My tax dollars at work / photo by David Greenwald
Wilco – “What Light”: mp3
Wilco’s new album, Sky Blue Sky, is a tough nut to crack. On first listen, it’s easy, disappointing – abandoning the experimentation and studio mad scientist stuff that characterized the band’s last two records. But then you listen again, and you realize first, how democratic it sounds, how every member of the band contributes like never before. Then the songs start taking wing, blossoming into the most mature writings of frontman Jeff Tweedy’s career. It’s not perfect, but it is incredible. This is one of the least tricky songs, a Woodie Guthrie homage that also pokes fun at bands worried about file-sharing. Credit to the band to backing up its art with its actions by making this track an official release.
Victor Bermon – “Farewell Lunch for Laura”: mp3
If Starbucks played ambient music, this’d be it. If Dick Vitale was here, he’d say, “IT’S AWESOME, BABY!”
Elliott Smith – “I’m Only Sleeping” (live Beatles cover): mp3
I’ve spent the last week quietly compiling a complete, definitive collection of Elliott Smith’s live covers. He did dozens of songs over the years, ranging from the Kinks and Beatles to lesser-known tracks by Big Star and Built To Spill, and since most of his shows were recorded, we’ve got good versions of them. Over the next week, I’ll be posting all 47 of Smith’s live covers right here on this blog, so check out this preview and I’ll see you back here tomorrow for the rest of his Beatles covers. On Tuesday, we’ll do the Kinks, and so on.
Elsewhere: Peep Cokemachineglow’s continuing coverage of SXSW.
The Rob Gordon Shuffle is a weekly Sunday rundown of fascinating songs without particular regard to genre or timeliness. It is absolutely not a top five. To read further installments (or check out more new and upcoming albums), click below.