Ode to Joy by Wilco, album review by Northern Transmissions


Ode to Joy


Does anyone really need any new music? Most people are happy to live out their teenage years well into their retirement, while others are so fanatical about finding that next great band that they will spend all their waking hours devouring the internet for new sounds. Now, take the point of view of a veteran band. “Is the world clamouring for new music from us?” In the case of Wilco and their front man Jeff Tweedy, that was a question he directly asked himself. “Nobody needs more Wilco music,” Tweedy says. “But at the same time, if you use that as motivation, that’s a lot of energy to push forward and try to make something that is worth sharing, to challenge yourself to make something that has meaning to you. As an artist, I think that’s your fucking job.” The band is readying the release of their 11th (!!!) studio album Ode To Joy, and with a title as audacious as that it better be worth it. Rest assured, even at this stage in their career, Wilco isn’t content with just pumping out another record just for another record’s sake and Ode To Joy is definitely proof of that.

The album kicks off with the backward guitar squiggles of “Bright Leaves”. With only those and steady, pounding drumbeat it sets the stage for an increasingly interesting listen. Wilco has never been one for instant gratification, although you can argue the tenor of Tweedy’s voice always does seem to hit that sweet spot in you brain, and on Ode To Joy that remains. “Before Us” has a wonderfully dense arrangement of thudding toms and arpeggiated guitar riffs. The refrain of “Alone with the people who have come before” is so hypnotic that you will find yourself casually swaying along to the rhythm no matter where you are listening. These are all big, warm songs. Something you would want to hang your hat on after a long day. “Everyone Hides” is a trucking number with a very satisfying refrain, while, “White Wooden Cross” features some subtle saxophone that adds a ton to the proceedings. “We Were Lucky” is another subtle one, one that sneaks up on you. While the rhythm is so repetitive and hypnotic, the magic lives in Tweedy’s vocal melodies which always seem to swerve in a way that is surprising and will dig deep into your ears. “Love Is Everywhere (Beware)” starts off as a more straightforward folk song but it just gets more and more increasingly beautiful as it carries on. This is the case with most of Ode To Joy, you think you have it all figured out but then it takes a step in a different direction and it is always a wonderfully surprising direction.

Wilco has been doing this long enough that they aren’t going to release something trivial and with Ode To Joy they’ve crafted something that lives up to its name. These are big, warm beautiful songs, full of sincerity but always with a trick up their sleeves. To answer the question, “Does anyone really need any new music?” Well, if music is as good as the stuff that Wilco keeps churning out then that answer is a resounding, “Yes”.

review by Adam Fink

Live Dates

Tue. Oct. 8 – Toronto, ON @ Budweiser Stage (w/ special guest Lord Huron)
Thu. Oct. 10 – Boston, MA @ Boch Center Wang Theatre
Fri. Oct. 11 – Boston, MA @ Boch Center Wang Theatre
Sat. Oct. 12 – New York, NY @ Radio City Music Hall
Sun. Oct. 13 – Brooklyn, NY @ Brooklyn Steel
Tue. Oct. 15 – Washington, DC @ The Anthem
Wed. Oct. 16 – Cary, NC @ Koka Booth Amphitheatre
Fri. Oct. 18 – Atlanta, GA @ Cadence Bank Amphitheatre at Chastain Park
Sat. Oct. 19 – Birmingham, AL @ Alabama Theatre
Sun. Oct. 20 – Nashville, TN @ Grand Ole Opry House
Tue. Oct. 22 – Tulsa, OK @ Cain’s Ballroom – SOLD OUT
Wed. Oct. 23 – Irving, TX @ The Pavilion at the Toyota Music Factory
Fri. Oct. 25 – Houston, TX @ Revention Music Center
Sat. Oct. 26 – Austin, TX @ ACL Live at the Moody Theater – SOLD OUT
Sun. Oct. 27 – Austin, TX @ ACL Live at the Moody Theater
Mon. Nov. 4 – Grand Rapids @ 20 Monroe Live
Tue. Nov. 5 – Ann Arbor, MI @ Hill Auditorium
Wed. Nov. 6 – Pittsburgh, PA @ Heinz Hall
Fri. Nov. 8 – Charlottesville, VA @ Sprint Pavilion
Sat. Nov. 9 – Cincinnati, OH @ Taft Theatre
Sun. Nov. 10 – Columbus, OH @ Palace Theatre
Tue. Nov. 12 – Indianapolis, IN @ The Murat Theatre
Wed. Nov. 13 – Louisville, KY @ The Louisville Palace
Thu. Nov. 14 – St. Louis, MO @ Fabulous Fox Theatre
Fri. Nov. 15 – Cedar Rapids, IA @ Paramount Theatre
Sun. Nov. 17 – Kansas City, MO @ Arvest Bank Theatre at The Midland
Tue. Nov. 19 – Denver, CO @ Mission Ballroom
Wed. Nov. 20 – Omaha, NE @ Orpheum Theatre
Sat. Jan. 18 – Tue. Jan. 21 – Riviera Maya, MX @ Hard Rock Hotel

&= w/ Spiral Stairs
*= w/ Ohmme


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