Thursday, January 31, 2002

Gary Wilson - You Think You Really Know Me (Motel, 2002 - Reissue)

Gary Wilson
You Think You Really Know Me

2002 (Reissue) / 1977 (Original)
Rating: 7 inches taller out of 10
Gary Wilson is probably the weirdest and most influential person to come out of the seventies that you’ve never heard of.  This album, recorded in his parent’s basement and originally self-released by Gary in 1977, was probably the first new-wave album before such a genre even existed.  From what I’ve read, it is considered by some to be an inadvertent catalyst in the formation of K and Sub Pop records, as well as a major influence on Beck and other performers both past and present.  Gary Wilson’s sound was so ahead of the time that it is nearly impossible to describe it in the typical ‘sounds like such and such’ without using bands that have come after him.  Imagine a combination of cheesy synths, odd sound effects and samples, strange vocals singing even stranger lyrics, all done in a low-fi fashion that would make Robert Pollard of Guided by Voices proud.  Some of the song titles include ‘6.4 = Make Out,’ ‘Groovy Girls Make Love at the Beach,’ and ‘Chromium Bitch,’ which gives you a glimpse into the warped mind at work here.  This was the only album Wilson released, and has been one of those legendary finds among collectors over the years.  Now with this reissue, even regular folks can see what all of the hubbub about the guy is about.  Make sure to grab a copy before it goes out of print again.

Wilco - Yankee Hotel Foxtrot (Nonesuch, 2002)

Yankee Hotel Foxtrot


Rating: 9 bags of weed out of 10

There’s not a lot to be said about this Wilco release that hasn’t already been said before, but I just wanted to throw my hat in the ring in favor of how amazing this album is.  Much of the story of this record is all of the obstacles leading up to it’s release.  The gist of it is that the people at Reprise, which is owned by AOL-Time Warner, thought the album was so awful that they refused to release it, gave it back to the band for next to nothing, and dropped them from the label entirely.  The band then released the album on their website so that the fans could hear it, and then went on tour.  During this time, they shop the album out to different labels, and about a year later, the rights to release the album were picked up by Nonesuch.  Which, incidentally, is also owned by AOL-Time Warner; thus they paid for the album twice because the crackpots there running things don’t know what’s going on.  So what’s the moral of the story?  AOL-Time Warner are idiots?  Well, everyone already knew that.  It’s just nice to have some proof.

 But all of this is neither here nor there when it comes down to the music – and the music is a country-tinged pop masterpiece.  Notably, it was produced by Jim O’Rourke, who is well known for his experimental nature through his various solo albums as well as his work in Gastr del Sol.  His handiwork is all over the album – little bleeps and bloops here, some knob-twiddling and static there, done so in a way as to accentuate and not detract from the songs themselves.  And the songs are beautiful, moving, genius, masterpieces...take your pick, any of these modifiers will do.  For those of you familiar with the sound of Wilco, the songs will sound familiar, but the sound will envelop you from all sides.  Their experimental side has been likened to the more recent Radiohead works, while remaining genuinely Wilco at heart.  But like I said, you need not listen to me – the general consensus across the boards seem to agree, and I think you would be missing out if you let this one slip by without picking it up.