Sunday, May 20, 2007

Wilco -- Sky Blue Sky.

You are cowboy?Riding north along Lakeshore Dr. on the 146 express bus, wearing a fake cowboy shirt and listening to Sky Blue Sky, it’s easy to think of Jeff Tweedy’s legacy here in Chicago.

Over the course six albums, nine for you sticklers, Wilco has served as an unofficial urban cultural education program for the suburban kids that crowd into the city in regular batches. What’s alt-country except rural music for city folks and those who aspire to be? How many metropolitan relocations, let alone ill-advised beards and dulcimer purchases, did this band inspire?

Wilco for Yuppies?Yankee Foxtrot Hotel didn’t actually come with brochures from the Cook County Chambers of Commerce, but god, with how sexy and daunting the Marina Towers look on the cover, who could settle for a condo outside St. Louis, Des Moines, St. Paul or the D? You could be living in a mutherfucking moon colony, making crazy future moon rock and using assassin as a verb.

Kids are still crowding into the Northside, but it’s hard to imagine Sky Blue Sky inspiring their pilgrimages. At best this record might sell a couple sailboats.

I’ll try to lay off the gentrification semiotics in a sec, but I will point out Lincoln Park, Lakeview, Bucktown and Uptown are full of more strollers than ever. Fewer people are moving (back) out to the burbs to start their families. They’re renovating duplexes into single-family homes. They’re tending lawns. They’re getting respectable and becoming their parents. Your scary, exciting city goes soft and your crazy moon rock turns to mellow mush.

It’s not worth ragging on Tweedy’s domestication or sobriety. Good for him right? But if your kid is already rocking harder than you (go Blisters), what’s left except to pick through Steely Are you ready to rock responsibly?Dan and Christopher Cross records and 12 step your way through 12 songs about acceptance and patience.

The tracks are nice enough, uniformly beautiful and peaceful, but are you ready to sit still through them all? Sandwich something focused and fiery between "Either Way" and "I Hate It Here," and they’d be great moments. Personally I don’t need a record that won’t wake the baby. I don’t want to be reminded to breathe and wash the dishes.

P-Fork has been calling Wilco "dad rock" for awhile, but Sky is as much about becoming our dads as for them. Yeah, yeah we should be so lucky. Still Father’s Day is right around the corner: Are you buying this for somebody or is somebody buying it for you?

"Impossible Germany, Unlikely Japan," Jeff sings. Enemies become friends I think he means. I’m just not tucking my shirt in yet.

Rating: 2/5

-Dmitri jr.

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