Thursday, May 18, 2017

Chris Cornell – A Perspective

Article for www.nomoreworkhorse.com 
https://nomoreworkhorse.com/2017/05/18/chris-cornell-a-perspective/

Magnolia Electric Co - Josephine

Listening to Magnolia Electric Co's final album, released in 2009, Jason Molina and co have left behind the dark, slow burning rock of their earlier material and embraced country on the honky tone likes of O Grace! and The Rock of Ages.  Shenandoah and Whip-Poor-Will are equally informed by country music.  Thankfully the title track features some rougher, distorted guitar.  Further into the album The Handing Down is a welcome slab of spooked-out Crazy Horse-style rock, and it's followed by the desperate plea Map of the Falling Sky.  By the time the fine Little Sad Eyes with its eerie organ stabs and high lonesome rocker Knoxville Girl (not the Appalachian murder ballad) arrive you'll wonder why they front loaded the album with all those country songs.  

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Loose Fur - Loose Fur

Loose Fur was a project featuring Jeff Tweedy and Glenn Kotche from Wilco along with Jim O'Rourke.  They released their first album in 2003, which is fairly much as you might expect, six longish songs with Tweedy and O'Rourke sharing vocal duties.  Many of these songs, such as Laminated Cat are a little on the repetitive side, with a rolling guitar groove that repeats itself ad nauseam without really going anywhere.  The O'Rourke-sung songs such as Elegant Transaction are brighter and more enjoyable in a kind of meditative way.  So Long is odd, in a good way, in that it's reminiscent of the more stripped down and tripped out moments of Queens of the Stone Age.  You Were Young sounds like Wilco flecked with Sonic Youth and is therefore the song that suits Jeff Tweedy the most - it's the one track here that would work on a Wilco album.  The instrumental that follows, Liquidation Totale is pure Jim O'Rourke, while Chinese Apple sounds like what it is: Tweedy singing an acoustic Jim O'Rourke song.  There's lots of guitar noodling on show here so if you tolerate this, there's much to enjoy here.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Bonnie 'Prince' Billy - Ease Down The Road

Will Oldham released this album in 2001.  It's considerably more 'musical' than any of his previous albums.  It opens with May It Always Be which features a muted electric guitar, piano and Oldham actually singing 'properly', before a full on guitar solo midway through the song.  Many of the songs on the album are catchy and feature tunes you can really sing along to, such as the trio of Just To See My Holly Home, At The Break of Day and After I Made Love To You.  

A King At Night has a pleading, plaintive yet muted quality to it, a sweet tune distracting from lyrics concerned with "going down on me".  It's an incredibly melodic album in comparison with anything which came before.  The title track is an amiable shuffle, with the just the 'right' amount of each instrument, even the banjo doesn't overshadow anything.  Languid tunes such as Lion Lair and the country-tinged Mrs. William are the order of the day, making the album a great listen.  Grand Dark Feeling of Emptiness and Rich Wife Full of Happiness are bluesier, a bit like a very sparse Nick Cave.  In fact, not a bad place to start with Will Oldham.

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Glaciers - Living Right

More jangly goodness from Australia.  There seem to be several bands called Glaciers, making these guys a bit harder to identify and pigeonhole.  What is definitely the case is they released this album in 2016.  It opens with the quite glorious jangle of Winter, accompanied by soft vocals, which sets the tone for the album.  It's kind of driving around on a (dreaded) sunny day music, exemplified by Local Hero, Weekdays and everything else here.  Career Crisis is vaguely reminiscent of the brighter moments of Lloyd Cole and the Commotions, and how can you not love a band who calls a song Ddouble Vvision!  Later in the album Sensible and the title track feature some gorgeous, liquid guitar lines.

If there is a criticism, it's that there is practically no variation across the album, but on the other hand, each of the 11 tracks here are seriously strong.

Friday, May 12, 2017

Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever - Talk Tight

Australian band Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever released a debut EP in 2016.  It opens with the jangly thrills of Wither With You, which comes across like the Go-Betweens with an injection of New York cool.  They sound like they are having a cracking time on the joyful Wide Eyes and Heard You're Moving which zip along nicely.

After the manic pop thrills of the previous four songs, Tender Is The Neck takes the intensity way down with a gorgeous, laid-back number, which adds some of the vulnerability of The Smiths to their jangle fixation.  The EP ends with a flourish on the slightly bored yet cool sounding Career.  With seven tracks of summery guitar goodness here, it's hard to go wrong.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Clearance - Catalogue Nos.

Chicago band Clearance released this collection of their early singles in 2014.  Walking Papers is an almost perfect indie rock song, with driving swaggering guitars and nonchalant singing from Mike Bellis.  Introduced chronologically, You're Not The Target oozes self-assurance and a relaxed charm.  Selling the Plot and She's Gonna Show You are brighter, with a bit more of a 'pop' feel.  One or two of the songs have a seemingly unconnected jam thrown on the end of them, which gives the tracks something of an enchanted charm....

Ok, I attempted to get through this review without mentioning the band they are most often compared to, Pavement, but to no avail.  The breezy charm of Close Encounters strongly evokes this band, while the navel-gazing Face the Frontier has a wonderful, lazy charm that emulates classic mid-period Pavement such as Father to a Sister of Thought brilliantly.  In fact, when this band slow it down on this and the sub-two minute Safer Passage they really excel, sounding effortless and just a little ragged.

They don't ignore more rocking moments, Drive Out! and Carte Blanche are a bit more forceful than anything else here, in a Velvet Underground/Strokes kind of way.  

It really is top drawer stuff.  An album of old-fashioned guitar thrills.  What's not to like?

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Kings of Convenience - Quiet Is The New Loud

Responsible for some kind of quiet music movement based on their album title, this was the Norwegian duo's debut album, released in 2001.    Consisting mainly of acoustic guitar and harmony-led songs, it's a highly melodic collection of songs.  Production is crisp and clear, which allows these songs to stand out and sound good in either winter or summer.  It opens slowly with Winning The Battle, Losing the War which has a nice electric guitar in the coda.  While it sounds very pretty a whole album of songs at this pace would seriously drag, so it's refreshing that Toxic Girl picks up the pace.  To a gentle, quiet trot rather than a sprint or anything.  An early highlight is I Don't Know What I Can Save You From, this and the following track Failure feature lovely, rolling acoustic guitar patterns.   Sometimes the album gets quite 'loungey' as on the soft shuffle Leaning Against The Wall and The Passenger.  Later on the album, Summer on the Westhill is almost impossibly pretty.

But really, if you like sumptuous harmonies and acoustic music, any of these tracks will work for you.  The album is very consistent across all 12 tracks, and a fine listen.

Thursday, April 27, 2017

BNQT - Volume 1

So it seems the soft-rock mid-70s are well and truly back, with bands like Midlake, Fleet Foxes etc, but not only that we have a supergroup in the shape of BNQT.  It's really a project led by Midlake's Eric Pulido, Jason Lytle from Grandaddy, Ben Bridwell from Band of Horses and, a little incongruously, Alex Kapranos of Franz Ferdinand and Fran Healy of Travis.  With each singer being given 2 songs each this could have come across an incoherent mess but, anchored by Midlake as the backing band it gels together well.  Pulido opens up with the propulsive, catchy Restart.  Bridwell's relaxed, borderline cheesy Unlikely Force follows.  It's like something ripped straight out of Crosby Stills and Nash's 70s songbook and it works really well, Bridwell singing "you and me make such an unlikely force" with gorgeous harmonies from the other singers.  The track is so evocative you'll feel your trousers flaring and your hair growing longer.  100 Million Miles has the cosmic essence of Lytle's band Grandaddy with strings to give it added grace.  Healy's Mind of A Man is takes a heavy spoonful of Fleetwood Mac's Rumours with a tempo and atmosphere that conjures up that band's Dreams.  Kapranos sounds a bit out of place on the oddly titled Hey Banana, neither gelling totally with the band nor sounding particularly distinct.  That's not to say the track doesn't work, it just comes up short in comparison to what precedes it.  The poppy and upbeat Real Love is more of a band effort, featuring what sounds like all singers.  In fact the second half of the album is less impressive than the first, Lytle's plodding Failing at Feeling is practically MOR, while the Stones-lite of Healy's L.A. On My Mind, Bridwell's foul-mouthed yet chirpy Tara and Kapranos' slow-burning keyboard don't really ignite.

Definitely recommended for fans of Midlake, or any of the bands referenced above.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Stephen Malkmus & The Jicks - Real Emotional Trash

2008's Real Emotional Trash is the album where Stephen Malkmus finally casts off the shackles of his former band Pavement.  It opens in somewhat lumbering fashion, with the heavy riffs of Dragonfly Pie and the Doors-isms of Hopscotch Willie.  Very much a guitarist album, the ten minute title track is, despite its long-windedness, something of a highlight, taking its time to unfurl some seriously impressive guitar work by Malkmus.  Muscular, riffy rock is the order of the day on tracks like Out of Reaches and Baltimore, which are a long way from the indie sound Pavement were known for.  In other words if intricate fretwork is not your bag, don't come anywhere near this album.  Many of these songs are pretty unfocused.  The terribly titled Elmo Delmo is certainly that, but it works well, albeit in a late 60s/early 70s rock way, ie 'pass the joint' and all that.  Following this, We Can't Help You is practically The Band.  It comes as something of a relief after so much bluster when final track Wicked Wanda starts in relatively quiet fashion before the mighty riffs kick in, in fairness, to pretty excellent effect.  The real question is: is this Malkmus pretending to do a 70s rock album, or is this the real deal?

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Magnolia Electric Co - Sojourner

Magnolia Electric Co's 2006 album Fading Trails proved to be just a taster for 2007's Sojourner box set, a treasure trove containing FOUR albums.  The first, Nashville Moon has Jason Molina and co gone full-on country rock with rockers Lonesome Valley, Montgomery and Don't Fade On Me, each of which appeared on Fading Trails.  Elsewhere?  We get a ragged, rocking take on Hammer Down, followed closely by No Moon On The Water, again rocking pretty hard leading nicely into the country soul Stones-y title track.  There are plenty of uptempo tracks preventing the pace from becoming too plodding, such as the bluesy strut of What Comes After The Blues or the country swing of Don't This Look Like The Dark.  North Star is a honky tonk ballad which gathers momentum throughout the song, swelling to a fine brew of sound.  This music truly is equal parts messy rock and honky-tonk country.

However it has nothing on the second disc, Black Ram.  For me this is everything that Neil Young's Tonight's the Night was made out to be, a dark, mellow yet angry night time rock album.  In The Human World has a simple, descending melody before the addition of strings sweeps the track along providing a perfect introduction.  Austere, grim guitars open the title track which just gets more beat down and heavier as the track progresses.  What's Broken Becomes Better and Will-O-The-Wisp are fine, doleful laments with hard electric guitars.  Gentle banjo introduces Kanawha which builds to a guitar solo that cold only be described as 'stonking'.  Which in the context of this, is a good thing.  The wounded Neil Young-isms are present and correct on the towering A Little At A Time.  Many songs, such as Blackbird and And The Moon Hits The Water would be quite ordinary but for the way the guitars are recorded, with such clarity and bite, they really lift each track to great heights.  It's a definite highpoint in the extensive catalogue of Jason Molina.

The third disc, Sun Session is the shortest at only four songs.  No let up in quality here - Talk to Me Devil Again takes a prime Neil Young sounding delicate riff and combines it with a little organ for Molina to sing his lament.  The other 3 tracks are equally strong, including a rootsy rendition of Hold On, Magnolia.

The final disc, Shohola, is something else entirely.  The bleakest, most-stripped down set here, it features Jason Molina alone with a guitar, as he wails softly through laments like Steady Now and Take One Thing Along.  Night Country and The Spell are grim, resigned and life-affirming, sharing the tone of Gillian Welch's most downbeat material.  Shiloh Temple is classic country folk of the kind that Townes Van Zandt used to play.  The Lamb's Song features such soft guitar playing you actually lean in to listen harder.  This collection is even more downbeat than Molina usually is, one for those long dark nights of the soul.

Possibly Jason Molina's defining project, and definitely one his most ambitious.  It contains some of his best work and is essential for anyone interested in his music.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Wilco - A Ghost Is Born

Wilco's fifth album came out in 2004, and was instantly pegged as their 'experimental' album.  This it definitely is.  But it's also enjoyable to listen to, more so than its predecessor Yankee Hotel Foxtrot.  It opens quietly with At Least That's What You Said, initially with just piano and Jeff Tweedy's voice, before he unleashes Neil Young-style guitar licks after a couple of minutes.  And what towering guitar licks they are, on an album where Tweedy's guitar playing really comes to the fore.  It's followed by a change of tack with the understated piano soft-rock of Hell Is Chrome, before shifting again with ten minute epic Spiders.  With a pulsing beat and repetitive keyboard motif, it sounds a long way from what you'd expect from Wilco.  The tension builds for a few minutes before a joyous, riffing guitar breakdown with a hint of Sonic Youth.  They stretch this out over ten minutes, yet it doesn't ever feel boring, though it eventually ends quite abruptly.  

Muzzle of Bees is a gentle, rootsy strum for the most part with occasional fretwork interludes.  Tweedy's Beatles fixation comes to the fore on piano-dominated tracks like Hummingbird and Theologians.  In the main, fine pop/rock songs like Handshake Drugs and Company In My Back abound on this album.  

The most polarising track for most people will be the 15 minute Less Than You Think.  For the first three minutes it's a soft piano ballad before giving way to 12 minutes of maddening machine drone.  It's total self-indulgence and depending on your mood that's either good or bad.  But rather than finishing with this, we get one final song, the enjoyable Faces-style throwaway The Late Greats.

But it's an album that, once you get into it, is most enjoyable.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Cian Nugent - Night Fiction

Night Fiction is the third album from Cian Nugent.  Released in 2016, it's the first to feature his languid vocals over his... languid guitar playing.  Actually his guitar playing is very accomplished, right from the opener Lost Your Way.  We're very much in Steve Gunn/Ryley Walker territory here.  Lengthy songs like Night Run and Shadows very much act as a relaxed springboard for Nugent to unleash his excellent guitar playing.  Nugent is by no means a great singer, but it's more than compensated by his seemingly effortless sounding but actually complex guitar playing.

A short, pastoral, fingerpicking instrumental Lucy divides the album neatly in two, but the lazy, hazy vibe very much remains the same on Things Don't Change That Fast and Nightlife.  It's left to eleven minute closing track Year of the Snake to provide a sense of ebb and flow, the track building from slow beginnings to an almost LA Woman style rave-up.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Wilco - Yankee Hotel Foxtrot

Wilco's fourth album is an odd oul beast.  In 2001 Reprise Records refused to release it, and it eventually came out in 2002.  It's seen by some as their Kid A.  While it's not that, it does mark the point where Wilco moved away from their alt-country roots and established their own sound.  Opener I Am Trying To Break Your Heart won't jar with anyone familiar with Misunderstood, the opener on Being There - it's a slowbuilding track, melodic for the most part but containing noisier passages.  In truth the album is a kind of enjoyable mess, which, perhaps due to its background, received far more praise than merited from critics.  It has many softly strummed, accessible songs such as Kamera, the repetitive War on War and the Cure-referencing Pot Kettle Black.  Any of these would not have been out of place on Summerteeth, nor would Heavy Metal Drummer, the most uptempo and 'knowing' lyrics here ("shiny, shiny pants and bleached blonde hair, double kick drum by the river").  I'm The Man Who Loves You is a bit like the Beatles played by Crazy Horse while the jaunty folk of Jesus Etc is downright odd.

Far more interesting are the deathly slow crawls.  Radio Cure is the one song here you could imagine Thom Yorke singing.  Instrumentation is minimal, percussion barely there at all, yet this song gets under the skin.  Ashes of American Flags is pure Beatles' White Album.  And not Obla-di Obla-da either, especially the final minute or two of noise.  Better still, the final twelve and a half minutes of the album are occupied by two slow crawls.  The first of these, Poor Places, is a fairly definitive slow march towards nowhere in particular.  Reservations on the other hand is more of a funereal drift into nothingness.  Or if you prefer, a plaintive love song ("I've got reservations about so many things but not about you").  And it is that which sums up the album, it can be taken in more than one way.

Monday, April 10, 2017

Will Oldham - Joya

Joya was released in 1997 under the Will Oldham name.  From the opening track O Let It Be, the album features a much fuller sound than any of the Palace material, with prominent electric guitar from David Pajo and more of a band feel.  The creeping, lurching Antagonism is muted and interesting but doesn't really go anywhere.  And so it goes for the album.  New Gypsy has a bluesy backwoods tone to it but Under What Was Oppression and Open Your Heart are more like what you'd expect from him but leave little impression.

Be Still and Know God is almost strident, with a straightforward guitar lick propelling the song along.  But for the most part this music is solipsistic and unremarkable.

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Palace Music - Lost Blues and Other Songs

This is a compilation of singles and rare tracks from the various incarnations of Will Oldham as Palace/Palace Brothers/Palace Music etc.  As many collections like this can be, it's a bit all over the shop.  It opens with the dead slow but effective folk march of Ohio River Boat Song.  Many tracks here are, let's face it, hard going: the rough-as-fuck version of Riding, the completely out of tune singing on Stable Will to name but two.

But mostly downbeat folk is the order of the day on tracks like Valentine's Day, Trudy Dies and Come In.  Some of the stronger material is towards the end: O How I Enjoy The Light is a fairly typical Oldham lament with a neat line in warped guitar.  The two essential tracks are the relaxed, warm West Palm Beach which features some gorgeous electric guitar lines, and then the Stones-y lazy blues Gulf Shores, a bit like an updated No Expectations.  This latter track actually features soothing vocals from Will Oldham and a nice bit of piano.  But overall, not a collection for the fairweather fan.

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Belle and Sebastian - Fold Your Hands Child, You Walk Like A Peasant

Belle and Sebastian released their fourth album in 2000.  It opens with I Fought In A War, which builds gradually, adding guitar, strings and brass to Stuart Murdoch's voice, developing into something akin to Love's Alone Again Or.  There are plenty of classy pop tunes here such as The Model, The Wrong Girl, the Murdoch/Isobel Campbell duet Women's Realm and the dippy Nice Day for a Sulk.

The Stuart David / Isobel Campbell duet Beyond the Sunrise and Chalet Lines plod along without really going anywhere.  Better are Sarah Martin's Waiting for the Moon to Rise which has a decent swing to it, and the slow-burning, string-laden Don't Leave the Light On, Baby.  Twee-ness is never too far away, particularly on Isobel Campbell's Family Tree but they maintain a certain charm throughout.  So overall, if you've already bought into this band, there's a good chance you might enjoy this album.

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Palace Music - Arise Therefore

After the leap forward of Viva Last Blues this is something of a regressive step.  It's a sparse collection of songs with the prominent addition of a drum machine (!).  Most of the songs simply have a slight rumbling bass, Will Oldham's whiny voice, drum machine and little else.  Some of the highlights are the very muted A Sucker's Evening, and the title track, which features a welcome drop of guitar.  No Gold Digger is probably the closest thing to any kind of 'proper' song with a kind of full sound on the album.  On other tracks like Kid of Harith and Disorder, Oldham's fast-and-loose-with-any-form-of melody vocals are inclined to grate.  For the uninitiated, this is really no place to start!

Friday, March 10, 2017

Bruce Springsteen - Tunnel of Love

Bruce Springsteen's eighth album, released in 1987, was a bit of a departure from what had gone before, with keyboard as the lead instrument and guitar and everything else relegated to a supporting role.  If you can get beyond John Landau's eighties production, it's an understated gem.

After the kind of odd vocal and harmonica opener Ain't Got You, we settle into the album proper with the defiant Tougher Than The Rest.  The upbeat melody is dragged back by the droning keyboard so it's hard to imagine the hardcore Springsteen punching the air to this, or much else on here.  If anything it would be the rabble rousing Spare Parts, but this is a bit out of place here, it's strident in a way the rest of the album isn't.  

A complete change of tack arrives with the stripped bare Cautious Man, a simple acoustic song in the mould of Nebraska.  But moody keyboards are the order of the day here.  Walk Like A Man, Two Faces and especially One Step Up are made for contemplative staring out the window.  The subject matter of the lyrics is disarming, Springsteen singing about "trying to walk like a man".  The last of these is particularly downbeat as he sings about "when I look at myself I don't see the man I wanted to be".

The title track is a curious beast.  Probably the best known song here, it has a dollop of eighties studio effects in it, yet somehow manages to reach beyond this to become a redemptive anthem, singing about how it's "easy for two people to lose each other in this tunnel of love", and then back it up with a rare (on this album) guitar solo.  The album ends with more moodiness in the shape of Valentine's Day where the track plods along in a blissful gloom before drifting into oblivion.  Dismiss this album at your peril, it's a Bruce Springsteen album for people who find Bruce Springsteen a bit much.

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Palace Music - Viva Last Blues

Viva Last Blues represents a considerable leap forward for Palace Music.  Released in 1995, it has far more a full band sound than anything previous.  The band have a kind of loping, slightly warped country sound, exemplified by the opening two tracks More Brother Rides and Viva Ultra.  Some tracks have a darker, moody feel to them such as Brute Choir and the vengeful Tonight's Decision ("when he comes for me I will fuck him o, I will waste him in my own way"), and these songs are pretty effective.  The Mountain Low attracts attention for his lyrics about "if I could fuck a mountain..." etc but it's the kind of easy melody that Will Oldham would make his name with as Bonnie Prince Billy.  Later, New Partner has a lazy, relaxed easy charm, Oldham drawling "you were always on my mind".

Further into the album Work Hard / Play Hard rocks errr 'hard' with a full rocking sound and Oldham's squawked vocals. and the strutting, squalling guitars of Cat's Blues help to mix the sound up a bit, and stop the album from sounding too samey.  The rustic, bluesy folk of We All, Us Three, Will Ride and Old Jerusalem rounds off the album.   

Friday, February 24, 2017

The Cure - Join the Dots: B-Sides & Rarities

FOUR CDs of b-sides from The Cure, great!  The set is broken up chronologically, and not surprisingly the first disc 1978-1987 is by far the most essential.  Any self-respecting Cure fan (Cure-head?) should already have creepy kitchen sink drama 10:15 Saturday Night already and the rest is a bit hit and miss.  The stronger tracks are earlier on the disc, with I'm Cold sounding like the darker moments of their debut album, Three Imaginary Boys, while Another Journey by Train is like early single Jumping Someone Else's Train ran through a 17 Seconds blender, ie, pretty damn good.  Descent is like cast-off riffs from their Faith album and Splintered in Her Head could soundtrack a descent into hell.  After this the mood changes abruptly with the quirky likes of The Dream and The Upstairs Room, though the second version of Lament is a brooding slab of glorious misery.  What else?  Further into the first disc sees Robert Smith get looser and looser with his vocals, not always to great effect (the piercing wails on New Day).  The pacy guitar strums of The Exploding Boy are quite fetching though.

After this things get a bit wobbly.  On the second disc, A Chain of Flowers has some gorgeous, if very Goth-y, ringing guitars.  They turn their hand to poppy moments such as 2 Late and To The Sky is the Cure's very own John Hughes soundtracking moment, it wouldn't have been out of place in a mid 80s coming-of-age movie.  Other highlights include the Eastern flavoured Fear of Ghosts and two different covers of The Doors' Hello I Love You. Elsewhere, we could do without remixes of Icing Sugar, Hey You and Just Like Heaven, and the dance-infused Harold and Joe comes across as trying a bit too hard.

The third CD is by and large, accessible intelligent pop like This Twilight Garden and Halo, and darker brooding numbers like Play and the gentle grower that is The Big Hand.  We also get a couple of novelty covers, Jimi Hendrix's Purple Haze and Bowie's Young Americans, along with Burn, taken from the soundtrack to The Crow.  The fourth CD isn't great really, some dreadful remixes (A Forest) and dodgy covers (World In My Eyes).  But overall, a decent collection.

Monday, February 13, 2017

Wilco - A.M.

Wilco's debut album, released in 1995 is a fairly 'straight' country rock album.  It opens with I Must Be High, a melodic, upbeat country rocker.  Casino Queen is a boozy, Stonesy rocker, straight out of Exile on Main Street, while Box Full of Letters is a similarly swaggering rock song.

Shouldn't Be Ashamed slows the pace down a bit and it suits them better.  The song still rocks, just a bit more gently, and it's a highlight.  As are Pick Up The Change and I Thought I Held You, a pair of breezy, relaxed tunes with Jeff Tweedy's voice upfront and central.  Less successful is the overly country, banjo-drenched That's Not The Issue, and John Stirratt-sung country ballad It's Just That Simple feels a bit out of place.

The album recovers well with strumalong Should've Been In Love, and the remaining songs drift pleasantly along, including the Dylan/Neil Young style Passenger Side and the blissed-out country drift of Dash 7 and Blue Eyed Soul.