Jeff Tweedy – Together At Last

So much of what makes an album merely good rather than great is how well it captures the presence of the musicians and the energy of the room. This record feels like it could have elevated to great with a more vibrant setting.

A big part of Wilco and Tweedy’s charm is the rapport he builds with a crowd, especially in the more intimate settings. This record feels like only part of the story is being told. Recorded with just Tweedy, his acoustic guitar, harmonica, and the occasional smattering of electric guitar, it doesn’t have the same immediacy of the solo Jeff Tweedy I have heard in the past.

This record feels like it has been recorded to be played in the background. It eschews all the details and nuance that make the songs work as acoustic numbers. I’ve heard many different bootlegs and “I am Trying to Break Your Heart”  with just his voice, an acoustic guitar and the energy of the audience is every bit as compelling as the studio version. He paints with fewer strokes on these recordings, which makes me think it’d be a good one to hear in a room rather than through headphones.

Together At Last is good, don’t get me wrong. Tweedy has that ability to be utterly captivating with just an acoustic guitar. The electric guitar at the end of “In A Future Age” is a  nice touch, as are the country-esque guitar bends on “I Am Trying to Break Your Heart.” But by removing the room full of people, the record lacks the electric atmosphere his sparse solo arrangements need to sparkle.

 

 

 

Arca – Arca

This record is everything you could want from a record. It’s dark and eerie, it’s light and airy, it has parts that make you want to curl up in a ball, and others that inspire you to shout from the rooftops. Metaphorically of course.

It has grand, sweeping landscapes, and tight intimate portraits, all within the same song. It combines large operatic elements, with plinky plonky bits, scattered and disordered drum sounds with four on the floor simplicity, and does it without ever sounding predictable.

The obvious touchstones for a record like are Aphex Twin, Flying Lotus and Four Tet. The combination of organic sounds with electronic create soundscapes that have depth and feel like they go on forever into the distance.