The iTunes collections are curious ones. Lacking the romance of a new album and the spontaneity you hear when an artist interacts with a live audience, for some people it’s just an excuse to listen to slightly less polished versions of album material. But then, when it’s a group like Wilco is anyone really complaining?
The better than a country mile, alt-rock group from the US recorded their recent release, an eight-track EP in their loft. This lends the recording a certain quality, not unlike the feel of the various groups who have released albums of material drawing together their BBC sessions from the sixties and seventies. It basically proves a treat for completists while offering the band another avenue in which to reach out to their fans.
The set features multiple cuts from their recent, The Whole Love record. These numbers tend to err on the warm and amiable side, just like a serving of a dozen little rays of sunshine. Take for instance, “Born Alone” which is buoyant pop with distorted guitars while “Black Moon” adds some moodiness to its soft, feathery bow. “I Might” meanwhile, features some notes that could’ve burst straight out of a Hammond organ from the swinging sixties before Jeff Tweedy and co. take us by the hand for a skip through a dense field.
The biggest surprises are the three cuts that were the most unexpected but then, these also proved to be the most fun. “Passenger Side” is from their debut LP and is an easy-on-the-ears, classic pop gem that one of the Finns could’ve spawned, something hardly surprising when you consider the clan have declared their love for this band on numerous occasions. Yankee Hotel Foxtrot’s “War On War” continues this vibe with some of the pleasantness last seen on a Fleetwood Mac song.
A guest spot from Nick Lowe, the group’s recent support act means their super musical powers combine for one excellent cover. The majority of us probably know “Cruel To Be Kind” from 10 Things I Hate About You, although the version in the film was by the band, Letters To Cleo. It was also a big hit for Lowe in the late seventies and thanks to his honey-like vocals and the saccharine pop music; it proves as sweet as Neil Diamond’s ode to Caroline.
Wilco may have recorded this excellent 8-track set whilst hidden away in a dark loft but sound-wise they are offering plenty of fun, Americana tunes that provide the same level of delight as if we were all basking in near-sleep in the warm sun of a clear, picturesque day. While this is hardly contributing anything all that new, it’s remains a feel-good offering and something that fans will find easy to embrace with their whole love.
Review Score: 8.5 out of 10
Originally published on 16 February 2012 at the following website: http://www.theaureview.com/albums/wilco-itunes-session-2012
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