The Minus 5: Down With Wilco (Yep Rock)

This is a great album with a wonderfully intelligent sense of humor, as evidenced by the double entendre of the title, Down With Wilco.

The lineup of Scott McCaughey’s side project, the Minus 5, is any pop fan’s dream team. McCaughey, of the Young Fresh Fellows, enlists Peter Buck of R.E.M., former Posie Ken Stringfellow, and a number of other “special guests,” and backs it all up with the members of Wilco. This is a great album with a wonderfully intelligent sense of humor, as evidenced by the double entendre of the title, Down With Wilco.

On the whole, there is a decidedly late ’60s/early ’70s pop innocence to these songs (thanks in no small part to McCaughey’s vocals) that, upon closer inspection, reveals a darker side, making Down With Wilco the listening equivalent of watching a really great black comedy. For example, if Terry Jacks’ syrupy ’70s classic “Seasons in the Sun” had an evil twin, it would have to be “Days of Wine and Booze.” “The Town That Lost Its Groove Supply” is straight-up Donovan, “Life Left Him There” manages to recall the Association with guitars supplied by the Byrds, and the piano of “Daggers Drawn” gives us a hint of “Hey Jude.”

But while playing “spot the influences” is part of the fun of listening to Down With Wilco, it’s important to point out that this is not just some rehash of a musical era. What McCaughey and company do, rather, is give us fresh, inventive new songs while tapping into those seemingly intangible pop nuances and showing us what it is that made us love those old songs in the first place.

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply