Music Monday: Ode to Joy

This month, we started a blog series called, “Music Monday,” here on Arner Adventures. Since music creates a soundtrack for our day-to-day living, it only makes sense.

The week, I am discussing the most recent Wilco release, entitled, “Ode to Joy” is a solid album, and arguably, their best since 2006’s “Sky Blue Sky.” The music is atmospheric at its best, and the songs flow smoothly. Individually, these songs might not work in the manner they do on the record, but together one song supports the other and they combine beautifully.

The atmospheric quality of the record is readily apparent from the get-go. Simple percussion, and half whispered lyrics dominate in true indy-rock fashion. There is a dreamy, murky quality throughout that isn’t always my favorite Wilco style, but this time it really seems to work. The lyrics have an abstract quality that songwriter Jeff Tweedy always makes interesting. Just when you think Tweedy’s heavy thoughts and melancholia are going to break you, he lets you off the hook with “Everyone Hides”- the catchy first single with a playful, groovy baseline at its foundation.

“White Wooden Cross” is both haunting, and beautiful- a great centerpiece for the record. Tweedy speaks of the white wooden crosses we sometimes see at the side of the road:

“What would I do if the white wooden cross meant I lost you?”

Yes, even when the music sounds a little lighter, the lyrics retain their somber mood. While making “Ode to Joy,” the band’s approach centered around the percussion getting very unique sounds in a simplistic way, that sets and enhances the mood, along with some quirky guitar work. Wilco has always loved to make experimental noises and see where it takes them.

The record wraps up with some pleasant musings, mostly backed by softer and more acoustic-oriented music. Wilco has sometimes been labeled, “Dad Rock” in the past, and with good reason. The infectious pop of “Love is Everywhere” follows some old formulas, but comes at a good time, lifting our moods and leading us into the lovely, “Hold Me Anyway.” The song’s pleasant vibe and melody asks the question,

“Are we all in love just because? No! I think its poetry and magic. Something too big to have a name.”

Through all the twists, turns, and probing questions posed in these songs, this lyric brings Wilco’s “Ode to Joy” to a pleasing and hopeful conclusion.

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