The Minus 5
Down With Wilco
This ad hoc “super group” gets even more super with their latest, much-delayed release which finds regular Minus 5-ers Scott McCaughey (Young Fresh Fellows), Peter Buck (REM) and Ken Stringfellow (Posies) hooking up with the boys from Wilco. For those looking to place this one on the Wilco continuum, it’s sort of a missing link between the overtly poppy sounds of Summerteeth and the more sonically experimental Yankee Hotel Foxtrot and the recent Loose Fur side project. For those already familiar with McCaughey’s oeuvre, there are plenty of Brian Wilson meets Jeff Lynne meets Robert Pollard musical moments, as well as lots of McCaughey’s trademark humor. On “Dear Employer (The Reason I Quit),” he offers these lines: “Dear employer, your escalators / Are very dangerous on the way down / They rip the skin and they pull you in / Spit out the boney bits and coffee grounds.” Just as you think you’re about to get your brain around a McCaughey lyric, things turn absurd and slip away into the ether. Wilco’s Jeff Tweedy proves a simpatico partner in crime here, turning in a lead vocal on “The Family Gardener” and adding invaluable musical backing throughout. On one of the album’s best tracks, “Where Will You Go,” McCaughey sounds oddly like Bernard Sumner of New Order as marimba and e-bow guitar color the proceedings before the song degenerates into experimental scratching. The Minus 5 and friends pull out all the stops on “Retrieval of You,” with pedal steel, tambourine, sleigh-bells and a chorus of “ba-ba-ba’s.” And, the REM-like “I’m Not Bitter” is highlighted by Stringfellow’s soaring vocal on the chorus. A good show from all involved.