The Minus 5
Down With Wilco (Yep Roc)
By: Alex Steininger
The pop collective fronted by the Young Fresh Fellows' Scott McCaughey, Seattle's The Minus 5 also includes R.E.M.'s Peter Buck and The Posies' Ken Stringfellow. McCaughey met up with friends Jeff Tweedy, Glenn Kotche, John Stirratt, and Leroy Bach - collectively known as Wilco - and recorded a record, the aptly titled Down With Wilco.
Recorded in non-Minus 5 fashion, whereas McCaughey usually records a bunch of stuff and sends the material around for others to add their parts, Down With Wilco was recorded with the entire band (McCaughey and Wilco), and later brought to Buck and Stringfellow to add their parts.
The result is an album produced by McCaughey and Tweedy, resembling Wilco's Yankee Hotel Foxtrot fused with standard Minus 5 pop mastery.
Tweedy's insistence that McCaughey play more piano shines through on cuts like the album's opener "Days of Wine and Booze", a drowsy, seductive pop nugget that reels you in for the album to come, setting the tone for an infectious, adventurous album.
"That's Not The Way It's Done" is lush, the piano helping to sport the dazzling melody, while Wilco's harmonious backing vocals help complete this mid-tempo masterpiece.
But that isn't all McCaughey has up his sleeve. "The Town That Lost It's Groove Supply" proves the combo hasn't forgotten how to rock, delivering a bouncy, upbeat rhythm for you to shake your hips too while horns, backing vocals, and McCaughey's voice make this song irresistible.
"The Family Gardner" finds Tweedy singing lead, the acoustic guitar and keyboards creating the atmosphere while the rhythm section keeps things simple and light.
"Dear Employer" is more proof of McCaughey's abilities to write effortlessly pure, plentiful pop music that touches your soul and still makes you want to sing along and tap your feet for a good time.
Down With Wilco is a true gem, one of 2003's top ten albums, and a treasure to the pop world. It boasts great lyrics, undeniably brilliant melodies, and an all-star cast of players that help enrich and further the already capable songs. I'll give it an A+.