Kicking Television


No one said it was easy to listen to Wilco these days. Once the darlings of the alt-country music scene, the band shed its twang on 2002’s Yankee Hotel Foxtrot for a sound more complicated than simple three-minute pop songs. Kicking Television, shows how songs like “Via Chicago” dissolve from simple melodies into a dissonant wall of distortion and off-beat drums, which can be trying to some listeners’ patience. The band culled the 23 songs from a four-night stand at the Vic Theatre in Chicago, meaning most of the stage banter is cut, but all the songs sound clear. The double-disc gives listeners the opportunity to hear what Wilco sounds like live—songs like “I Am Trying to Break Your Heart” and “Poor Places” are just as layered and full as they are on the band’s recent studio albums. However, the band’s live energy is the highlight—shown by guitarist Nels Cline’s unrestrained guitar solos, Glenn Kotche’s virtuosic drumming and singer Jeff Tweedy’s vocal delivery. The album is a treat for supporters of Wilco’s direction, but leaves the countrified fans wondering what happened to the banjo and lap steel.