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The Daily Cardinal Est. 1892
Thursday, April 18, 2024

Record Routine: father and son duo till new ground on debut album

Twenty years after the debut of American rock band Wilco, Jeff Tweedy has veered off from the band’s consistent schedule of new releases to instead showcase new project “Tweedy,” a family affair featuring his 18-year-old son Spencer Tweedy on percussion, alongside additional members Scott McCaughey on keyboards and backing vocalists Jess Wolfe and Holly Laessig from Lucius. The album, Sukierae, is a lengthy 20 songs in 71 minutes, and what it lacks in excitement and spontaneity, it makes up in the heart and soul of this talented father-son combo.

Susan Miller Tweedy, mother and wife to the Tweedy duo, was diagnosed with a rare case of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma in April and underwent months of excruciating chemo treatments to fight the cancer cells. In Sukierae (named for Sue) we hear the heartache, desperation and resounding hope of a loving family in support of their adored matriarch. Tweedy writes to his wife in heartfelt tracks such as “Slow Love,” “New Moon” and the heart-wrenching “Where My Love” (“I want to watch you growing old and dumb,” he yearns. “I want to see what you and I become”) while also commenting on his concern for his son in the metaphoric “Pigeons.” The entire album is a piece of lyrical art, arguably the most vulnerable we’ve ever heard from Tweedy before.

Sukierae is not all tears, though. Tweedy & Co. bring much of the effortless fun that we would expect to hear from Wilco onto some of the newer tracks. The opening track, “Please Don’t Let Me Be So Understood” is a lively thrasher with clashing minor chords behind a steady stream of complaints about mediocrity and predictability. “Wait For Love” and “Low Key” are two other tracks that show that Tweedy hasn’t lost all of his faith in love and humanity. Both songs are simple and humble with gorgeous instrumentals to augment Tweedy’s crooning.

Spencer Tweedy gives a youthfulness to the album with his garage-style of freelance drumming, creating a lazy, flowing sound which adds beautifully to the intricacy of his father’s work. His work is best exemplified on the groovy “World Away,” highlighted with an awesome snare line and light acoustics.

If Tweedy (the band) is going to release any further work, it’s relevant in the experimental sounds introduced in the six minute “Diamond Light Pt. 1.” The track sounds like nothing Jeff Tweedy has done before, infused with tribal drums, synthesizers and trance-like vocals, before a terrifyingly harsh interlude crashes into the chorus and ignites a psychedelic finish to an epic song.

Whether it be a quick break from Wilco or a start to something brand new, Sukierae gives Jeff Tweedy fans a look at where he’s been, where he is currently and where he might go in an entertaining listen.

Rating: B

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