Tweedy, Aphex Twin, and Lucinda Williams 

Sound Advice

click to enlarge Tweedy



dBpm Records/Anti

File next to: Jayhawks, Uncle Tupelo

On recent Wilco outings, Jeff Tweedy has often gone for the long sprawl, filling expansive albums with extended tracks like "One Sunday Morning" and "Impossible Germany." Now, Tweedy and his son Spencer have paired up for a two-disc duo collaboration that clocks in at nearly two hours. While that may sound like a formula for overindulgence, there's surprisingly little filler here. In fact, most of the 20 tracks would make decent Wilco songs. The first disc offers driving rhythms and plenty of variation, from the powerful "Please Don't Let Me Be So Understood" to the pensive "Nobody Dies Anymore." The second is a gentler, more folky effort, with less of Spencer's percussion, but more of the acoustic country sound that marked Tweedy's early projects. While this won't rank with Wilco's best, it's still far from being a father-and-son vanity project. — Loring Wirbel

click to enlarge Aphex Twin

Aphex Twin


Warp Records

File next to: The Flashbulb, Venetian Snares

Having released no music in eight years, Richard D. James is free of the hideous trappings of modern EDM. SYRO is quintessentially Aphex Twin: an hour of quirky but danceable jazz beats with sounds ranging from glitchy to melodic. There's nothing as flashy or fist-pumpy as proud Aphex fan Skrillex makes, but that's not what James is about. SYRO harkens back to a time when raves were scaring newscasters. But the music has to stand apart from the myth, and here, it does. Whether on faster tracks like "CIRCLONT14 (shrymoming mix)" or chilled-out grooves like the 10-minute "XMAS_EVET10 (thanaton3 mix)," there's a lot to hear. Sparser tracks like "180db_" have clever little details that are easy to miss on the first listen. Even the fastest tracks still feel composed and deliberate. Cross your fingers for a Chris Cunningham-directed video. — Griffin Swartzell

click to enlarge Lucinda Williams

Lucinda Williams

Down Where the Spirit Meets the Bone

Highway 20 Records

File next to: Tift Merritt, Mary Gauthier

For a woman with a voice so world-weary that each song sounds like it could be her last, Lucinda Williams still has a love of the majestic. There's a state of grace that shows on albums like 2011's Blessed. At other times, she delivers messages as stark and insistent as a street preacher intent on saving us all. Williams' new two-disc opus is a sermon not unlike Neil Young's Tonight's the Night. It opens with the stripped-down poem "Compassion" by her father, Miller Williams, which does not so much weep as snarl about the need for human kindness. Arrangements turn to more traditional blues on the second disc, but the hellfire never lets up. Often the delivery is humorous, as when her "East Side of Town" provides a sarcastic reworking of Johnny Rivers' "Poor Side." Williams wants no pity party, only a congregation ready to reform the world. — Loring Wirbel


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