Featuring members of the Jayhawks, Soul Asylum, Run Westy Run, and Wilco, Golden Smog has in the past felt like a typical side gig: for die-hard fans only. Not anymore. Weird Tales is inspired top to bottom, whether on the... more » four-song streak of ragged rock that fronts the disc or the singular moments that follow, like the strangely soul-funky "Keys," Jeff Tweedy's Woody Guthrie-ized "Please Tell My Brother," or Kraig Johnson's "Making Waves," a crushing story of suicide behind the bathroom door. Including new Smogger Jody Stephens (ex-Big Star drummer), Weird Tales is an emotion-rich trip of Midwestern rock tones, loaded with both individual spirit and collective vision. If they keep this up, we might have to start calling them a real band. --Neal Weiss« less
Featuring members of the Jayhawks, Soul Asylum, Run Westy Run, and Wilco, Golden Smog has in the past felt like a typical side gig: for die-hard fans only. Not anymore. Weird Tales is inspired top to bottom, whether on the four-song streak of ragged rock that fronts the disc or the singular moments that follow, like the strangely soul-funky "Keys," Jeff Tweedy's Woody Guthrie-ized "Please Tell My Brother," or Kraig Johnson's "Making Waves," a crushing story of suicide behind the bathroom door. Including new Smogger Jody Stephens (ex-Big Star drummer), Weird Tales is an emotion-rich trip of Midwestern rock tones, loaded with both individual spirit and collective vision. If they keep this up, we might have to start calling them a real band. --Neal Weiss
A. M. Ward | Cambridge, MA United States | 04/03/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)
"A great CD cover lives up to the coolness...I don't even know what year I bought this CD, it's like I've had it forever. I can't even remember the motivation behind the purchase. Suffice to know that if you enjoy the "Americana" music style, or pop with hints of country and blues and rock... Really it's everything beautifully concocted in a tonic so delicious you won't care what to call it.This is such a marvelous CD I will simply say, if you're here reading this review and poking about wondering "what to buy" this is a guaranteed winner. It's probably better than the derivatives (bands) that created it. It includes a few different vocal styles (each wonderful) and a few song style approaches that vary (modestly) and are exquisite in execution.Wow that's a wordy little explanation but it moves me and I hope you'll give it a try too. This is a worthy CD and a beautiful addition to any varied collection of Americana music."
To call my own
Howlinw | California, USA | 11/10/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I've been a fan of this kind of music since I picked up a copy of Uncle Tupelo's "Anodyne" at Amoeba Records in Berkeley some years back. Since then, I've amassed a collection including music by Wilco, Tupelo, Son Volt, Old 97s, Jayhawks, My Morning Jacket, Alejandro Escovedo, and more. I have to say that this disc gets nearly the most play out of all of them.
I can't define exactly what qualities make this disc so appealing to me. Something in the harmonies, the fact that the musicians are obviously enjoying themselves, the similarity in sound to some of the better 80s "college rock" (like REM and the Replacements) as well as Big Star and Teenage Fanclub's later work, and also the time the disc came into my life, right when I needed it. It's kind of an anchor in my huge music collection, and I am always seeking more discs that will have this kind of an impact on me.
IMHO, "to call my own" is one of the best songs I have ever heard. If I were ever to write an equivalent to Nick Hornby's "Songbook," this track would be chapter one.
If you made it this far, and are still reading this review, you really owe it to yourself to take that next step and just buy it. It's that good."
Brian D. Rubendall | Oakton, VA | 04/09/2003
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Rock and Roll "supergroups" rarely live up to the sum of their parts. Usually the egos involved sabotage the seemless musicianship needed to make good music (for proof, I direct you to most of Emmerson, Lake and Palmer's dreary output). Not so with Golden Smog's superb "Weird Tales." The two heavy hitters among the the Smog's lineup are Wilco's Jeff Tweedy and The Jayhawks' Gary Louris, and it is to them that many of the best moments on the album can be attributed.Tweedy's contributions include the very Wilco-like "Lost Love" and "I Can't Keep From Talking," as well as the traditional folk number "Please Tell My Brother," that is one of the best things he's ever written. For his part, Louris answers with the very Jayhawks-esque "Until You Came Along" and "Jane" as well as the surprisingly rocking closing track "Jennifer Save Me," that is the CD's best song. Other highlights include onetime Jayhawk Kraig Johnson's "Looking Forward to Seeing You" and the Johnson/Louris collaboration "If I Only Had a Car."Overall, an excellent collaboration that greatly exceeds its side project expectations."
Don't miss this one
pmac124 | Los Angeles, CA | 11/04/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I usually review books here. But I Can't Keep From Talking about this CD. It's addicting in its catchy hooks. I swear, you cannot help get sucked into this CD.
Long ago I decided that Jay Ferrar had won the post-Tupelo battle over Tweedy. I've always gravitated to the gravelly Sonvolt over the poppy Wilco, (with the exception of "Being There," a truly fine album), but I am a huge Jayhawks fan, yeah I know, as poppy as they can be, but it's different, OKAY?
Well Tweedy wins some brownie points here. I don't mean to give him too much credit, for this is a product of the collaborative efforts of some big-time players. No one wants to call them "alt-country" as if it is an anachronism, but I can't come up with another name, so, this is essentially a CD of the alt-country all-stars. Perhaps "all-stars" is wrong, and should be replaced with "Pioneers."
There is subdued stuff, poetic stuff, and just flat out good music here. Looking Forward To Seeing You is a nice ride, Jennifer Save Me could probably save you if you truly needed saving, and Until You Came Along is going to explain to you that you didn't know a good song until this one "came along." I can't think of a better sing-along that gets the juices flowing.If you like hip-hop or Mariah Carey, forget it. If you are jonesing for some fantastic music, and I tell you, the first time you hear this CD you will remember the moment, a good true moment, all the way up to the last spectacular track, then you better buy this for your own good."