WILCO > Ashes of American Flags

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When it comes to the defining Wilco movie, 2002’s I Am Trying To Break Your Heart is hard to beat. But while that was more of a documentary interspersed with electrifying music, Ashes is a concert film which highlights the band’s ferocious live performances.

Label: NONESUCH
[Rating: 4.5 STARS]

When it cometo the defining Wilco movie, 2002’s I Am Trying To Break Your Heart is hard to beat. But while that was more of a documentary interspersed with electrifying music, Ashes is a concert film which highlights the band’s ferocious live performances. Really, they feature two different Wilcos-Glenn Kotche had just joined the band at the time of Break Your Heart, but Nels Cline, Pat Sansone, and Wilco’s latest repertoire of songs were missing. Jay Bennett and his country shirts are gone-same with original drummer Ken Coomer. This Wilco wears Nudie suits-figure that one out. They’re also a band at peace with themselves and their music.

The pic begins with Jeff Tweedy in cowboy hat, discussing arrangements with the band for “Ashes” before performing it for an empty room. Twelve live cuts from the 2008 tour follow, interspersed with interviews, interludes, and ruminations on the declining state of small-town America. The whole thing is shot Last Waltz-style, where you feel like you’re on stage with the musicians. Nels Cline is the true MVP of this set. His guitar solos make other guitar solos look like slack-jawed yokels. He plays guitar like a mandolin, like a hummingbird on fire. It all builds to a great ending, with a surprise bonus appearance by Old Man Tweedy.



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