Alpha Mike Foxtrot: Rare Tracks 1994-2014
Wilco is commemorating its 20th anniversary as a band with two big releases: the four-disc rarities set Alpha Mike Foxtrot and the greatest-hits set What’s Your 20?. Both sets give us an interesting opportunity to look back on the band’s legacy without the shadow of Yankee Hotel Foxtrot looming over everything. Alpha Mike Foxtrot gives us a new way to imagine the Wilco story. In collecting 77 non-album tracks, culled from bonus discs and compilations, soundtracks and b-sides, live cuts and demos, this four-disc collection suggests that Wilco didn’t have an experimental period. Instead, we see Wilco as an ever-changing experiment in and of itself. The band’s sound grows and changes and morphs, but it never really leaves the past behind.
—Matthew Fiander, PopMatters.com
For Bryan Ferry, the release of Avonmore serves as a statement of purpose, a reminder that musically he’s been here before (and for some time), both with Roxy Music and as a solo artist. Given the mainstream’s embrace of all things nostalgic and ’80s, Avonmore , while not a straight cash-grab, functions perfectly within the current crop of retro-minded performers looking to mine territory previously excavated by Ferry. Avonmore functions as a well-deserved victory lap for both Ferry and those he’s assembled, triumphantly returning to relevance and reminding listeners he’s been doing this since the ’70s. It’s just taken this long for the mainstream to catch up with where he’s been all along.
—John Paul, PopMatters.com
Ariel Pink has a new album, a double LP called pom pom, that he’s foisting on the public sans his backing group Haunted Graffiti. pom pom flows from one ebb to the other, and has more than its share of “I can’t get this outta my head” numbers. It’s a pure pop flourish, one that comes with a sense of the whimsy. The record is also stylistically diverse without that getting in the way of things. Nevertheless, it is arguably the most consistent-sounding thing that Pink has released, even if it is stylistically over the map. Though there’s a melange of things going on, every piece feels calculated to be part of a whole – a remarkable feat, considering this album’s more than one hour running time.
— Zachary Houle, PopMatters.com
Nearly four decades on, can a punk band offer inspiration to not only those who were raised with them, but those who never caught them at their peak? The Buzzcocks soldier on, and like many of their peers who decide to do so, they mingle their old tunes on stage with new ones. Every few years, the band tours and shares with its loyal audience both, and here are ten fresh tracks in the form of The Way. The album proves to be respectable, as much of the band’s work since members Pete Shelley and Steve Diggle reunited in the ’90s has. But it must be admitted that, as with many such efforts from reformed outfits, the original musicians and their original efforts stand up best. All in all, this album will meet the needs of fans wanting new songs from the venerable band. But it will remind many fans, as it has me, of the band’s earlier work, and may pale by comparison.
—Alex Ramon, PopMatters.com
Other notable releases this week:
Captain Beefheart, Sun Zoom Spark: 1970-1972
Chumped, Teenage Retirement
Native America, Grown Up Wrong
Various Artists, While No One Was Looking: Toasting 20 Years of Bloodshot Records
Robin Gibb, 50 St. Catherine’s Drive
Mellgrove Band, Bones of Things
Hans Zimmer , Interstellar: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack
Nickelback, No Fixed Address