The Minus 5 Down With Wilco

Former Young Fresh Fellow and sometimes REM sideman Scott McCaughey marks the tenth anniversary of his side project collective, the Minus 5, with a brilliant full-length of first-rate songwriting and astonishing musical depth mingled with a requisite measure of humour. Rarely have those often-disparate elements come together so effectively and successfully. The titular reference to Wilco is appropriate both in terms of the quality of this work and its measured elements of rootsy Americana. The fact that Jeff Tweedy is among those on the requisite guest list this time confirms the disc's name is intended as a pledge of support or allegiance rather than a condemnation. Incidentally, Tweedy has been a member of the Minus 5's always-changing line-up before. The same goes for some of the other players here, like Peter Buck and the Posies' Ken Stringfellow. Though it doesn't appear on all of the disc's 13 tracks, the piano plays a significant role here - an important point of interest given the ivories haven't sounded this apropos on a pop record since Bowie put away the makeup in the mid-'70s. Fans of classic Eno, Beach Boys and Big Star are in for a treat, as is anyone else who tweaks to this stratospheric release. (Yep Roc)