Wilco’s 'Hot Sun Cool Shroud' review: More than just your regular EP

Jeff Tweedy and company stretch some borders…again
Jeff Tweedy of Wilco
Jeff Tweedy of Wilco / Taylor Hill/GettyImages

When a wider audience got a bit familiar with Jeff Tweedy, as part of the ground-breaking alt-country band at the start of the nineties, he might have been perceived as just one of the three songwriting equals along with Jay Farrar and Mike Heidron. As the band fell apart and Tweedy formed Wilco, the band's self-titled debut album (1995) gave very little indication of what was to come from both Tweedy and his band.

Yet, already by Being There, Wilco’s second album, as if both Tweedy as songwriter and band simply exploded and started reaching some then unfathomable heights. With very few glitches along the way, Wilco has become one of the best rock bands on the scene, with their music going in as many directions as rock has gone so far.

At the same time, most of the band’s music was formed and presented in the album format, with (very) occasional EP’s serving mainly as a presentation of a larger (album) whole, or as a tour vehicle. That is possibly why not many media critics (and followers) didn’t make much of a fuss about Wilco’s latest six-song EP Hot Sun Cool Shroud prior to its release.

Wilco's new EP is as it should be and what you need this summer

Still, the EP clocks in at less than 17 minutes or so, and Tweedy and his cohorts could again stretch some borders, whether they wanted it or not.

First of all, it is July, and releasing a summer-themed EP - the cover features a lime or grapefruit - should set a theme in itself, and so should the songs presented on the record.

Songs from the 1960s that have no business being great but are. Songs from the 1960s that have no business being great but are. dark. Next

Then, Wilco gets into the songs themselves, with the opener “Hot Sun” turning out to be a scorcher of prime class.  Taken just by itself, the brief instrumental “Livid” that follows might sound just like the band stretching its chops. Coupled with another brief instrumental, penultimate “Inside The Bell Bones,” it turns out as if Tweedy and the band referenced, intentionally or unintentionally, another summer (and all-around classic), The Beach Boys Pet Sounds and its duo of instrumentals.

But that is not all. “Ice Cream” could turn out to be Wilco’s perfect summer song with all that it includes. “Annihilation” could fit on any Wilco album and has a cool guitar reference to the Beatles circa Revolver, and concluding “Say You Love Me” ranks among Tweedy’s best ballads. So much for an "ordinary and routine" EP.

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