There's nothing better than having your front man fuck up in public, especially when your band is about to release a new album. Jason Stollsteimer let Jack White go smack-my-bitch-up on his face, and suddenly the Von Bondies became positively anticipated. Likewise, Jeff Tweedy checked into rehab for painkiller addiction, and the chatter surrounding Wilco's A Ghost Is Born nearly raised the terror-alert level to orange. The difference? Wilco was worth the hype. The outfit seems reborn on Ghost: Extended guitar solos recall vintage Neil Young, while bursts of triumphant keyboard echo Billy Joel six cocktails deep. The once humble little y'allternative band seems to want nothing more than to rock, a point they're proving with inspired performances across the board. Still, it's the maudlin that anchors Wilco, and between fistfuls of feedback and Tweedy's brooding lyrics, plenty remains. "The best songs will never get sung/The best life never leaves your lungs," Tweedy laments on "The Late Greats." Maybe so, but audiences will still be on their feet for whatever life Tweedy decides to breathe.


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