Local Wire

The Minus 5

Talented as he is, Wilco's Jeff Tweedy has never particularly struck me as "fun." Same goes for R.E.M. guitarist Peter Buck, unless he's (allegedly) throwing yogurt around an airplane cabin. But Minus 5 singer/commandant Scott McCaughey, he of Young Fresh Fellows, Tuatara, and late-period R.E.M. fame? Now that dude oozes fun like a lush sweating whiskey on the bus! He's not smashing watermelons or anything on this seven-song EP, but "McOi's" jovial spirit brings the jollity out of his rotating cast -- Buck, most of the members of Wilco, Rebecca Gates (Spinanes), Ken Stringfellow (the Posies), Bill Rieflin (Ministry, R.E.M.), and others -- and guides them through a loose, occasionally rockin', and rarely uninteresting set of skewed guitar-pop songs that's a sequel to (or leftovers from?) the M5's 2003 full-length Down With Wilco. Opener "Lyrical Stance" is a sweet minute-and-a-half garage romp; "Hotel Senator" gets wonderfully Kinks-y, with trash-lid percussion straight out of a Tom Waits number; and "The Days of Wine and Booze" offers an organ-fueled melody that '80s Elvis Costello would've been happy to call his own. The fun doesn't stop once the music ends, though -- also included is a terrifically warped, Monty Python-ish animated video for "The Town That Lost Its Groove Supply," created by former Replacements drummer Chris Mars.
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Michael Alan Goldberg