The Minus 5

SXSW Records

Phases and Stages

The Minus 5

Down With Wilco (Yep Roc) On their latest outing, the Minus 5, the ever-morphing musical project headed up by Scott McCaughey of Young Fresh Fellows, becomes a pop consortium of the highest order. Alongside McCaughey are Peter Buck (R.E.M.), Ken Stringfellow (Posies), and as the Down With implies, the gents from Wilco, whose Yankee Hotel Foxtrot elevated pop to new levels of sophistication and credibility. Whereas past Minus 5 albums were more cut-and-paste, with McCaughey and company laying down basic tracks and adding bits contributed by the various celebrity guests, this is a collaborative studio effort. The synergy shows, too; it's as tight an album as could be possible from such a gaggle. Given the many musical toys and ditties here, call this circus pop: dance melodies adorned with every trick and embellishment that fits, just short of spilling over the top. It's one of those albums that's good, but you also know you won't listen to it all that much. Where Wilco's pop sounds intense and dark and of dire consequence, even while dancing through all manner of merry melody, Down With Wilco sounds just a bit cheeky, addressing the songs with the slightest wink and nudge. It works -- the songs are hard-wrought and full of brains and life that are lacking in much pop music -- but that's just it: it works, it doesn't amaze. (Continental Club, Thursday, March 13, 9pm)

**.5

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