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67. Wilco – Handshake Drugs

18/10/2009

ghost

The body of Handshake Drugs is a lovely bit of unassuming songwriting, but what really separates it from countless other similar tunes is the muffled, distorted guitar line that starts so quietly after about 90 seconds and builds stealthily throughout the track until it overpowers the entire band in the final minute. The track finishes with 45 seconds of tickling, cracked noise, but this just isn’t postmodernism for its own sake – Jeff Tweedy recorded Handshake Drugs while trying to overcome a heavy addiction to painkillers, suffering from excruciating migraines, and the guitar’s gnawing buzz works as a brilliant sonic expression of Tweedy’s trobbing head. Thankfully though, it’s not all aural-headache: the discomfort is tempered by a wonderfully restrained arrangement that shuffles along on a modest but persuasive groove, always gathering momentum but never pace, so that when the switch from melody to noise happens, it’s virtually seamless.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. Gem Colbert permalink
    25/10/2009 7:00 pm

    Love this song.

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