Release Date: Jul 18, 2006
Record label: Lost Highway
Genre(s): Rock, Alt-Country
In 1998, when Golden Smog released their second full-length album, Weird Tales, they were the premier supergroup of the alt-country movement, featuring key members of two of the scene's biggest acts, Wilco and the Jayhawks, as well as roots-friendly guitarist Dan Murphy from Soul Asylum. Eight years later, things are different for everyone involved with the band; alt-country never enjoyed the commercial breakthrough many were expecting, Wilco evolved into a noise-friendly prog-pop band, the Jayhawks got less twangy and more expressively hooky on the road to breaking up, Soul Asylum effectively dropped off the map for close to a decade, and 2006's Another Fine Day audibly reflects the many changes these musicians have gone through. Jeff Tweedy of Wilco is now easily the biggest name in this band, and significantly, he's more stingy with his time; his songwriting credits amount to two songs penned with Jayhawk Gary Louris, and he only appears on six of the disc's 15 tracks.
It's been eight years since the last Golden Smog album, which may be down to the logistical problems of assembling a band including Wilco's Jeff Tweedy, Big Star's Jody Stephens, Dan Murphy from Soul Asylum and no less than three Jayhawks. While Golden Smog is ostensibly a fun, part-time vehicle, there must be some simmering ego clashes involved, however subconscious. Thus, the best tracks here benefit from an indiscernible undercurrent.
When last we left Golden Smog (1998's Weird Tales), Soul Asylum was derailed by colossal misfire Let Your Dim Light Shine, Wilco was about to shed its rootsy cocoon with Summerteeth, and the Jayhawks were on temporary leave from dominating AAA playlists. Now the Jayhawks are no more, Soul Asylum lost bassist Karl Mueller to cancer in 2005, and Wilco is worshipped by every muso with bedhead and a four-track – including de facto GS frontman Kraig Johnson. The onetime Run Westy Run singer's contributions, most co-written with Jayhawk alum Gary Louris, dominate Another Fine Day and echo Yankee Hotel Foxtrot's formula of forlorn, bleary pop-rock sheathed in random amounts of ambient noise.