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The Magnificent Defeat (Bonus Tracks)

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iTunes Review

Prior to his untimely death, Jay Bennett recorded The Magnificent Defeat with ample help from fellow collaborator Edward Burch and multi-instrumentalist David Vandervelde. Sounding nearly nothing like his former band Wilco, “Slow Beautifully Seconds Faster” opens with a catchy melody vining up from the beautiful chaos of a sonic maelstrom, wherein vintage drum machines collide with detuned parlor pianos. It’s like Bennett put old Pavement and early Wilco demos into a blender with a heaping helping of his own innovative ideas before singing on top of everything with a weathered voice. He immediately changes gears in the bouncy “5th Grade” as Beach Boys-inspired harmonies glide over a barrage of kids’ toy instruments and a solid snare-heavy beat. He flirts with his alt-country roots on the lightly galloping “Wide Open” before inflecting like Elvis Costello on the more orchestrated “The Palace At 4AM.” Of the two bonus tracks, the rootsy “Junior” is the most accessible.

Customer Reviews

Excellent album

I withdrew my first review of this album. At first, I called it merely "a good album." But, I haven't been able to stop listening to it. (As opposed to the recent album by Jay's former band, which I shelved after about ten run-throughs.) "The Magnificent Defeat" is superb. Sure, it's heavy on studio tricks and production, and it's not light listening. All Jay's albums are like that. Mathematicians don't do stripped-down. Jay has recorded a fine one, though. Three of the middle songs, "The Palace at 4AM," "Replace You," and "Out All Night" alone justify the cost of this album. "Out All Night" rocks with excellent layered guitars. I wonder about the subject of "Replace You." Is Jay writing about a woman? Or, maybe he really refers to the American electorate regretting its choice of W in the last two elections; wishing he'd go away, but lacking the gumption to kick him out the door. "I don't know why I never replaced you. I made decisions but never followed through." "Overexcusers," "Survey the Damage," and "I'm Feelin' Fine" are good songs with good arrangements. "Gold" starts as a ballad (I read somewhere that the ballad is about his grandmother - I don't know about that) but morphs after 2 minutes into a hilarious bar song. "She was six-beer ugly, and I was only three-beer drunk." The album rounds out with "Junior," another bar song that sounds like a cover. Don't know if Jay wrote it or not. Whatever. It's still good. I like this album better than "The Beloved Enemy" and almost as much as Jay's collaboration with Edward Burch, the album "The Palace at 4AM."

Pop Genius

Heard the painful news. A modern day Brian Wilson. RIP, Jay.

Magnificent Defeat? Well, he's half right.

Producing, Bennett's undeniable strong suit is overdone on this album. Perhaps to cover up his inadequacies in song writing ability and vocal talent. Desperate for the limelight since his days as Jeff Tweedy's right hand man, he has never been content to stay where he belongs, at the mix board or playing back-up. To his credit, Wilco's "I Am Trying To Break Your Heart" denied recognizing Bennett for things he does well (engineering, producing, etc.) and decided to focus on his whining.


Born: November 15, 1963 in Urbana, IL

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '90s, '00s

Jay Bennett, a multi-instrumentalist who was a prominent presence in Wilco, broke off from the group late in 2001. Before his departure, he began writing songs with Edward Burch and the two put out The Palace at 4 A.M. on Undertow Records in spring 2002. In fact, the pair have worked together in one capacity or another for about seven years. Bennett first became acquainted with Burch in Illinois. At the time, Bennett belonged to the bands Steve Pride & His Blood Kin and Titanic Love Affair. In 1996,...
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The Magnificent Defeat (Bonus Tracks), Jay Bennett
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