When pioneering alt-country band Uncle Tupelo split in the mid-1990s, they broke off into two camps. Jay Farrar started the rootsy, twangy (if lyrically elliptical) Son Volt. Singer/songwriter/guitarist Jeff Tweedy, who co-led the band with Farrar, established himself anew with Wilco. Though Wilco initially offered country-influenced rock not unlike that of Tweedy's former outfit, they quickly progressed through the Stones-meet-Big Star shambling two-disc epic BEING THERE, the Beach Boys/Beatles-influenced pop of SUMMER TEETH, and the screwy, art-damaged, Jim O'Rourke-produced YANKEE HOTEL FOXTROT, whose release was notoriously delayed due to label apathy, though the album was eventually hailed as the group's masterpiece.
11 songs about America that echo and update some of the themes heard on early albums by The Band, Bob Dylan, and Neil Young. Enhanced format features exclusive live footage, band photos, and a trailer for the film 'I Am Trying to Break Your Heart'. Slipcase. 2002.
Named in honor of the three-word codes used by short-wave radio operators, Wilco's fourth album sounds like a late-night broadcast of some weirdly wonderful pop station punctuated by static and the sonic bleed of competing signals. Songs that begin with simple, elegiac grace--"Ashes of American Flags" and "Poor Places"--end in a cathartic squall of distortion. The results can be initially jarring, but it's these tracks more than the sturdy jangle pop of "Kamera" or "Heavy Metal Drummer" that demand, and reward, repeated listens. Mixed by studio experimentalist Jim O'Rourke and produced by the band, Yankee Hotel Foxtrot harkens back to a time when the words "pop" and "sonic adventurism" weren't mutually exclusive. The Beatles and Kurt Cobain knew this, and clearly so do Jeff Tweedy and company. --Keith Moerer
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