Wilco Album Reviews

Jeff Tweedy was always the junior partner in the pioneering alt-country band Uncle Tupelo, and when the group split into two factions, all indications were that Jay Farrar’s Son Volt would be the more consequential band. But after 1995’s A.M., multi-instrumentalist Jay Bennett joined Wilco, and the band’s ambition and range expanded dramatically on the 1996 double album Being There. From that early peak the band went from strength to strength, with the ornate pop of Summerteeth and the Mermaid Avenue collaborations with Billy Bragg, putting music to unrecorded Woody Guthrie lyrics.

But sessions for 2002’s Yankee Hotel Foxtrot were difficult, and the creative partnership between Tweedy and Bennett soured. The album was acclaimed as a masterpiece, with Tweedy’s emotive writing augmented by electronic effects, but the band who emerged at the end of the sessions were transformed; only Tweedy and bassist John Stirratt remained from the Being There lineup. 2004’s A Ghost Is Born was even more experimental, especially the 15 minute ‘Less Than You Think’, an aural representation of the migraines that Tweedy was experiencing.

2007’s Sky Blue Sky popularised the term “dad-rock’, and accordingly it’s a much more subdued effort, although still impressively crafted. Since then, Wilco have continued creating albums that are less ambitious and less acclaimed than their peak years, while remaining worthwhile. They’ve also gained a reputation as a very good live act, with a stellar back catalogue and virtuoso members like guitarist Nels Cline and drummer Glenn Kotche.

Ten Favourite Wilco Songs

Remember The Mountain Bed
Sunken Treasure
Poor Places
Company In My Back
Misunderstood
Spiders (Kidsmoke)
Impossible Germany
I’m The Man Who Loves You
I Can’t Stand It
Black Bull Nova