When people ask me what are some artists that exemplify what a great rock band should be, one of the first bands that always comes to mind is Wilco. They are a consistently solid group that features stellar musicians. Nels Cline is one of the most underrated guitarists ever. Just listen to songs like "Impossible Germany" to hear him tear into a sweepingly emotional solo. Glenn Kotche is another member who doesn't get enough credit. His drumming is not as loud and bombastic as Keith Moon, but his technicality is brilliant.
Then there's Jeff Tweedy. Originally a member of alt-country pioneer group Uncle Tupelo. After Tupelo broke up he formed Wilco, still keeping some of that country twang, he added a touch of Tom Petty rock, and Woody Guthrie folk. Upon looking at him, he has the look of a tortured soul, a music vet who has seen his fair share of heartbreak and wild times. Since Tweedy is one of the few original members of Wilco left with the band, it is safe to say that he is the heart of the band.
It's hard to believe that a band that is as critically acclaimed as they are remain relatively unknown to the mainstream audience. I would bet you if you went up to a random person on the street and asked them to name a Wilco album or song they couldn't do it. That certainly isn't their fault. Great music doesn't get promoted as much any more, which is one of the reasons why things like Radio are becoming more and more obsolete. It's hard to say where or if Wilco had their musical pinnacle. Many critics would point to Yankee Hotel Foxtrot while others are still partial to the earlier and louder work of Being There.
Wilco are at a very unique position in their careers right now; comfortable. The incarnation of Wilco today seems to be unbelievably happy playing together. Tweedy has stated in several interviews that he has faced and conquered all of his demons, and has even fathered a son. When most bands reach this point of being comfortable with the rockstars they are, their creative process tends to suffer, and their music seems lackluster and uninspired (see Weezer). Not Wilco, which leads me to their newest 2009 release Wilco (The Album).
This disc showcases a fully realized Wilco, with this release they are able to harness some of the darker moments of Yankee Hotel Foxtrot and mold it with the sound of Sky Blue Sky. This results in songs like "Bull Black Nova" or "You Never Know" some of the most accessible and strongest material Wilco has put out to date. This is what excites me about Wilco (The Album), they have finally found themselves and are able to continue being as relevant and entertaining as they were in their early years. Which is why this album, will most likely be top five, if not top three on my end of the year list.
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