Infobox musical artist
Name = Wilco
Img_capt = Wilco performing at the 2004 Austin City Limits festival
Img_size = 350
Landscape = yes
Background = group_or_band
Chicago, Illinois, USA
Alternative rock, alternative country, folk rock, experimental rock
Years_active = 1994–present
Label = Nonesuch, Reprise
Uncle Tupelo, Loose Fur, The Autumn Defense, Golden Smog
URL = [http://www.wilcoworld.net/ www.wilcoworld.net]
Jeff Tweedy John Stirratt Nels Cline Glenn Kotche Pat Sansone Mikael Jorgensen
Leroy Bach Max Johnston Jay Bennett Bob Egan Ken Coomer
Wilco is an American rock band based in
Chicago, Illinois. The band was formed in 1994 by the remaining members of alternative countrygroup Uncle Tupelofollowing singer Jay Farrar's departure. Wilco's lineup has changed frequently, with only singer Jeff Tweedyand bassist John Stirrattremaining from the original incarnation. The other current members are guitarist Nels Cline, multi-instrumentalists Pat Sansoneand Mikael Jorgensen, and drummer Glenn Kotche. Wilco has released six studio albums, a live double album, and three collaborations: two with Billy Bragg, and one with The Minus 5.
Wilco's music has been inspired by a wide variety of artists and styles, including
Bill Fayand Television, and has in turn influenced music by The National and Cherry Ghost. The band continued in the alternative country of Uncle Tupelo on its debut album "A.M." (1995), but has since introduced more experimental aspects to their music.
Wilco garnered media attention for its fourth album, "
Yankee Hotel Foxtrot" (2002), and the controversy surrounding it. After the recording sessions were complete, Reprise Recordsrejected the album and dismissed Wilco from the label. As part of a buy-out deal, Reprise gave Wilco the rights to the album for free. After streaming "Foxtrot" on its website, Wilco sold the album to Nonesuch Recordsin 2002. Both record labels are subsidiaries of Warner Music Group, leading one critic to say that the album showed "how screwed up the music business [was] in the early twenty-first century." [cite news|last=Fricke|first=David|authorlink=David Fricke|url=http://www.rollingstone.com/artists/wilco/albums/album/322307/review/5946403/yankee_hotel_foxtrot|title=Yankee Hotel Foxtrot (review)|publisher=" Rolling Stone"|date=May 9, 2002 Last accessed July 18, 2007.] "Yankee Hotel Foxtrot" is Wilco's most successful release to date, selling over 590,000 copies. Wilco won two Grammy Awards for their fifth studio album, 2004's " A Ghost Is Born", including Best Alternative Music Album.
Wilco was formed following the breakup of the influential alternative country music group
Uncle Tupelo. Singer Jay Farrarquit the band in 1994 supposedly because of a soured relationship with co-singer Jeff Tweedy. [cite news|last=Blackstock|first=Peter|url=http://www.nodepression.net/issues/nd01/sonvolt.html|title=Jay Farrar Traces a Path Away from Uncle Tupelo|publisher="No Depression"|date=Fall 1995 Last accessed July 9, 2007.] Both Tweedy and Farrar sought to form bands immediately after the breakup. Tweedy was able to keep the entire Uncle Tupelo lineup sans Farrar, including bassistJohn Stirratt, drummer Ken Coomer, and multi-instrumentalist Max Johnston. The band was tempted to keep the Uncle Tupelo name, but ultimately decided to rename the band. [cite news|last=Sheridan|first=Phil|title=Roger, Wilco|publisher="Magnet"|date=February 1995] The group named itself "Wilco" after the CB radio voice procedurefor "I Will Comply". [Kot 2004. p. 89]
"A.M." and "Being There"
After collaborating with
Syd Strawon a cover version of the Ernest Tubbsong, "The T.B. is Whipping Me" (released in September 1994 on the " Red Hot + Country" compilation), Wilco began recording tracks for "A.M.", their first studio album, at Easley studio in June 1994. [cite news|last=Dawne|first=Vanessa|title=Wilco (interview)|publisher="Pop Culture Press"|year=1995] [Kot 2004. p. 89] A demo tape from these recordings was sent to executives at Reprise Records, a subsidiary of Warner Brothers, and the label signed Tweedy to a contract. Although Tweedy stated that he wanted a more collaborative project than Uncle Tupelo, only his name appeared on the Reprise contract.Kot 2004. p. 92] Tweedy requested songwriting submissions from other members, but only one submission—John Stirratt's "It's Just That Simple"—appeared on "A.M.". It was the last song Wilco ever released that was solely written by a member besides Tweedy.
Stylistically similar to Uncle Tupelo, the music on "A.M." was considered to be straightforward alternative country rock in what Tweedy later described as "trying to tread some water with a perceived audience." [cite news|last=Cameron|first=Keith|title=Last Twang in Town|publisher="Vox"|date=May 1997] "A.M." peaked at number twenty-seven on the "Billboard" Heatseekers chart, considerably lower than the debut album of Jay Farrar's new band,
Son Volt. [cite news|title=Heatseekers|publisher="Billboard"|date=April 15, 1995] [cite news|title=The "Billboard" 200|publisher="Billboard"|date=October 7, 1995] The album was met with modest reviews though it would rank thirty-fourth in the " Village Voice"'s 1995 Pazz & Jopcritics poll. [cite news|last=George-Warren|first=Holly|url=http://www.rollingstone.com/artists/wilco/albums/album/230153/review/5942185/am|title=Wilco: "A.M." (review)|publisher="Rolling Stone"|date=February 2, 1998 Last accessed July 9, 2007.] [cite web|last=Erlewine|first=Stephen Tomas|authorlink=Stephen Thomas Erlewine|url=http://www.allmusic.com/cg/amg.dll?p=amg&sql=10:kmmyxdyboolk|title="A.M." > Overview|publisher= AllmusicLast accessed July 9, 2007.] [cite news|url=http://www.robertchristgau.com/xg/pnj/pjres95.php|title=The 1995 Pazz & Jop Critics Poll|publisher=" The Village Voice" Last accessed July 11, 2007.] Critically and commercially paling in comparison to the reception of Son Volt's album, the Wilco members perceived "A.M." to be a failure. [Kot 2004. p. 97] Shortly after the release of the album, multi-instrumentalist Jay Bennettjoined the band, providing the band with a keyboardist and another guitarist.
Wilco made its live debut on November 17, 1994 to a capacity crowd at Cicero's Basement Bar in
St. Louis, Missouri(the band was billed for the occasion as " Black Shampoo"). [cite news|last=Kuelker|first=Michael|title=New Wilco Satisfies Tupelo Fans|publisher="St. Louis Dispatch"|date=November 19, 1994 Last accessed September 2, 2007.]
During the two hundred-date tour supporting "A.M.", Tweedy began to write songs for a second album. The lyrical theme of the songs reflected a relationship between musical artist and a listener; Tweedy chose this topic because he sought to eschew the alternative country fan base. Ken Coomer elaborated: [Kot 2004. p. 110–1]
The whole "No Depression" thing was funny to us because people seemed to forget that Jeff was a bigger punk-rock fan than a country fan. It led to things like us all switching instruments on "Misunderstood," where I'm playing guitar.
A number of songs were recorded with this theme, including "Sunken Treasure" and "Hotel Arizona", [Kot 2004. p. 112] however, Wilco also recorded a number of songs in the style of "A.M."cite news|last=Blackstock|first=Peter|url=http://www.nodepression.net/issues/nd05/wilco.html|title=Being There, Doing That|publisher="No Depression"|date=September 1996 Last accessed July 11, 2007.] Wilco named the album "Being There" after a
Peter Sellersfilm of the same name. The band went through some personnel changes during the recording sessions. Max Johnston left the band because he felt that his role in the band had diminished in favor of Bennett; he had also been replaced by violinist Jesse Greene on one track because the band felt that Johnston was unable to play the part. Bob Egan of Freakwaterbriefly joined the band in the studio, playing pedal steel guitaron "Far, Far Away" and "Dreamer in My Dreams", and then became an official member in September 1996. [Kot 2004. p. 115] [Kot 2004. p. 119]
Unlike the "A.M." recording sessions, the band had no vocation for producing a hit song from their second effort. [Kot 2004. p. 114] The recording sessions produced nineteen songs, too many for a single album release. Tweedy was concerned about the high retail price that a
double albumwould be sold for (at least $30), so he asked Reprise Records to release it as a double album at a single album price ($17.98 or less). Reprise agreed to this on the terms that they received Wilco's share of the album royalties. It was estimated in 2003 that the band lost almost $600,000 on the deal, but Tweedy was satisfied. [Kot 2004. p. 116] "Being There" was well-received by critics from several major media outlets, including " Rolling Stone". [cite web|last=Ankeny|first=Jason|url=http://www.allmusic.com/cg/amg.dll?p=amg&sql=10:varvad6ky8wn|title=Being There > Overview|publisher=Allmusic Last accessed July 11, 2007.] [cite news|last=Kot|first=Greg|url=http://www.rollingstone.com/artists/wilco/albums/album/240156/review/5946124/being_there|title=Being There (review)|publisher="Rolling Stone"|date=October 24, 1996 Last accessed July 11, 2007.] The album reached #73 on the "Billboard" album charts, [cite news|title=The "Billboard" 200|publisher="Billboard"|date=November 16, 1996] a significant improvement from "A.M.", and placed fourteenth on the Pazz & Jop Critics Poll for 1996. [cite news|url=http://www.robertchristgau.com/xg/pnj/pjres96.php|title=The 1996 Pazz & Jop Critics Poll|publisher="The Village Voice" Last accessed July 11, 2007.]
"Summerteeth" and the "Mermaid Avenue" sessions
In November 1997, Wilco entered
Willie Nelson's recording studio in Spicewood, Texasto record a third studio album. [Kot 2004. p. 138] The album was lyrically inspired by the marital problems of Tweedy and his wife, as well as by twentieth-century literature. [Kot 2004. p. 135] Tweedy relied heavily on Bennett to provide music for the singer's "bold, but depressing" lyrics. [Kot 2004. p. 140–1] Wilco recorded several songs, including "Via Chicago" and "She's a Jar," but began working on another project before assembling the tracks into an album. [Kot 2004. p. 138] Nora Guthriecontacted singer-songwriter Billy Braggin spring 1995 about recording some unreleased songs by her father, folk singer Woody Guthrie. Most of the songs were written late in Guthrie's life when he was unable to record due to the motor impairments of Huntington's disease. By the 1990s, Woody Guthrie had become a "relic" to the MTV generation, and Nora sought to establish a different legacy for the musician. To Nora, Bragg was "the only singer I knew taking on the same issues as Woody." Bragg was concerned, however, that his fans would not realize that the songs were written by Guthrie when he performed them on tour, so he decided to record the album with another band. [Kot 2004. p. 143]
Bragg contacted Tweedy and Bennett about co-recording the album while Wilco was on the European segment of their "Being There" tour. Bragg was particularly fond of "Being There" because their influences extended farther back than the 1950s. Although Tweedy was indifferent to the offer, Bennett was enthused about recording songs of one of his idols—Bennett's previous band
Titanic Love Affairwas named after a Billy Bragg lyric. A recording contract between Bragg and Wilco was signed after a show at Shepherd's Bush Empire. Bragg mostly recorded the politically-charged lyrics, while Tweedy preferred to record lyrics that showcased Guthrie as a "freak weirdo." The recording of " Mermaid Avenue" began on December 12, 1997, and was the topic of BBC's " Man in the Sand" documentary film. [Kot 2004. p. 144–5]
Tempers flared between Bragg and Wilco after the album was completed. Bennett believed that Bragg was overproducing his songs, a sharp contrast to Wilco's sparser contributions. Bennett called Bragg about the possibility of remixing Bragg's songs, to which Bragg responded with "you make your record, and I'll make mine, fucker." Eventually Bragg sent copies of his recordings to Chicago for Bennett to remix, but Bragg refused to use the new mixes on the album. The two parties were unable to establish a promotional tour and quarreled over royalties and guest musician fees.
Despite these conflicts, the album was released on June 23, 1998, and sold over 277,000 copies. [Kot 2004. p. 151–3] The album received rave reviews from Robert Christgau and "Rolling Stone", and was nominated for a
Grammy Award for Best Contemporary Folk Album. [cite news|last=Marcus|first=Greil|url=http://www.rollingstone.com/artists/wilco/albums/album/225606/review/6213088/mermaid_avenue|title=Mermaid Avenue (review)|publisher="Rolling Stone"|date=June 1, 1998 Last accessed July 14, 2007.] [cite web|last=Christgau|first=Robert|authorlink=Robert Christgau|url=http://www.robertchristgau.com/get_artist.php?id=2579&name=Billy+Bragg+%26+Wilco|title=CG: Billy Bragg & Wilco|publisher=robertchristgau.com Last accessed July 14, 2007.] It also placed fourth on the Pazz & Jop critics poll for 1998. [cite news|url=http://www.robertchristgau.com/xg/pnj/pjres98.php|title=The 1998 Pazz & Jop Critics Poll|publisher="The Village Voice" Last accessed July 14, 2007.] After the album was released, Bob Egan was replaced by multi-instrumentalist Leroy Bach. [Kot 2004. p. 169]
After the completion of the "Mermaid Avenue" sessions, Wilco returned to Spicewood to complete their third studio album, "
Summerteeth". Unlike previous Wilco and Uncle Tupelo recordings, the album featured a lot of overdubbing with Pro Tools. [Kot 2004. p. 154–5] Stirratt and Coomer were concerned with the production, since it reduced their involvement in the music. According to Stirratt: [Kot 2004. p. 158]
The story of "Summerteeth" is Jay bought a
Mellotronand he was going to use it, no matter what. It was lovely, but it was overdone. Once they got going on the overdubs, they didn't stop. And nobody in the band stepped up to stop the madness … It reminds me of " Heart of Darkness", where you knowingly extend the creative process for the purpose of exploration or redemption, or whatever it is you're looking for.
During 1999, Warner Brothers was looking to help repay a $16 billion debt acquired during the recent merger of parent company Warner Communications with
Time Inc.. [Kot 2004. p. 161] As a result, Warner's imprints were under pressure to produce musical acts that would yield hit records. The head of Reprise, Howie Klein, who had previously authorized the release of "Being There" as a double album, was willing to let Wilco produce "Summerteeth" without label input. When Klein played the album for Reprise's A&R department, however, they demanded a radio single for the album. Wilco agreed to do this "once and once only" and recorded a radio-friendly version of "Can't Stand It" at the request of David Kahne, the head of the A&R department. [Kot 2004. p. 162–5] The single version of "Can't Stand It" failed to cross over from Triple-A radio to alternative rock stations. Consequently, the album sold only 200,000 copies, significantly less than "Being There". [Kot 2004. p. 167] This was despite critical acclaim; the album placed eighth on the Pazz & Jop critics' poll for 1999. [cite news|url=http://www.robertchristgau.com/xg/pnj/pjres99.php|title=The 1999 Pazz & Jop Critics Poll|publisher="The Village Voice" Last accessed July 15, 2007.]
After the release of "
Summerteeth", the band resumed the "Mermaid Avenue" sessions. Although they had recorded enough material for a second release in 1998, Wilco recorded a few new songs for " Mermaid Avenue Vol. II". "Someday Some Morning Sometime," featuring a vibraphonefiltered through a space echo, was identified by Tweedy as being the "piece to the puzzle" towards the creation of their fourth studio album. The album was released on May 30, 2000, and was the last release from the sessions. [Kot 2004. p. 175]
"Yankee Hotel Foxtrot"
Shortly after the recording sessions for "Mermaid Avenue Vol. II", Wilco purchased a studio in
Irving Park, Chicago, which they named the Wilco Loft. [Kot 2004. p. 168] The band recorded some tracks in the studio in early 2000 for a fourth studio album. In May 2000, Jeff Tweedy requested to perform with Jim O'Rourke at a festival in Chicago; Tweedy was a fan of O'Rourke's "Bad Timing". O'Rourke introduced Tweedy to drummer Glenn Kotche, and the trio enjoyed working together so much that they decided to record an album as a side project named Loose Fur. [Kot 2004. p. 177–9] Wilco had recorded an entire album of music at this point, but Tweedy was unhappy with the drum parts. He enjoyed Kotche's contributions to Loose Fur so much that Tweedy brought him into the studio to re-record some demos. Some believe that Tweedy sought to make Wilco sound like Loose Fur after officially replacing Ken Coomer with Kotche in January 2001. [Kot 2004. p. 186–8] Although Bennett sought to act as both mixer and engineer for " Yankee Hotel Foxtrot", Tweedy was unsure of Bennett's abilities against those of O'Rourke. Tweedy and Bennett frequently argued over whether the album should be accessible to a general listener, or attempt to cover new musical ground. [Kot 2004. p. 195–6] Unbeknownst to Bennett, Tweedy invited O'Rourke to remix "I Am Trying to Break Your Heart", and the results impressed the other band members—even Bennett. Tensions grew between Bennett and O'Rourke because Bennett wanted to mix every song on the album. O'Rourke cut the contributions of other members on several of the songs; some songs, such as "Poor Places", only featured the Loose Fur trio. [Kot 2004. p. 198–9] The album was completed in 2001, and Bennett left the band immediately afterwards. [cite news|last=Fricke|first=David|title=In from the Cold|publisher="Mojo"|date=May 2002] The recording of the album was documented by Sam Jonesand released in 2002 as the film " I Am Trying to Break Your Heart".
Time Warner, which owned Warner Brothers, merged with
America Onlinein 2001, leading to more pressure on Warner's record labels to cut costs. Over 600 employees of Warner Music Group were fired, including Howie Klein, the president of Reprise Records. In absence of Klein, David Kahne became the interim head of Reprise. [Kot 2004. p. 201] Kahne assigned Mio Vukovic to monitor the progress of "Yankee Hotel Foxtrot" and to offer suggestions. Music journalist Greg Kot claims that Vukovic disdained the album and was unhappy that Wilco ignored his suggestions. [Kot 2004. p. 202] He brought the album to Kahne, who felt that there was no single on the album. In June 2001, the album was rejected by Reprise and Wilco was asked to leave the label. [Kot 2004. p. 203]
Wilco managed to negotiate terms to a buy-out from Reprise. Music journalist Greg Kot claims that instead of financial compensation, the band agreed to leave the label with the master tapes of "Yankee Hotel Foxtrot". [Kot 2004, p. 207] The label was already receiving bad publicity for its treatment of the band and were willing to accommodate Wilco's request. [cite news|last=Kot|first=Greg|url=http://web.archive.org/web/20010826133635/www.chicagotribune.com/features/lifestyle/chi-0108150038aug15.story?coll=chi-leisure-hed|title=Wilco's Shot in the Arm|publisher="
Chicago Tribune"|date=August 15, 2001 Last accessed via the Wayback Machine on July 15, 2007.] However, Allmusic claims that Wilco "bought the finished studio tapes from Warner/ Reprisefor a reported $50,000 and left the label altogether" after Wilco was " [u] nwilling to change the album to make it more 'commercially viable'" [ [http://wc05.allmusic.com/cg/amg.dll?p=amg&sql=11:jxfqxqqgld6e~T1 allmusic ((( Wilco > Biography ))) ] ] To curb the negative publicity, Reprise began to invest more in bands such as The Flaming Lips. Lead singer Wayne Coyneonce remarked: [Kot 2004. p. 209]
We are benefiting from the label's regret over Wilco. We are living in the golden age of that being such a public mistake. The people on Warners said, "we'll never have a band like Wilco feel we don't believe in them again." They'd tell me that it would never happen to us. And what a great day for me!
As the band searched for a new label to release the album, they decided to stream it at their official website to discourage illegal trading of low-quality
MP3s. [Kot 2004. p. 225–6] The band signed with Nonesuch Records, another Time Warnersubsidiary, and the album was released in the spring of 2002. When it was released, " Yankee Hotel Foxtrot" reached number thirteen on the "Billboard" 200, Wilco's highest chart position to that date. [cite news|title=The "Billboard" 200|publisher="|Billboard"|date=May 11, 2002] " Yankee Hotel Foxtrot" sold over 590,000 copies, and to date remains Wilco's best selling album.cite news|last=Cohen|first=Jonathan|url=http://www.billboard.com/bbcom/feature/article_display.jsp?vnu_content_id=1003571465|title=Wilco: In the Comfort Zone|publisher="Billboard"|date=April 13, 2007 Last accessed July 15, 2007.] "Yankee Hotel Foxtrot" was met with wide critical acclaim: it topped 2002's Pazz & Jop critics' poll, was named one of the 100 greatest albums of all time by " Q Magazine", and was named one of the 500 Greatest Albums of All Timeby "Rolling Stone". [cite web|url=http://www.villagevoice.com/specials/pazznjop/02/|title=Pazz & Jop 2002|publisher="The Village Voice" Last accessed July 15, 2007.] [cite news|title=2006 Q Magazine Readers' 100 Greatest Albums Ever|publisher="Q"|date=February 2006] [Levy 2005. p. 216]
"Down with Wilco", "A Ghost Is Born", and "Kicking Television: Live in Chicago"
While waiting for the commercial release of "Yankee Hotel Foxtrot", Wilco agreed to support R.E.M. collaborator
Scott McCaugheyfor an album release by The Minus 5. They scheduled a recording session for September 11, 2001, but were distraught about the 9/11terrorist attacks that day. [Kot 2004. p. 220] Later that day, Wilco and McCaughey agreed to "create something good in the world right now" and record some material.Kot 2004. p. 221] Influenced by Bill Fay's " Time of the Last Persecution", The Minus 5's " Down with Wilco" was released in 2003. [Kot 2004. p. 222] In November 2003, Wilco traveled to New York Cityto record their fifth album. Unlike "Summerteeth" and "Yankee Hotel Foxtrot", " A Ghost Is Born" featured songs that were created with Pro Tools before ever performing them live.Kot 2004. p. 240–1] The album featured the song "Less Than You Think", which included a fifteen-minute track of electronic noises and synthesizers, which Tweedy called "the track that everyone will hate". Tweedy justified the inclusion of the song:
Leroy Bach left the band immediately after the album's completion to join a music theatre operation in Chicago. [cite news|last=Pouncey|first=Edwin|title=Free the Spirit|publisher="The Wire"|date=August 2004] Like "Yankee Hotel Foxtrot", Wilco streamed the album online before its commercial release. Instead of using their own web page, the band streamed it in
MPEG-4form on Apple's website. [cite news|last=Jardin|first=Xeni|url=http://www.wired.com/culture/lifestyle/news/2004/11/65688|title="Music Is Not a Loaf of Bread"|publisher="Wired"|date=November 15, 2004 Last accessed July 23, 2007.] Wilco sought to substantially change their lineup after Bach's departure, and added Mikael Jorgensen, who had engineered "Down with Wilco", Pat Sansoneof The Autumn Defense, and avant-garde guitarist Nels Clineto the lineup. [Kot 2004. p. 243] Just as the band was about to tour to promote the album, Tweedy checked himself in to a rehabilitation clinic in Chicago for an addiction to painkillers. As a result, tour plans for Europe were canceled, and the release date for the album was set back several weeks. [Kot 2004. p. 244] "A Ghost Is Born" was released on June 22, 2004, and became Wilco's first top ten album in the U.S. [cite web|last=D'Angelo|first=Joe|url=http://www.mtv.com/news/articles/1489256/20040707/story.jhtml|title=Lloyd Banks' Hunger Debuts at #1; Brandy Settles for #3|publisher= MTV News|date=July 7, 2004 Last accessed July 16, 2007.] The album earned Wilco Grammy Awardsfor Best Alternative Music Albumand Best Recording Packagein 2005. [cite news|url=http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2005/02/14/in_depth_showbiz/main673822.shtml|title=2005 Grammy Award Winners: Complete List of 47th Annual Grammy Awards Winners|publisher= Associated Press|date=February 13, 2005 Last accessed July 16, 2007.] It also placed thirteenth on 2004's Pazz & Jop Critics Poll. [cite news|url=http://www.villagevoice.com/specials/pazznjop/04/albums_winners1.php|title=The 2004 Pazz & Jop Critics Poll|publisher="The Village Voice" Last accessed July 16, 2007.]
In 2004, the band released "
The Wilco Book", a picture book detailing the creation of "A Ghost Is Born". The book also contains writings and drawings from band members, as well as a CD with demos from the "A Ghost Is Born" recording sessions. [cite web|last=Tangari|first=Joe|url=http://www.pitchforkmedia.com/article/record_review/23182-the-wilco-book?artist_title=23182-the-wilco-book|title=The Wilco Book: Pitchfork Record Review|publisher= Pitchfork Media|date=November 1, 2004 Last accessed July 16, 2007.] Also that year, "Chicago Tribune" music critic Greg Kotreleased a biography of the band entitled '. The new six-piece Wilco lineup debuted on ', a two disc live album recorded at The Vic Theaterin Chicago. Released on November 15, 2005, the album received high accolades from "Spin", "Billboard", and " Entertainment Weekly". [cite web|url=http://www.metacritic.com/music/artists/wilco/kickingtelevision|title=Wilco: Kicking Television: Live in Chicago (2005)|publisher= MetacriticLast accessed July 16, 2007.] As of 2007, it has sold over 114,000 copies.
"Sky Blue Sky" and seventh album
Wilco returned to their loft in Chicago to record a sixth studio album in 2006. Influenced by
The Byrdsand Fairport Convention, the band considered " Sky Blue Sky" to be less experimental than previous releases. Also unlike previous albums, the songs were created as collaborations.
Wilco streamed the album online on March 3, 2007, and offered the song "What Light" as a free MP3 download. [cite web|last=Crock|first=Jason|url=http://www.pitchforkmedia.com/article/feature/42415-interview-wilco|title=Interview: Wilco|publisher=Pitchfork Media|date=May 7, 2007 Last accessed July 16, 2007.] To further publicize the album, Wilco licensed several songs from the "Sky Blue Sky" recording sessions for use in a
Volkswagenadvertising campaign. The move was criticized by both critics and fans; Wilco responded by noting that they had previously done advertising campaigns with Apple Computersand Telefónica Móviles (Movistar). [cite web|url=http://wilcoworld.net/news/index.php|title=Wilco – News|publisher=wilcoworld.net Last accessed July 16, 2007.] [cite news|last=Cohen|first=Jonathan|url=http://www.billboard.com/bbcom/news/article_display.jsp?vnu_content_id=1003594075|title=Wilco Takes a Spin with Volkswagen for TV Ads|publisher="Billboard"|date=June 5, 2007 Last accessed July 16, 2007.] [cite news|last=Caro|first=Mark|url=http://metromix.chicagotribune.com/tv/mmx-0610_pop1jun10,0,2442800.story?coll=mmx-television_heds|title=Does VW Deal Make Wilco a Sellout?|publisher="Chicago Tribune" Last accessed July 26, 2007.] The album was released on May 15, 2007, and was a commercial success: it sold over 87,000 copies in its first week and peaked in the top five in the U.S. album charts. [cite news|last=Hasty|first=Katie|url=http://www.billboard.com/bbcom/news/article_display.jsp?vnu_content_id=1003589114|title=Linkin Park Scores Year's Best Debut with 'Midnight'|publisher="Billboard"|date=May 23, 2007 Last accessed July 16, 2007.] It also was a top forty hit in seven other countries. [cite web|url=http://acharts.us/album/26043|title=Wilco – "Sky Blue Sky" – Music Charts|publisher=acharts.com Last accessed July 16, 2007.]
Reviewer James Brubaker states that Wilco “shine [s] on a handful of the songs” on "Sky Blue Sky", such as the “light, and straightforward” songs. While he calls the album “great traditional rock and folk album at times”, he states that “once you get past the handful of masterful and lovely performances… the rest of the record comes off at times as dull, and forced”. [cite web |url=http://www.30music.com/rev.php?mode=revrec&rev=2030 |title= "Sky Blue Sky" (CD) |last=Brubaker |first=James |date=2007-05-15 |work=30music.com Last accessed February 28, 2008.] The "allaboutjazz" review also had mixed comments. While praising the album as “deceptively insinuating, almost intoxicating to listen to” and noting its “impeccable sound quality”, the reviewer claimed that “Sky Blue Sky becomes the first Wilco album that sounds too careful for its own good.” [cite web |url=http://www.allaboutjazz.com/php/article.php?id=25762 |title= Sky Blue Sky |last=Collette |first=Doug |date=2007-06-09 |work=Allaboutjazz.com Last accessed February 28, 2008.]
Pabs Hernandez, a reviewer for "Lost at Sea" praised the album’s “breezy atmosphere and pacing”, and noted that it is not “easily judged upon first listen.” Overall, Hernandez stated that it “may be no masterpiece, but at worst it's a more than worthy entry into Wilco's laudable catalogue.” [cite web |url=http://www.lostatsea.net/review.phtml?id=12361925304652f9100a2f1 |title= Sky Blue Sky |last=Hernandez |first=Pablo |date=2007-05-22 |work=Lost at Sea Magazine Last accessed February 28, 2008.Reviewer Greg Locke praised the record as “one of the best albums of the year”, calling it a “timeless record, full of sweet, hopeful sophistication and class” and “a lean, mean, soulful album.” Like Hernandez, Locke acknowledged that the album could not be properly judged just on the first listening. [cite web |url=http://www.whatzup.com/Music/cd070507b.html |title= Sky Blue Sky Wilco |last=Locke |first=Greg |year=2007 |work=WhatzUp |publisher=Ad Media Inc. Last accessed February 28, 2008.] The NPR review also had a positive take on the record. While the NPR reviewer stated that the recording “isn't groundbreaking”, they praised its “coherent musical expression” and emphasis on “solid songcraft without pretense” which created a “satisfying and melodically sound albu [m] .” [cite web |url=http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=17174915 |title=The Best Albums of the Year, from KUT |last=Brown |first=David |authorlink=David Brown (radio host) |date=2007-12-14 |work=
National Public RadioLast accessed February 28, 2008.]
Jeff Tweedy has stated that the next Wilco album could be released by Spring 2009. The album will likely be a return to the studio-constructed soundscapes of "Yankee Hotel Foxtrot" and "A Ghost is Born", as opposed to the performance-based "Sky Blue Sky". [cite web|last=Cohen|first=Jonathan|url=http://www.billboard.com/bbcom/news/article_display.jsp?vnu_content_id=1003840065|title=Wilco Eyeing Spring 09 for New Album|publisher="Billboard"|date=2008-08-18|accessdate=2008-09-09]
Musical style and influence
Wilco's music is typically categorized as
alternative rockand alternative country. Despite their career long association with a major record label, they are generally associated with indie rock. [Ankeny, Jason & Johnson, Zac. [http://wc03.allmusic.com/cg/amg.dll?p=amg&sql=11:jxfqxqqgld6e Wilco > Overview] . Allmusic. Last accessed August 28, 2007.] Wilco draws influence from bands from a variety of musical genres, but primarily from music created between 1966 and 1974. [cite web|last=Crock|first=Jason|url=http://www.pitchforkmedia.com/article/feature/42415-interview-wilco|title=Interview:Wilco|publisher=Pitchfork Media|date=May 7, 2007 Last accessed July 23, 2007.] [cite web|last=Kot|first=Greg|url=http://www.popmatters.com/pm/features/article/39168/back-to-basics-an-interview-with-wilco|title=Back to Basics: An Interview with Wilco|publisher= PopMatters|date=May 14, 2007 Last accessed July 23, 2007.] John Cale's "Paris 1919" was credited by the band as providing a musical parallel. According to Tweedy, "It was eye-opening that I wasn't the only person that felt like these worlds had a lot more in common than they'd been given credit for—that experimentation and avant-garde theory was not directly opposed to beauty, y'know?" [cite news|last=Mulvey|first=John|title=Pet Sounds|publisher="Uncut"|date=May 2002]
Other recording artists from that timespan appreciated by the band include
John Lennon, Neil Young, and Brian Wilson. [cite web|last=Cashmere|first=Paul|url=http://www.undercover.com.au/idol/wilco2004.html|title=Wilco (interview)|publisher=undercover.com.au Last accessed July 23, 2007.] [cite news|last=Green|first=Joshua|url=http://www.salon.com/ent/music/int/1999/03/17int.html|title=Been There|publisher="Salon"|date=March 17, 1999 Last accessed July 23, 2007.] For his thirty-fourth birthday, Tweedy received a private guitar lesson from Richard Lloyd of Television; Tweedy was a big fan of the group and was particularly fond of the guitar work, which he wanted to incorporate into his music. Uncle Tupelo was inspired by bands such as Jason & the Scorchersand The Minutemen, influencing the recording of Wilco's "A.M.". [Kot 2004, p. 24–26] Tweedy and O'Rourke enjoyed free jazzartists such as Ornette Coleman, Albert Ayler, and Derek Bailey; they also listen to mainstream jazz by artists such as Miles Davisand John Coltrane. [cite news|last=Kot|first=Greg|title=Pillar of Alt|publisher=" Guitar WorldAcoustic"|date=September 2004] cite news|last=Valania|first=Jonathan|title=Heroes and Villains|publisher="Magnet"|date=June 2002] The lyrical structure of Wilco's songs were dictated by classic literature and "cadavre exquis"—an exercise where band members take turns writing lines on a typewriter, but are only allowed to see the previously written line. Among the books that the band has cited as being stylistically influential include William H. Gass's " In the Heart of the Heart of the Country", Henry Miller's "Tropic of Cancer", and Harold Bloom's "". [Kot 2004. p. 136]
Some critics have dubbed Wilco the "American
Radiohead", due to their stylistically diverse catalog. [cite news|last=Hoard|first=Christian|url=http://www.villagevoice.com/music/0217,hoard,34151,22.html|title=Doo Doo Doo (Heartbreaker)|publisher="The Village Voice"|date=April 24, 2002 Last accessed July 18, 2007.] [cite news|last=Metevier|first=Michael|url=http://www.popmatters.com/pm/music/reviews/33236/wilco-sky-blue-sky/|title=Sky Blue Sky (review)|publisher=PopMatters|date=May 14, 2007 Last accessed July 18, 2007.] [cite news|last=Keefe|first=Jonathan|url=http://www.slantmagazine.com/music/music_review.asp?ID=1123|title=Sky Blue Sky (review)|publisher="Slant"|date=May 13, 2007 Last accessed July 18, 2007.] A critic from the "New York Times" argues that Wilco has a "roots-rock... [sound which] reached back to proven materials: the twang of country, the steady chug of 1960s rock, the undulating sheen of the Beach Boys, the honky-tonkhymns of the Bandand the melodic symmetries of pop." [cite news |first=Jon |last=Pareles |authorlink=Jon Pareles |title=Running the Roots-Rock Sound Through a Shape-Shifting Machine |url=http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9D03E2DC1730F933A25755C0A9629C8B63 |work= The New York Times|publisher= The New York Times Company|date=2004-06-10 Last accessed February 28, 2008.]
"Rolling Stone" described Wilco as "one of America's most consistently interesting bands" and "America's foremost rock impressionists." [cite news|last=Pareles|first=Jon|authorlink=Jon Pareles|url=http://www.rollingstone.com/artists/wilco/albums/album/6187605/review/6194215/a_ghost_is_born|title=A Ghost Is Born (review)|publisher="Rolling Stone"|date=July 8, 2004 Last accessed July 18, 2007.] [cite news|last=Hoard|first=Christian|url=http://www.rollingstone.com/artists/wilco/albums/album/8683989/review/8855801/kicking_television_live_in_chicago|title=Kicking Television: Live in Chicago (review)|publisher="Rolling Stone"|date=November 21, 2005 Last accessed July 18, 2007.] Despite critical acclaim, Wilco's influence on modern rock has been limited.cite news|last=Gottlieb|first=Jed|url=http://theedge.bostonherald.com/musicNews/view.bg?articleid=1007464|title=National Anthems Eschew Catchy for Wilco-like Sound|publisher="
Boston Herald"|date=June 21, 2007 Last accessed July 18, 2007.] Bands that have been influenced by Wilco include Derek Webb(of Caedmon's Call), [cite news|last=Snyder|first=Jillian|url=http://www.marshillonline.com/an-interview-with-derek-webb|title=An Interview with Derek Webb|publisher=" Mars' Hill" Last accessed July 17, 2007.] The National, and Grace Potter and the Nocturnals. [cite news|last=Bruss|first=Andrew|url=http://www.glidemagazine.com/Articles/47840/Grace-Potter-and-the-Nocturnals:--Bring-It-On-Home.html|title=Grace Potter and the Nocturnals: Bring It on Home|publisher="Glide"|date=September 1, 2006 Last accessed July 18, 2007.] English indie rock band Cherry Ghosttook its name from a lyric from the Wilco song "Theologians" (from "A Ghost Is Born")—lead singer Simon Aldred is a self-proclaimed "massive Wilco fan". [cite news|last=Swift|first=Jacqui|url=http://www.thesun.co.uk/article/0,,2006140003-2007310077,00.html|title=Something for the Weekend: Cherry Ghost's Ripe for Picking|publisher="The Sun"|date=July 6, 2007 Last accessed July 17, 2007.] Pete Yorn's song "Crystal Village" was influenced by Wilco's "She's A Jar." On his 2004 album Live From New Jersey he introduces the song by saying, "Someone accused me of ripping off Cat Stevens. And I was like, 'That's bullshit, man. I would never rip off Cat Stevens.' I ripped off Wilco on that song."
* "A.M." (March 28, 1995)
* "Being There" (October 29, 1996)
Summerteeth" (March 9, 1999)
Yankee Hotel Foxtrot" (April 23, 2002)
A Ghost Is Born" (June 22, 2004)
* "" (November 15, 2005)
Sky Blue Sky" (May 15, 2007)
Band member timeline
ImageSize = width:600 height:auto barincrement:25PlotArea = left:100 bottom:60 top:0 right:50Alignbars = justifyDateFormat = yyyyPeriod = from:1994 till:2007TimeAxis = orientation:horizontal format:yyyy
Colors = id:official value:claret
ScaleMajor = increment:1 start:1994
width:20 textcolor:black align:left anchor:from shift:(10,-4)
bar:Jeff Tweedy text:"lead singer and guitarist" from:1994 till:end color:official bar:John Stirratt text:"bassist" from:1994 till:end color:official bar:Nels Cline text:"guitarist" from:2004 till:end color:official bar:Glenn Kotche text:"percussion" from:2000 till:end color:official bar:Pat Sansone text:"multi-instrumentalist" from:2004 till:end color:official bar:Mikael Jorgensen text:"pianist" from:2002 till:end color:official bar:Ken Coomer text:"percussion" from:1994 till:2000 color:official bar:Max Johnston text:"multi-instrumentalist" from:1994 till:1996 color:official bar:Brian Henneman text:"guitar" from:1994 till:1995 color:official bar:Bob Egan text:"multi-instrumentalist" from:1995 till:1998 color:official bar:Jay Bennett text:"multi-instrumentalist" from:1995 till:2001 color:official bar:Leroy Bach text:"multi-instrumentalist" from:2000 till:2004 color:official bar:Jim O'Rourke text:"producer/multi-instrumentalist (studio only)" from:2001 till:end color:producer bar:Tony Margherita text:"Manager" from:1994 till:end color:producer
Awards and nominations
* [http://www.wilcoworld.net/ Official website]
* [http://wilco.shop.musictoday.com/ Official Store]
* [http://www.rollingstone.com/artists/wilco Wilco] at
* [http://wilcobase.com Wilco interactive setlist database]
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Look at other dictionaries:
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