Posts Tagged ‘Alt-Country’


Wilco – Sky Blue Sky

Thursday, May 7, 2009
Sky Blue Sky (2007)

Sky Blue Sky (2007)

Like a wide blue sky, Wilco’s Sky Blue Sky is relaxing and spacious. Also like a blue sky, when stared at too long, it gets to be a little boring.

Though long, Sky Blue Sky has some great tracks – especially impressive are the lead guitarirst’s almost progressive solos on the likes of “Impossible Germany” and “Side With the Seeds.”

Yankee Hotel Foxtrot and Summerteeth, however, are definitely better. A Ghost is Born also seems better, but that doesn’t mean Sky Blue Sky is bad, it’s just not as good as those other two albums. While Summerteeth is an alt-country pop marvel, Yankee Hotel Foxtrot is a perfect blending of alt-country and sonic experimentation, and A Ghost is Born really ups the ante on experimentation, Sky Blue Sky returns to the pop format which makes Wilco so great in the first place. Though they are good at experimenting, they are even better at not going overboard and keeping the songs catchy.

But Sky Blue Sky has the misfortune of being front-loaded, and being long, it makes the whole album difficult to listen though in one sitting. After “Hate it Here,” it goes slowly downhill. The songs are still good, but it just seems gets old quickly. Maybe if I listened to each song individually, then I wouldn’t be so hard on the second side of the album.

Nevertheless, Wilco have done a good job with his album. I didn’t really get into them until about two years ago, and I guess when compared to other choice albums, I sometimes have to force myself to listen to this, hoping that someday, it will speak to me in the way other albums have. 

I get to see them in concert June 16, which will be fun!


Wilco – Summerteeth

Sunday, January 11, 2009
Summerteeth (1999)

Summerteeth (1999)

Forgive me for talking about Wilco again. Actually, no. Don’t forgive me. They deserve it.

I know, it was merely last week that I gave you glowing accolades that put a New Year’s firework show to shame. But I’ve found a new love, Summerteeth.

I went to the BCS national championship a few days ago (I just got back, in fact). What a depressing game. 

The car ride there and back was almost as depressing, at about eighteen hours one-way. Around hour nine or so, I felt the cabin fever begin to grip me. Who would placate me in my time of turmoil?

I picked up my iPod and turned it to Wilco. Trusty old Wilco, the band I always mean to listen to, but never do. They had me as a captive audience now, as it was in that prison of a car where I heard the first strains of Summerteeth just a few days ago.

It was love at first sound. The song that really stuck out to me was “She’s a Jar.” It’s a very smooth jam. It’s just so catchy and perfectly crafted. I love the harmonica, the unexpected chord changes, the strings. It all just works to perfectly together.

And of course, there’s “A Shot in the Arm,” one of Wilco’s more popular tunes.

Other highlights for me include “ELT,” “How to Fight Loneliness,” and “My Darling.”

Wilco is one of the greatest relatively new American bands recording and touring today. How I’d love to see them live…


Wilco – Yankee Hotel Foxtrot

Friday, January 2, 2009
Yankee Hotel Foxtrot (2002)

Yankee Hotel Foxtrot (2002)

I have to be honest here – it took me a long time to come around to loving this album. I stole it from the Iowa City Library. By stole, I mean checked it out and ripped in onto my computer. Where it stayed for six odd months, collecting cyberdust.

I stole a lot of music from that beloved library, which acted more as a video or music store than a place to enlighten one’s mind with books. Seriously, everyone who went there was either checking out music or a movie. But I digress. Yankee Hotel Foxtrot.

I don’t really know what the title means, but the album cover is pretty cool, half the reason I had to “steal” it. I assume it’s a photo of the said hotel. But the lyrics and music are catchy, dark, and like nothing I have ever heard before. Mind, I got this album a year or so ago. Since then, I’ve collected the rest of Wilco’s discography, which, oddly enough, is collecting cyberdust as I write this. Poor Wilco! You deserve better.

They really do, because they are amazing. I now love Yankee Hotel Foxtrot. Yankee Hotel Foxtrot is like the girlfriend you don’t really like at first but after a while you stick with her because you know you can’t do any better. That’s a terrible analogy. Rather, Yankee Hotel Foxtrot is like going out on a date three times with the same girl and not being too impressed because she seems a little dark and strange. But on the fourth time, you’re eyes are magically opened to her rare kind of beauty that is all but conventional – and you keep coming back  to discover more and more niches and crannies of her thick and intricate soul.

Enough of my terrible analogies. Songs I love: “Jesus Etc.,” “Ashes of American Flags,” “I Am Trying to Break Your Heart,” and “Radio Cure.” All are truly heartfelt – in true country fashion these songs pull at your heartstrings with every line and chord change. Warm, yet dark. I know Wilco aren’t really “country,” but like good country, they pull off the heart-tugging effect masterfully.

I’ve heard Wilco called “America’s response to Radiohead.” Well…I’m not too sure about that. I don’t see it, except maybe both use electronica in their respective genres. So do a whole lot of other bands. Go figure.

In a similar vein, I’ve heard the electronica often turns people off of Wilco, and in particular, Yankee Hotel Foxtrot

Well, those people are stupid. This album is not.