Wilco – Yankee Hotel Foxtrot

Wilco – Yankee Hotel Foxtrot

5/5

2002

Some great albums come along unassumingly, while others have a mythology all their own. Wilco’s fourth album Yankee Hotel Foxtrot falls into the latter category. Amongst other things, during the tumultuous recording sessions, tensions grew between primary songwriters Jay Bennett and Jeff Tweedy, culminating in Bennett’s departure from the band. Even more, the album was considered too uncommercial and, therefore, unfit for release by Reprise Records, causing the band to buy out their master tapes from the label for $50,000. Yet, amongst all this turmoil was the music itself, co-produced by Jim O’Rourke, simultaneously challenging and accessible, still using rootsy alt-country and folk as a starting point. Wilco’s previous album, Summerteeth, suggested the band wanted to branch out, and YHT more than lives up to that promise. It is an inviting rock record, one that uses experimental flourishes to rope the listener in by accentuating the emotion in each track. Because of this, it’s hard to see why the album was seen as self-conscious commercial suicide by Wilco’s old label, especially since there are such clear singles like the wide-eyed pop of “Heavy Metal Drummer,” the warm, melancholy “Jesus, Etc.,” and the twangy “I Am The Man Who Loves You.” But many of YHT‘s best moments come from when Wilco take greater risks. Opener “I Am Trying To Break Your Heart” is a remarkable seven minutes of free-associative relationship woes set to atonal found sounds, clattering drum lines, and pretty piano breaks; the resigned “Poor Places” ends with roaring feedback and an audio tape loop, only intensifying the tension. Yankee Hotel Foxtrot didn’t exactly set a distinct trend like other landmark ’00s records—no one asked for a country-folk OK Computerbut it remains one of the most rewarding and distinguished albums of the era.

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Posted on March 14, 2011, in Wilco. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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