Yankee Hotel Foxtrot

  • Nonesuch

Yankee Hotel Foxtrot was originally slated to be issued in 2001, but the band's label, Reprise, was reportedly less than enthusiastic about its contents. When they asked for changes, Wilco balked, and the label released the band from its contract. Wilco then made the album available to its fans by audio streaming it for free through the group's website.

In the middle of all that, one of the group's key members, multi-instrumentalist Jay Bennett quit the band.

To their everlasting credit, Wilco persevered, and with a new label and a couple of new members joining mainstays Jeff Tweedy and John Stirratt, they've at long last finally released the album that caused all the controversy.

While a bit more avant-garde than previous Wilco albums, it's not like Yankee Hotel Foxtrot is unrecognizable. It's sad and poignant, lazy sounding at times, and punctuated by the occasional clatter of short wave radio sounds. When Tweedy and company get lost in the minimalist musings of “Radio Cure,” one can almost—emphasize almost—see what Reprise was so worried about.

But those bits of indulgence are far outweighed by the thoughtfulness of what's heard elsewhere, like on the sweet pop touches of “War on War,” the subtle, violin-traced splendor of “Jesus, Etc.,” or the Buffalo Springfield-styled psych-out of “I'm The Man Who Loves You.”

It's been a long road to get here, but Wilco stuck to their guns. Good for them. Artistic expression is worth taking a stand for and they stood firm for Yankee Hotel Foxtrot It was worth the wait.

Kevin O'Hare

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