Collection: 4. Wilco - Yankee Hotel Foxtrot

Jeff Tweedy had allegedly been boning up on World War II while he wrote many of the songs that would become Yankee Hotel Foxtrot, an all too fitting lead-up to Wilco’s well-documented battles with the record industry as well as within the band itself. Touring behind an album still weeks away from official release, Tweedy would often pause to ask how many people in the crowd had downloaded the new Wilco record, and if the substantial show of hands wasn’t answer enough, the folks singing along to every word only amplified the extent to which the disc had made the rounds. More importantly, it was making new fans, too, as burned copies of YHF were passed around like totems with the band’s tacit blessing. But the historic, narrative-defining leak of Yankee Hotel Foxtrot was only part of the story. The real story was the resonance of elliptical songs like “I Am Trying to Break Your Heart”, “Ashes of American Flags”, and “Jesus, Etc.”, which often reduced crowds to hushed silence once 9/11 attached a real world frame to Tweedy’s cryptic lyrics. Given the general hoopla surrounding the supposedly “experimental” turn the former alt-country standard bearers were taking, the album itself is a relatively austere work, the subtle sonic tweaks (courtesy of Tweedy’s late collaborator Jay Bennett, with an assist from Jim O’Rourke) complementary rather than distracting, adding an extra layer of enticing mystery to the band’s most unlikely breakthrough. –Joshua Klein / Pitchfork.com
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  • WILCO - YANKEE HOTEL FOXTROT (2LP) VINYL
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