Artists of the week: Wilco
Born from the ashes of Uncle Tupelo (due to the departure of singer Jay Ferrar), Wilco has, in the last two decades, been able to not only deepen the alternative country explorations of their former incarnation as to incorporate many eras and genres in their music, becoming one of the most praised and popular acts of the North American indie rock scene. If the first decade of their existence was defined by frequent line-up changes (Jeff Tweedy and bassist John Stirratt excepted) and acclaimed experimental records (such as their absolute masterpiece Yankee Foxtrot Hotel), the second decade saw an unchanged line-up (with guitarist extraordinaire Nels Cline, multi-instrumentalist Pat Sansone, keyboard player Mikael Jorgensen and drummer Glenn Kotche) explore a more light, mature and straightforward Americana sound epitomized by growers such as Sky Blue Sky and The Whole Love.
After a four year hiatus only partially broken by the release of Jeff Tweedy and his son Spencer debut double LP, Wilco surprised the world two weeks ago with the unannounced release of Star Wars, their ninth studio album. This short affair (just over 30 minutes) is also a surprise when it comes to its musical content: an adventurous and unscripted collection of songs that aims to explore the talent and possibilities of a band that has been trapped in its comfort zone for too many years. They sound fresh, focused and joyful. And it’s truly great to have them back.
João Pedro da Costa is a web studies scholar and a music fan.