Saturday, June 19, 2004

Wilco: The American Radiohead


Wilco is referred to as "The American Radiohead" in the newly published "Wilco: Learning How To Die" book by Chicago Tribune critic Greg Kot. "There is some truth to the cliché because, like Radiohead, Wilco is a band that keeps changing up the formula every time, " says Kot in an interview in the Toronto Star by Vit Wagner. Tweedy also cites Neil Young as an influence.

Wagner writes:

    "The Rolling Stones might be the greatest, U2 might be the biggest, but there is a case to be made for Wilco as the best rock band in the world today.

    That claim, subjective as it must be, is not without foundation. It is not only based on this critic's abiding fascination with the music that guiding light Jeff Tweedy and his Chicago-based band has made since emerging from the ashes of alt/country pioneers Uncle Tupelo a decade ago.

    For one thing, while Wilco has never been hugely successful commercially, Tweedy's cultural reach has been broad. No Depression, the first album that Tweedy and then musical compatriot Jay Farrar made as Uncle Tupelo, was instrumental in kick-starting a new era of roots/rock experimentation. No Depression, which took its title from a cover of a dustbowl-era Carter Family tune, became the banner for an entire genre, eventually spawning an influential magazine by the same name."

My favourite bands have all done that," said Tweedy during a recent phone interview. "The Beatles evolved rapidly. Neil Young is always changing. And David Bowie — although with him it's always felt more like somebody putting on costumes. I think he would probably admit that that's part of his personas.

"Dylan has somehow managed to make dozens of different kinds of records despite some serious limitations. He's unlimited lyrically, but vocal-wise and all that.... That's the stuff I love: people exploring with what they have to work with.

"What you make is, in a lot of ways, a reflection of who you are, what you've listened to and what you've experienced. And what I've experienced in life is a lot of thrilling moments that involved being surprised by music, falling in love with something because it wasn't what I expected. That's how art changes people's perceptions."

Thanks for the link from Frank over on .:chromewaves.

More on the new Wilco book.


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