Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Music Decade List #3: Wilco - Yankee Hotel Foxtrot (2002)

For all the publicity surrounding the turmoil in releasing it, Yankee Hotel Foxtrot's execution pretty much lives up to all the hype. Throwing away just about any semblance of their alt-country beginnings, Wilco move in a direction dealing heavily with sonic experimentation, creating sprawling, dense songs that have no basis in any genre. 'I Am Trying to Break Your Heart' and 'Ashes of American Flags' are bleak songs only helped by a background of ominous ambient noise. 'Kamera' and 'Heavy Metal Drummer' are more propulsive, straight ahead rockers but there are little flourishes in each, notably the end of the latter, that still keep it from being something expected out of the group. The input of Jay Bennett seems to be a point of issue, as Sam Jones' film I Am Trying to Break Your Heart: A Film About Wilco documents. There's no doubt Bennett played a role along with Jim O'Rourke in creating the new sonic textures of the album. It also appears true that the new direction ultimately led him out the door in an acrimonious break up. It doesn't diminish the fact that at the time, Wilco was one of the few established bands willing to try an entirely new direction and be able to pull it off and make them even more popular in the process.

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