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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
Wilco is a contemporary rock band, predominantly known for its country music roots. It is one of the current leaders of alternative country.

Band History

Primary songwriter / singer Jeff Tweedy was a member of the seminal 1980s group Uncle Tupelo. Tweedy split from UT and band mate Jay Farrar, taking most of Wilco (bassist John Stirratt, drummer Ken Coomer and string player Max Johnston) with him.

Wilco has steadily gained popularity since its first release A.M. in 1995, the only album to fully carry over the Tupelo sound. A.M. reached #27 on the Billboard heatseeker chart. Multi-instrumentalist Jay Bennett joined the band, expanding their already rich sound, adding more electronic/keyboard music, as well as the strength of a second guitar. They released the double album 'Being There', which won glowing reviews and a devoted group of fans, but average sales reaching #73 on the Billboard album charts. The track "Outtasite (Out Of Mind)" reached the mainstream and modern rock top 40 in 1997.

In 1999, the band released Summerteeth, showing a band evolving from country to electric rockers. Songs like "Can't Stand It" and "I'm Always In Love" demonstrated a buzzing shift in their sound, and the album was their most popular to date. It reached #78 on the Billboard album charts.

They returned to their country roots working with English songwriter Billy Bragg for two Mermaid Avenue albums, which paired their 20th century music with lyrics by the American folk icon Woody Guthrie.

The band's next release, Yankee Hotel Foxtrot is considered by many in the music industry to be one of 2002's best albums, as well as a standout in terms of innovation. What started as an album continuing down the musical and sonic path set by 'Summerteeth' morphed into a monster that would attract plenty of adulation and trouble.

Glenn Kotche replaced Coomer on drums (Coomer would later play with the band Swag), and brought a more musical and harder hitting style of playing to the songs. Multi instrumentalist Leroy Bach also joined so the band could better duplicate their complex arrangements live and in the studio.

The production seemed to go well, though serious rifts formed between Bennett and his bandmates; before the album was completed Bennett eventually left (or was fired from) the band. In addition, Reprise Records, the band's label and a Warner subsidiary, rejected the album, sparking a long search to find a new home for the band. The band bought the studio tapes for $50,000 and began streaming the album from their website. Complaints abounded over the bizarre, noise driven elements of many YHF tracks, although the song 'Heavy Metal Drummer' became a radio staple (at least around Chicago). Nonesuch Records, another Warner subsidiary, released YHF in 2001. Bennett started a project with longtime collaborator Edward Burch and released 'The Palace at 4 A.M.' on the same day YHF came out, which ironically reached #12 on the Billboard album charts, Wilco's highest chart position to that date, as well as charting in Australia.

Filmmaker Sam Jones caught it all on tape and released the documentary I Am Trying To Break Your Heart, a B&W film with 2 DVDs. One already classic scene involves an acidic argument between Tweedy and Bennett over a crossfaded mix of the songs "Ashes of American flags" and "Heavy Metal Drummer", ending in Tweedy's running to the toilet to vomit (on account of chronic migraines he has had since youth). (For the record, the final mix did not crossfade the two tracks.) One disc has the movie with extra footage and commentary, and the other has clips of live performances.

In 2004 Bach left the band, leaving Wilco a sextet, now featuring acclaimed jazz guitarist, Nels Cline, as well as member of Stirratt's side project The Autumn Defense, Pat Sansone. The newest album, A Ghost is Born was released on June 22, a date that was pushed back after Tweedy entered a rehabilitation facility for his addiction to his migraine painkillers, an event that also caused them to pull out of their headline slot at that year's Coachella Music and Arts Festival in Indio, CA. Jay Bennett plans on releasing three albums this year. Hailed by critics who frequently cited Neil Young's influence, A Ghost Is Born was Wilco's first album to make the top ten of the US album charts in 2004, opening at #8, and also reached the top 50 of the Australian charts.

Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Wilco" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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