11 songs about America that echo and update some of the themes heard on early albums by The Band, Bob Dylan, and Neil Young. Enhanced format features exclusive live footage, band photos, and a trailer for the film 'I Am... more » Trying to Break Your Heart'. Slipcase. 2002.« less
11 songs about America that echo and update some of the themes heard on early albums by The Band, Bob Dylan, and Neil Young. Enhanced format features exclusive live footage, band photos, and a trailer for the film 'I Am Trying to Break Your Heart'. Slipcase. 2002.
Theodore C. from MESA, AZ Reviewed on 2/21/2010...
Probably the best that Jeff & band-mates have done; in all regards. As is usual, great song crafting, from quirky ballads to distort rockers and with excellent sonic qualities. Recommended!
2 of 2 member(s) found this review helpful.
Not your older brother's Wilco...
Carlos R. Pastrana | Taneytown | 04/29/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Once every couple of years, an album comes along that almost-automatically merits consideration as a "Classic" in its genre... I offer you Radiohead's "OK Computer", Lauryn Hill's "Miseducation of...", and (on the ever-growing World stage) Natacha Atlas' Transglobal Underground-fueled "Ayeshteni" as evidence for this trend. 2002's "Yankee Hotel Foxtrot", by Wilco, is the latest album to merit inclusion in the "instant landmark" category. Jeff Tweedy's band has made a record so jaw-droppingly complete, eclectic and satisfying that it would make both Harry Smith and Brian Eno proud. Though often described as a "Hillbilly OK Computer", YHF goes farther, muuuuch farther beyond mere pigeonhole-ization. This is a record of a uniquely sobered sensibility... the studious innocence of Uncle Tupelo's early recordings and "Being There's" sense of wide-eyed optimism are both gone. In their stead, we find a narrator than can, alternately, drink you under the table ("I Am Trying to Break Your Heart"), celebrate Rock 'N Roll without sounding trite ("Heavy Metal Drummer"), and be patriotic without being obtuse or jingoistic ("Ashes of American Flags"). One has to feel somewhat sorry for Jay Farrar... on the same year he releases a sensational solo effort ("Sebastopol"), and in which Uncle Tupelo's greatest-hits compilation comes out, Tweedy outdoes him, again, though this time more severely than ever before.As for several pundits' charge that this record tries hard to be pretentious and "artsy", I will, actually, heartily agree with whoever states that claim... Nevertheless, I strain to remember any album consistently placed in most critics' "Best of All Time" shortlist, which did not initially strive to be "important": "Sgt. Pepper's", "Pet Sounds", "Highway 61", "Born to Run", "Nevermind", etc. ALL were clearly about their respective creators' attempts at critical respectability and, ultimately, historical weight. Tweedy can hardly be faulted for doing the same, particularly in an era of such fluffy, unimportant sonic trifle, courtesy of a conference room-ful of three-piece Swedish suits who write music for thirty-plus men posing as "boy" bands, and for bleached blondes with no vocal talent other than aping faux-R & B mellismas.Wouldn't you just HATE to be that poor sap from Wilco's former record company who told Tweedy and co. to take a walk... with this master-piece in tow?!?!?!"
Wilco's Continuing Migration
Carlos R. Pastrana | 04/24/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Four records in and we find wilco further yet from their freshman effort, A.M. First off, at this point in their career to call Wilco alt-country is akin to calling Donna Summers heavy metal. Yankee Hotel Foxtrot takes the listener on an existentialist trip, with the band creating a loose sonic meditiation on distance and love, using random radio signals as a metaphor. This isn't to say that it isn't fun as well - afterall, anyone who's ever seen Wilco live knows that they are spry and playful onstage - and they can rock out with the best of them. With songs like Kamera, War on War, Heavy Metal Drummer (a beautiful ode to youth, innocence and Ray Davies), I'm the man Who Loves You, and Pot Kettle Black, Tweedy and Co. provide enough radio-friendly pop to make you scratch your head at the Reprise execs who said this record was a "career-ender". The world would be a better place if War On War and I'm the Man Who Loves You were booming out of car stereos this summer. That said, this album is chock full of darkness and weirdness as well. Kicking off with "I am Trying to Break your Heart" lyricist Jeff Tweedy takes a haiku-like approach to describing drunken lovesickness. Yeah. And Radio Cure reminds me of noneother than Radiohead, its glum, moody, intriguing and ultimately cathartic. Jesus, Etc. has a great rolling feel accented by a slippery fiddle line and strings that hum out of nowhere and nearly assure that this will lodge in your ears and remain there for a very long time. Ashes of American Flags might make you shiver, its a cold poem on the state of affairs out here in the west. Reservations ends the album eloquenly, gorgeously, and ultimately grounds an album that is dissecting untruths, misundersatandings and miscommunication with one important truth. You have to get there through the album to truly appreciate it. What links the songs is a sonic pallette full of blips, radio pops stops and starts, guitars, horns strings, all forms of odd sounds and fillers pushed through filters, a rhythmic complexity never achieved on a Wilco record, and the poetry, which is VERY non-linear and disassociative, but, taken as a whole, beautiful and imbued with a codified consistency. Its an experience. Its a band that is changing, both in personnel and sound. Its an experience. Its a leap of faith. Take it with them."
An album in the truest sense of the word.
Sam Machkovech | Texas. | 04/25/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"In talking to fellow Wilco fans, I've noticed something that I don't often see in fans of other bands - an excitement about change. And let's face it - Wilco's sound has definitely benefitted from a lack of permanent grounding, and YHF takes the biggest steps from the often-repeated stories of Uncle Tupelo this and alt-country that and all the other hogwash.So we can talk about labels and history and the like, but I'll leave that to the music critics. The history only matters if you're already a Wilco fan, and if you're like most Wilco fans, the change from the past isn't even that big a deal. The question is, what merit does this record have on its own?YHF is an album for our times - the human spirit confronted with the modern world is one way you can look at both the songwriting themes and the sounds employed in this album. Put headphones on to hear the organic, typical instruments doing battle with the swirling noise and layered arrangements; this added "noise" is not an afterthought, but a carefully mastered part of the album's whole sound. The feeling you get listening to the way sound is arranged should be a clear indication that there is something deeper going on here, whether or not you're a fan of the noisiness that Jim O'Rourke brings to the table (and even though I usually don't care for this style, I am instinctively drawn to, and pleased by, its execution in YHF).On top of this is Jeff Tweedy's touching songwriting. This is an album to read along to (or sing if you're luckier than I am), so keep the liner notes handy. Tweedy sings songs about the same love, unpredictable and wonderful and painful, in a strange world that is either always changing or always the same. Honestly, I don't know and I'm not going to try any harder than that to say what Tweedy says so much better with lyrics like, "tall buildings shake, / voices escape, singing sad sad songs / tuned to chords strung down your cheeks, / & bitter melodies, turning your orbit around." As he sings this in Jesus, Etc, Tweedy continues to talk about the night sky, and at the same time violins sweep through the air in a jagged, computer-challenged way that feels like the night sky is falling apart.That's just one of thousands of intangible beauties that this album has, combining music and sound and word and thought (pardon if I sound like a hippie) into a truly special album, one that is reborn upon each listen. I have had this album for months thanks to the Internet, but nothing could have prepared me for my first CD listen, w/ liner notes, on headphones. It was an experience I'll never forget. Buy this album."
The Best of 2001...or 2002...or whatever
Brendan | Chicago | 07/22/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Eerie and heartbreaking, Wilco's latest effort somehow manages to blow 1999's "Summer Teeth," perhaps the best release of the late 90's, out of the water. How? Here's three reasons.1. The band has been tweaked just enough to find the right mix. Though a fine drummer, Ken Coomer was more akin to a busy drummer like Keith Moon. But just as Moon wouldn't have worked on Velvet Underground records, Coomer's sound just wasn't right. Enter Glenn Kotche, a Moe Tucker with crash cymbals, whose sound adds a decidedly different flavor to this entire recording that Coomer's did on the previous Wilco records. In addition, Leroy Bach, whose piano work on classics such as "My Darling" and the Woody Guthrie-penned "Remember the Mountain Bed" has been hauntingly gorgeous, is now made a full member of the band, which shows in lovely flourishes on keyboard in "War On War" and spine-tingling piano for the achingly tearful closer "Reservations."2. Jeff Tweedy has learned how to sing. If you're at all a Wilco fan or are educated in their history, you know of an old alt-country band called Uncle Tupelo, which featured Tweedy as lead vocalist. If you've never heard Uncle Tupelo, listen to Wilco's first record, 'A.M.;' it's essentially the same sound. But even as recently as 'Being There,' Tweedy seemed like he was still searching for a voice, still reaching just slightly out of his range and some sort of security as a singer. No longer. If in 'Summer Teeth' he found his range, Tweedy has now found confidence as a singer. The vocals on "I Am Trying to Break Your Heart" and "Ashes of American Flags" prove that a mid-range singer can be just as powerful as an alto (a la Brian & Carl Wilson of the Beach Boys)3. There are as many radio-friendly songs here as devotee album tracks. A few years ago, radio stations maligned Moby's 'Play,' saying it had zero commercial potential. Yet when the songs hit the airwaves after eighteen months of pushing them into TV ads to make some money off them, radio listeners enthusiastically gobbled the record up. So were the programmers right? Obviously not. However, the record company executives at Reprise, Wilco's former label, did essentially the same thing to 'YHF,' saying it sounded like, "a career-ending album." What they were probably frightened by was the strange free-form intro to "I Am Trying To Break Your Heart," even though it's not too much stranger than the intro to 1996's "Miunderstood."
Even through these slower-moving, beautiful tracks, there are several songs just begging to be hits: "Heavy Metal Drummer," "I'm The Man Who Loves You," "Kamera," "War On War," and "Pot Kettle Black" all have radio-airplay potential, as an uneducated listener might mistake the acoustic-laden intro to "Pot Kettle Black" for a (much inferior) Dave Matthews tune...or the synth-drum beats opening "Heavy Metal Drummer" for one of those post-nineties pop tracks...or the ferocious electric guitar beginning "I'm The Man Who Loves You" for...well, you get the point.All-in-all, there is no reason why any listener should not own this record. It may go down in history as one of the greatest of the new millennium. Certainly it will go down as the best record of 2002...or 2001 (when it was released via the band's website)...or whenever."
Robert P. Fraser | Santa Rosa, CA USA | 04/25/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Alt-country... indie-pop... rock... who cares? THIS IS JUST GREAT MUSIC IN ANY GENRE! With so much emphasis on trying to catergorize todays music into groups of what the industry thinks people of different ages and nationalities want to listen to it's sure refreshing to know that there are bands that don't buy into that philosophy. Wilco apparently stuck to their guns in getting "Yankee Hotel Foxtrot" released as originally intended and not succumbing to label pressures to be more accessible. And thank goodness for Wilco fans everywhere!! This is an album to cherish for all time. It is one of those recordings that will bring unlimited pleasure and reveal new aspects with each listen (particularly "I am trying to break your heart" and "Radio cure"). Jeff Tweedy is this generations Brian Wilson with his inate ability to create music with intricate melodies that are at times challenging but always fun to listen to and explore ("Kamera", War on war", "Poor places"). Tunes that will never grow tiresome, tunes that have great soundscapes with pop sensibilities ("Heavy metal drummer", "Pot kettle black"). I believed that Wilco's previous release "Summerteeth" could not be beat, but they have indeed equaled, if not surpassed that awesome C.D. Buy this and believe it for yourself!"