WILCO: Born Alone

TIME: In 2002, Wilco was a reasonably successful and well-known alt-country band—formed by frontman Jeff Tweedy after the dissolution of his previous group, Uncle Tupelo—that had put out three solid albums. But then it released Yankee Hotel Foxtrot,  a genre-hopping gem of musical perfection that is inarguably one of the best albums of the past decade. After one listen of “I’m the Man Who Loves You,” people who didn’t normally like alt-country found themselves wondering if maybe they liked alt-country. College kids liked it. People in their 30s and 40s—people with kids, people who’d stopped caring about new music and who found most concerts too loud—liked it. My then 50-year-old mother borrowed my CD and refused to give it back, forcing me to buy another one. Wilco was big. But the band’s subsequent albums have all come up short. Oh, they’re pretty good; they always have two or three tunes that display Tweedy’s immense songwriting talent— “Hate it Here” off 2007’s Sky Blue Sky and the experimental “Bull Black Nova” from  2009’s Wilco (The Album) come to mind—and one of them earned the band a Grammy (that would be 2004’s A Ghost Is Born) but as a whole, their music has been a little flat. Wilco is like an athlete who wowed everyone with one incredible season but just can’t seem to make the magic happen again. MORE

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