Thread: Wilco: Sky Blue Sky

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  1. #1 Wilco: Sky Blue Sky 
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    If you are looking for a Yankee Hotel Foxtrot trilogy, you are looking at the wrong Wilco album. Wilco returns to country-roots with its latest record, Sky Blue Sky. The album, to be released on May 15 in stores near you, simply exudes a calmer and mellower Tweedy, the singer and songwriter. After Tweedy’s rehabilitation from prescription medication, it seems his dark and complex mind has dissipated, leaving a more happy and carefree person. I’ll provide a more complete analysis of their first three tracks on Sky Blue Sky.



    Either Way starts off the album giving you a sense of happiness as a repeating riff of arpeggios along your left ear. “Maybe the sun with shine today” brings and another guitar placing simple notes along the right ear. Either Way abandons the complexities and darkness within their last album, A Ghost is Born, and acts as a microcosm for the whole album. At around the 2 minute mark Nels Cline, the new avant-garde guitarist to join Wilco, displays his knowledge of the guitar with a beautiful lick. Tweedy belts out “Maybe the sun will shine today/the clouds will roll away/Maybe I won't be so afraid” as the crescendo of the track. Perhaps he means to tell his fans that he shirks his old addiction, leaving a better future with less headaches, which caused the 12 feedback landscape in “Less Than you Think” on AGIB.

    “You Are My Face” begins forgettable; at the start a soft guitar melody strums your ears with a soft, sweet Tweedy singing “I trust no emotion/I believe in locomotion”. It seems almost forced, but YAMF turns into a rock song and Tweedy belts out “I have no idea how this happens/all my maps have been overthrown”. He yells out in desperation “my heart has been outgrown” while the piano dances around your ears. This beautifully catchy phrase regresses back to the very forgettable tune and ends after some more sweet singing by Tweedy. Ultimately this song would be forgettable if not the insanely catchy middle section.

    Impossible Germany begins with a guitar melody with arpeggios in the background of the left ear, and transgresses into bass, melody, drums and Tweedy singing “Impossible Germany/Unlikely Japan/wherever you go/wherever you land”. The simple drums offer an incredible regression from the very complex toys from YHF and AGIB, but offer a more mellow feel. The song concludes with a very intelligent solo from Cline. His guitar work is amazing, and is a great addition to the band. He then duets with another guitarist, providing the guitar work that he added to the older tracks in Wilco’s live CD. This song shows how Wilco can sound very simplistic on the surface, but with a more intelligent listening the complexity arrives and astounds. Impossible Germany is perhaps the greatest track on Sky Blue Sky.



    The title track is a slower song with Wilco’s country roots very prevalent. Tweedy exasperates “Oh, if I didn't die I should be satisfied I survived/It's good enough for now” leading into another quick guitar solo. Wilco’s small guitar licks really make this album, as proven in Impossible Germany and “Side with the Seeds”. In Side with the Seeds, Tweedy’s best lyric “No one wins but the thieves/So why side with anything” fades into another guitar duet.

    Unfortunately the next to longest song, “Shake it off”, is ultimately forgettable. Despite some more very neat guitar additions, the drums prove very lacking. Kotche decides to hold off on drums, rather than fill the silent spots, making Shake it Off seem as if it weren’t completely written. Perhaps they should have done some more studio recordings.



    “Shake it Off” fades into “Please Be Patient With Me” is another slower song, and this time without drums. PBPWM has only two guitars having small and silent licks, and the piano comes in at certain moments. Tweedy’s lyrics really shine with “it doesn't mean that I don't care/it means I'm partially there,” but his voice is the winner in PBPWM. The sadness, sweetness, and desperation in Tweedy’s voice mixed with the guitars are almost overwhelming. Along with “Impossible Germany”, “Please Be Patient With Me” (and later “On and On and On”) form the unforgettable songs in Sky Blue Sky.

    “Hate It Here” describes a sad man wishing someone was next to him, but knew that it would never happen. The piano with drums offer a decent background for Tweedy’s lyrics. This fades into “Leave Me”, a song much like “Either Way” but slower and more sentimental. The piano is brilliant, leaving slow chord progressions as Tweedy sweetly sings “That's when I knew you”, and, as with most of the album, there are plenty of subtle guitar licks that are added between Tweedy verses.

    “Walken” brings Wilco to the Being There days, and jabs the ears with a piano line. Tweedy comes in with “I'm walking all by myself/I'm talking to myself/About you” and the bass’s chord progression leave this song very catchy and incredibly enjoyable. subtle guitar additions only add to the carefree song. The song suddenly changes into Nels Solos on the live CD.

    “What Light” fills the ears with a very forgettable tune, but never boring or interesting. “On and On and On” though is the best closing song that Wilco could have picked. Piano and guitar go through chord changes until Tweedy comes in with “on and on and on/we'll stay together yeah”. His voice fills the head, but then breaks your heart when he cries “please don't cry/we're designed to die/don't deny/what's inside” It crescendos and creates the perfect ending to Sky Blue Sky that Tweedy could have wished for. “On and On and On” exudes the feeling of hope and a carefree feeling that Tweedy must have felt after healing himself of his painkiller addiction. Tweedy’s voice crescendos into “this world of words and meanings/makes you feel outside/something that you feel already/deep inside” and then fades into a blissful ending.



    While Sky Blue Sky isn’t the masterpiece of Yankee Hotel Foxtrot or the pure emotional opera that A Ghost is Born was, Sky Blue Sky successfully makes Wilco display its country roots again. Wilco was able to shirk the definition of experimental, but retain its fantastic and emotional guitar solos that YHF was able to produce. The hope that Tweedy feels is prevalent throughout the album, and makes for a much easier album to understand as well as listen to. If you need to relax or mellow out, SBS is perfect for you.

    7/10

    Pros:
    Much easier to listen to than AGIB and YHF
    Very intuitive guitar solos by Nels Cline
    Impossible Germany, On and On and On, Please be Patient With Me

    Cons:
    Not as complex and AGIB and YHF
    Almost too simplistic
    Shake it Off
    Today has been the most beautiful day I've ever seen.
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  2. #2  
    Senior Member I Modded My PSP cmcd14's Avatar
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    YHF was their best, in my mind. shoulda stuck with the experimental rock
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  3. #3  
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    Ya, YHF is most definitely my favorite Wilco album. It was absolutely blows your mind after a couple of listens. Being There would be my second favorite album from Wilco, then probably AGIB, Sky Blue Sky, Summerteeth, and finally A.M.

    I am impressed that Tweedy was able to finally shirk off of that experimental rock, because AGIB definitely wasn't the masterpiece that YHF was. I'm sure if Tweedy tried to create another experimental album, the sound would be old. I'm glad Tweedy was able to take a risk and change their sound completely.
    Today has been the most beautiful day I've ever seen.
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