- Audio CD (22 April 2002)
- Number of Discs: 1
- Format: Enhanced
- Label: Nonesuch
- ASIN: B00005YXZH
- Other Editions: Audio CD | Vinyl | MP3 Download
- Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars See all reviews (33 customer reviews)
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 6,578 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)
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Yankee Hotel Foxtrot Enhanced
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Named in honour of the three-word codes used by short-wave radio operators, Wilco's fourth album Yankee Hotel Foxtrot sounds like a late-night broadcast of some weirdly wonderful pop station punctuated by static and the sonic bleed of competing signals. Songs that begin with simple, elegiac grace--"Ashes of American Flags" and "Poor Places"--end in a cathartic squall of distortion. The results can be initially jarring, but it's these tracks more than the sturdy jangle pop of "Kamera" or "Heavy Metal Drummer" that demand, and reward, repeated listens.
Mixed by studio experimentalist Jim O'Rourke and produced by the band, Yankee Hotel Foxtrot harkens back to a time when the words "pop" and "sonic adventurism" weren't mutually exclusive. The Beatles and Kurt Cobain knew this, and clearly so do Jeff Tweedy and company. --Keith Moerer
As with any of the bands lumped by lazy journalists into the vague bracket of 'Alt Country' Wilco's successive releases see them break any remaining preconceptions into tiny pieces. Yes, there's an element of country but only in as much as there seems to be an element of everything here. Yankee Hotel Foxtrot will undoubtedly fox (sorry) even regular listeners on first listen, but repeated plays show it to be a veritable chinese puzzle: multi-faceted and knowing no recognisable boundaries. These facts are, perhaps, what Jeff Tweedy needs to know more than anything right now, for the genesis of this album was nothing if not painful. It was worth it, Jeff.
Blame the critical success of previous album Summerteeth but raising commercial expectations in a major record label was always going to cause problems. So much so in fact that YHF was rejected by Reprise as too left-field and in the ensuing tensions Tweedy and Co. lost guitarist Jay Bennett and their record deal. Following a small tour, a $50,000 price tag to buy back the master tapes and a new deal with Nonesuch (distributed by Warners, go figure...) one would expect the 18 month-old opus to have lost a little of its newness; but no. This sounds like the sound of next year built out of the wreckage of the past, and built to last.
While the first track "I Am Trying To Break Your Heart" follows Tweedy's lo-fi acoustic template, it's immediately obvious that two things are different. One is the more finely-tuned craft behind the song structures. Make no mistake (as Reprise obviously did), this is a great POP album as much as anything else. Songs like "War On War" with its jangly chorus and "Heavy Metal Drummer" which wryly details a true middle-American love affair with Kiss, burst with great hooks and sumptuous arrangements. The second great new thing is Jim O'Rourke's job on the mixing desk. An album of such contrasts as the dour lament "Ashes Of American Flags" and the Beck-like silliness of "I'm The Man That Loves You" (top Neil Young circa-"Loner" guitar here!) deserves an attention to production detail that will allow it to rise above, say, the next Wallflowers release. What seems slapdash on first listen is, in fact, irresistably assured and locked into place by a sonic palette which veers between charmingly ambient ("Heavy Metal Drummer") and disarmingly jarring ("Ashes&" and "Poor Places").
What Wilco realise is that this is all acceptable currency to the global audience and, while retaining a sense of melodic stability is as key to their formula as anything else, they need never aplogise for their increasingly eclectic approach. Yankee Hotel Foxtrot will outlast any tags you dare to put on it, and then some... --Chris Jones
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Top Customer Reviews
However, it's certainly on the more measured, downbeat songs that they come up trumps time and again. The opening bars of Ashes of American Flags send a shiver down one's spine, the song achingly melancholic until descending into a cacophony of feedback and white noise. And if that's not enough, the final two tracks Poor Places and Reservations are equally impressive, the latter possessing possibly the most gorgeous Tweedy melody yet.
I must admit that after Summerteeth, I thought the only way was down for Wilco, particularly given all the trouble with record labels and line-up changes. They have of course quite categorically proven me wrong; the CD not having left my stereo for the past three months bearing witness to the fact that this is one truly exceptional album. How nice it is to be wrong sometimes.
As one reviewer pointed out, it is the other sprawling, punctuated with static, tracks that are worth even more repeated listens. '...Break Your Heart', 'Poor Places' and 'Ashes of American Flags' are heartfelt, interesting and always hold something back so you discover it on the next listen.
The musical performances are, as always, excellent, although it will be interesting to see how they cope now that the multi-instrumentalist Jay Bennett has left. Jeff tweedy's vocals are close to crumbling on occasion, adding weight to lines like 'I shake like a tootache when I hear myself sing'. However, go see Wilco live and Tweedy's voice is as strong and vibrant as you hoped it could be. The album is terrific, but go see them live and you'll love the album that bit more.
I do still -specially for those people reading this after listening to YFH's follow-up the also impressive "A Ghost Is Born- need to point to a couple of important things that this album show about Wilco's consistently surprising output.
This album clearly demonstrates that Jeff Tweedy's musical vision and commitment to shed songwriting skins is remarkable and an inspiration, specially in the current midst of so many Rock and Pop icons continuing to repeat themselves, who at best flavor their "butter" differently but go on churning the same formula, forgetting to take the kind of risks that made them important in the first place.
Now, unlike many people have mourned earlier, I don't think this album is an absolute departure from what Wilco has been hailed for before. Although this is not "Summerteeth" or "Being There," Tweedy's love for Pop has not been renounced, "Kamera," "Heavy Metal Drummer" and "Pot Kettle Black" proved that.
More than abandoning former song-glories, Tweedy has evolved, has taken all that he can do and pushed it further into a new atmosphere. Where Jay Bennet was so instrumental in what the albums that preceded this one sounded like, Jim O'Rourke is now Tweedy's full musical partner.
And O'Rourke is no Yoko breaking a great band -actually Yoko did not either!- but rather someone who helped Tweedy say well what he was already prepared to say. His production deepens and thrusts these songs to a higher level.Read more ›
While Jeff Tweedy's vocals can underwhelm, Wilco compensate with more melodies and ideas than many bands can count on in a career. Many of the songs on Yankee Hotel Foxtrot have the instantly recognizable air that great songs do, even if you haven't heard them before. The melancholy slide guitar on `Ashes Of American Flags', for instance, or the little violin refrain on `Jesus Etc', and the burbling, propulsive electronics on `War On War' - almost every song has a compelling identity and irresistible hookiness. You can easily forgive the riff on `Pot Kettle Black' sounding very similar to The Cure's `In-Between Days'.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
The more you play this album the more you realise what a complex musical feat it is. The tunes run between dischord and harmony effortlessly. Read morePublished 8 months ago by P d Morgan
Amazing album. Let down here by being spread across 4 sides of vinyl... just unnecessary! The transition between ashes of American flags and heavy metal drummer is killed by being... Read morePublished 11 months ago by Alan Sundry
Over twenty listens later and no sign of " a classic album " in sight.
Having read so many strong reviews for this album , I was expecting a lot and while there are... Read more
Wilco is a funny band, coming out of the Minutemen meets Dixie-cup madness of Uncle Tupelo Jeff Tweedy started to make songs about being high and listening to more... country. Read morePublished 19 months ago by Deadbeat
Wilco's best record and what a mighty fine five star effort indeed (with the possible exception of Heavy Metal Drummer),,,near perfect!Published 23 months ago by Richard Clark
As most people will already know, this was a pivotal LP for Wilco. It was also a pivotal point in my love affair with Wilco. Read morePublished on 10 Mar. 2012 by K. K. Jakubczyk
This is superb as everyone knows. And at under £5 it is a superb price. But be careful, the "enhanced CD" I received today does not seem enhanced in any way apart from the fact... Read morePublished on 8 Nov. 2011 by JD Durham
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