2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Welcome Home, Best Yet
Yes, I enjoyed the experimentation. I championed ghost when some were panning it... But here we have a crowning achievement, a homecoming, and a bold statement. The band that fell apart as YHF was being recorded reassembled itself for Ghost, toured a LOT, and lo and behold became a cohesive unit. Sky blue sky is the proof. Nels Kline is there, Glen Kotche (sp?) s...
Published on 26 April 2007 by John Furman
0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Just Ok
I've loved Wilco since their classic Americana double cd "Being There" from the late 90s. In fact I remember being so blown away by it, that I returned the next day during my lunch hour to listen to it again on the Virgin listening post!
Seeing them live and hearing their sound develop over the years from the blissed out power pop of Summer Teeth, the...
Published on 15 Sep 2011 by P. Sharpe
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Welcome Home, Best Yet,
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Smoothed out... I prefer the rough edges,
Since the release of Summerteeth in 1999 Wilco have progressed increasingly further down the road of dissonant, yet musical experimentation that is at times hard to listen to but always utterly captivating. They perfected the journey-in-a-song style, taking the listener from one place and transporting them seamlessly to a completely different place (try playing "Spiders (Kidsmoke)" from A Ghost Is Born from anywhere in the final 1/4 of the song without the context of the rest of the song and you'll see what I mean). Yet this is a facet, and definite plus, of Wilco's music that has been pretty much dropped in their new release.
Gone are the feedback, lengthy experimentation and expertly placed atonal guitars and in comes a new style of smoother country-tinged rock that has less edge, lyrically and musically, than many fans of Wilco's repertoire have come to love and, to a certain extent, expect. The beat is still there in the livelier tracks, but more akin to Van Morrison or Bob Dylan during his time with The Band. The atmosphere is still there in some of the ballads but the lyrical edge has been smoothed.
I was fortunate enough to see Wilco live in London this week and it was interesting to hear how, when played with a bit more dynamic range and grit, these songs were really lifted to a new level and came across very well. This left me feeling that maybe the production of Sky Blue Sky has not done the depth of the music justice.
One personal gripe for me is the excessive guitar noodling in a faux-jazz stylee by Nels Cline. However, I recognise that this may not be an annoyance to other listeners, some may find it very impressive but to me it lacks a little substance and often takes away more than it adds.
Overall I think that this is an interesting album and strikes me as a band, whom we have grown used to being slightly dark and insightful, taking a break from expectation and having a little fun doing what they know best instead. I doubt it will be a CD that I will play incessantly like Summerteeth or YHF but who knows, it may be a grower!
NOW ONTO THE DVD...
I must say... it's pretty good. This interview, inter-cut with live performances, seems to be a genuine attempt on Jeff Tweedy's part to relate where the songs came from and what the intended vision and direction for the album was. Some of the photography is really good to boot.
In part of the interview Jeff Tweedy says that he purposefully avoided some of the darker topics of previous releases, partly because they have already been covered but also because he wanted to make an album that his wife could listen to. Perhaps this accounts for some of the loss of edge? Still, a good album and a very interesting DVD.
5.0 out of 5 stars Another masterpiece from Wilco,
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This review is from: Sky Blue Sky (Audio CD)Wilco are a band who again and again have proven that they can come up with a sequence of recorded songs that merits the term ALBUM. I rate Sky Blue Sky on the same level as Being There, Summerteeth and YHF as simply being a masterful, coherent, deliberate but nonchalant recording from beginning to end. Given the differences stressed in many other reviews I'd like to point out the similarities. All Wilco albums require repeated listening and gradually dig themselves deeply into the subconscious. This one may be a bit easer - but then I've had my training on the other three already. Jeff Tweedy is clearer in his head and his lyrics after detoxing from his painkiller abuse and Nels Cline adds some fantastic guitar play. I chill out perfectly with this. But YHF with its noise will do the same trick.
As for the other albums: AM may be patchy but underappreciated for its highlights, A Ghost Is Born makes me work to hard to list it among the masterpieces and on Wilco (The Album) things are getting just a bit patchy again.
4.0 out of 5 stars Mr Blue Sky ! (8/10),
This review is from: Sky Blue Sky (Audio CD)My ongoing love affair with Wilco began at the time of Sky Blue Sky's release, but not, oddly, with the album itself, which received fairly mixed opinions at the time. Sifting through those variable reviews I found myself tracking back to their earlier album 'Yankee Hotel Foxtrot', for me their masterpiece, and following it with the more challenging but (almost) equally rewarding 'Ghost is Born'. The criticisms levelled at Sky Blue Sky seemed to be that they had abandoned some of their wilful dissonance and sonic adventure in favour of softer rock brushstrokes and a return to the more conventional (pre-YHF) alt-country template with which they had made their name, but that I am admittedly not familiar with. Thus it was with mild trepiditation that I approached Sky Blue Sky, and I'm happy to report, belatedly, that it's a very beautiful record indeed. Some of what has been lost in terms of electronic or experimental distortion has been compensated in part by some of Jeff Tweedy's most robust and lucid vocals yet, and by a lushness of instrumentation, abetted by the addition of two new players in Nels Cline and Glenn Kotche - names new to me but apparently experimentalists of some repute.
Sky Blue Sky been painted as too 'nice', too soft rock, but Wilco's moods are too despondent, too bleak to satisfy the real mainstream. Both tight and expansive, many of Sky Blue Sky's tracks unfold with beautifully sparring guitars - their singular gifts for mixing textures undiminished. The fact that the textures have changed - there are fewer Jim O'Rourke-patented spasms of guitar noise - doesn't automatically make the music garden-variety. There is a lighter, jazzier feel with soulful and even Far Eastern accents in places ('Impossible Germany'), but with an economy, precision and inventiveness that persistently catches the ear. Dispensing with an exhaustive track by track guide here I urge undecided buyers to check out streams of 'Side with the Seeds', with its thrilling ascent from bluesy rock to vertiginous post-rock cacophony. Book-ended by the bleak piano-led 'Either Way' and 'On And On And On', Sky Blue Sky's other highlights include the hazy, steel-pedal beauty of the title track, and the simple, lilting ballads 'Please Be Patient With Me' and 'Leave Me (Like You Found Me)', with their weeping, piercingly gorgeous high-end guitar work. Some of the jauntier numbers ('Shake It Off', for example) are more disappointing but overall this feels like an album that has been done some major critical injustice, probably owing to over-anticipation following their mid-decade purple patch. Something that hasn't been lost between Sky Blue Sky and 'A Ghost is Born' though is that odd spaciousness to their songwriting: no other band to my knowledge can be so tight whilst simultaneously making such a puzzling texture out of emptiness. Great stuff.
4.0 out of 5 stars Wilco - Songs with dangerous hints of melody,
This review is from: Sky Blue Sky (Audio CD)The reception to this album puzzles the hell of me. This is a stone cold alt country classic and yet it appears that many listeners are getting a bit hot under the collar since Wilco and its key songwriter Jeff Tweedy has rediscovered tunes. We all love the past two albums particularly YFH, one of my favorite albums, but do i honestly listen to all the tracks on that or a ghost is born? The answer is of course not. No body in their right mind listens to "Reservations" or "Less than you think" on Ghost unless your some sort of Sonic Youth noise purist and think "Arc" is Neil Young's crowning glory. Get "Kicking Televison" and the song which the crowd go most banana's for is "Jesus etc". Yet here we have an album with songs as equally good as the latter especially "Impossible Germany" "Hate it here" "Side with Seeds" (check the great performance on the amazon review)and it is greated with a sort of high brow indifference because of its lack of cutting edge experimentation and includes what John Peel used to call "dangerous hints of melody". Surely the sign of a great band is the ability to "vary their plays" and Sky blue sky delivers in spades. With Ryan Adams and Conor Oberst delivering equally strong new albums 2007 is going rather well thus far.
4.0 out of 5 stars Don't worry, it's great.,
More relaxed, less frantic and comfortable in its own skin, Sky Blue Sky showcases a band who can move from more familiar soaring guitar solos to Uncle Tupelo-era acoustic ballads, and back again without breaking a sweat. Frontman Jeff Tweedy called this "hands down the easiest Wilco album to make" and it's obvious. The songs feel happier, without the frustration and anger of a band falling apart (Yankee Hotel Foxtrot) or a crippling drug addiction (A Ghost Is Born). Notably absent is the challenging fuzz and noise from the previous two albums. Sky Blue Sky is much more accessible yet on first listen doesn't sound like much. Like the best relationships this album makes you yearn to listen to it again, and rewards your time by revealing new facets you hadn't noticed before. At first "Impossible Germany" will seem like the greatest song ever written, then "Please Be Patient With Me" will captivate you with its gentle harmonies before you move onto the sticatto lead guitar of "Hate It Here". If you buy Sky Blue Sky, be prepared to listen to nothing else for weeks, this is Wilco at their effervescent peak.
5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Safe-ish but sound,
This review is from: Sky Blue Sky (Audio CD)`Sky Blue Sky', Wilco's sixth album, once again shows Jeff Tweedy's willingness to change the band's style which makes his band so interesting. Virtually gone is the experimentalism in sound which was so prominent on `Yankee Hotel Foxtrot' and `A Ghost Is Born', instead Wilco deliver a set of laid-back, mellow alt.country/rock songs which exude an atmosphere of contentment.
As we have come to expect from Wilco the standard of musicianship is extremely high. There is a loose, free sound to the record, for example on `Impossible Germany' with its extended guitar workout. On that song and others, notably `Please Be Patient With Me', which reminded me of a cut from Lou Reeds `Coney Island Baby' the guitar sound is very 70s but it works well.
There is satisfying variety too. "Sky Blue Sky' is a mellow number which would not be out of place on `Being There', whilst the final track builds superbly from a keyboard backing to a great finale.
For me the most interesting song is `Side With the Seeds' which starts with gentle piano then develops with an intricate and insistent electric guitar pattern backed with strings and Hammond organ and finishes with a furious guitar climax. This track recalls some of the experimental spirit of the last two releases.
I gather Tweedy has overcome personal problems and this record certainly sounds like that of a contended man. `Maybe you love me/Maybe you don't' he sings on the opening track and it sounds like he is not bothered either way.
`Sky Blue Sky' is a supremely accomplished rock record, mellow and retro-sounding in places, which confirms Wilco as one of the world's best bands. If you like their previous edgy approach you may find this record a little safe and cosy, but no-one can deny the quality of the music in display here.
7 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Staying right for you,
This review is from: Sky Blue Sky (Audio CD)Wilco is basically the reigning king of alt-rock -- even when it stumbled, it was still keeping a hand on the throne.
And fortunately, after the disappointing "A Ghost is Born," Wilco returns with a mellow, more optimistic sound in "Sky Blue Sky." Frankly, Jeff Tweedy sounds more at peace with the world, and he wraps that peace in a back-to-basics country-rock blanket.
"Maybe the sun will shine today/The clouds will blow away/Maybe I won't feel so afraid/I will try to understand either way," Tweedy sings over a folky guitar, a swelling violin and a flickering piano. It sounds like a promise to a loved one, after his stint with addiction: "I will try to understand/Everything has its plan/Either way I'm going to stay right for you..."
He follows it up with a gentle river of mellow, smooth alt-rockers laced with keyboard, stomping rockers, loosely-wound acoustic ballads, drawling electro-country, and combinations of all of the above. And they're all slow-burning, meditative and reflective, right up to the hopeful "What Light" and the delicate piano'n'strings of "On and On and On."
You could call this Jeff Tweedy's "recovery album" -- it's filled with new hope, old fears, repairing relationships with loved ones ("you're gonna need to be patient with me") and reflections on the world. There's something very personal about most of these songs.
And the music has gone back to basics -- rippling acoustic guitar, piano melodies and ripples of retro keyboard, and some blasts of bass and violin. While Wilco doesn't forge any new territory, they do polish up what they have with some lovely harmonies and layers of delicate instrumentation.
Tweedy's slightly rough voice is a pleasant one, registering yearning, sorrow and optimism through the album. The lyrics stumble at times, such as one cringingly awkward intro ("Impossible Germany/Unlikely Japan/Wherever you go/Wherever you land"), but fortunately are fairly solid for the rest of the album ("When the mysteries we believe in/Aren't dreamed enough to be true/Some side with the leaves...")
"Sky Blue Sky" isn't quite Wilco at its best, but it is Wilco in a solid, musically adept place, with a note of optimism that hasn't quite been there before.
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Wilco do it again,
This review is from: Sky Blue Sky (Audio CD)Jeff Tweedy cannot write an uninteresting song and while this may not be as experimental as some previous Wilco albums it is very addictive. 'Impossible Germany' alone is worth the price of admission.
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Buy this now,
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