When the acclaimed alt-country act Uncle Tupelo split up a few years ago, two new bands were born. Jay Fararr founded the St. Louis-based Son Volt, and new Chicagoan Jeff Tweedy formed Wilco. Though many critics regarded Fararr as the more talented singer and songwriter of the pair, Tweedy has proven himself at least equally as gifted - Wilco's 1995 album "A.M." was a critical and commercial success. While focusing on the same type of music that made Uncle Tupelo famous - punk inflected folk and country - Wilco's songs tend to be more personal and less concerned with social and political issues that were the mainstay of Uncle Tupelo shows. From upbeat honey tonk numbers like "Casino Queen" to the introspective folk of "Box Full of Letters" and "Dash 7" and concert favorite "Passenger Side," the album offered a bit of something for everyone.
In 1996, they released a 19-song 2-disc, Being There on Reprise Records that was an even bigger success than A.M.. It incorporated slacker rock, country and Beatles-esque pop into a delightful mesh. Even with its tremendous length, none of the tracks feel like filler. As famous as they have become (well, relatively), Wilco still plays occasional small local shows here in Chicago, mostly at the Lounge Ax (Tweedy's wife, Sue Miller, is a co-owner of the establishment). The smaller shows are extremely popular and, though they are rarely advertised, always sell out. (They even filled the Lounge Ax the night of the Bulls Championship Final.)
During the first half of 1998 the backed Billy Bragg in putting Woody Guthrie lyrics to music. The result, titled Mermaid Avenue, hit stores in June, 1998 to the now-usual critical acclaim. The effort is up for a Grammy in the category of Contemporary Folk Album, a tough lineup this year...
The Chicago Reader's Peter Margasak called Their new release, Summerteeth (Reprise), "Wilco's most accomplished, ebullient music to date, a vibrant mix of sounds that references the Beach Boys and the Beatles without sounding derivative."
For more information, visit their website: http://www.wilcoworld.net/
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