Jay Farrar’s decision to leave Uncle Tupelo in 1994 thrust Jeff Tweedy into a new role, though it helped that the rest of the band chose to stick with him under the rechristened name Wilco. That their debut was a relatively safe and modest affair was understandable; Tweedy was ambitious, yes, but the new band had to learn how to walk before they could run. On the one hand, A.M. is noticeably different from Uncle Tupelo’s records; the loss of Farrar’s writing and vocal presence is keen. But the camaraderie evident among the returning players (plus longtime friend Brian Henneman of the Bottle Rockets guesting on lead guitar) lends the album an easygoing charm akin to early-’70s SoCal country rock. There are curveballs here and there — a Stonesy kick on “Casino Queen,” quiet reflection on “Dash 7,” a lead vocal and songwriting turn for bassist John Stirratt on “It’s Just That Simple” — but mostly the band keeps an even keel, finding comfort in simple rootsy pleasures. The quirky “Passenger Side” seemed like a throwaway at first but has become a fan favorite over the years, while “I Must Be High” and “Box Full of Letters” provided early snapshots of the melodic pop brilliance that would radiate on the next couple of Wilco records.
By Peter Blackstock on 09.26.11 in Icons
It's a tribute to leader Jeff Tweedy's enduring commitment to artistic rebirth and reinvention that one could listen to Wilco's 1995 debut A.M. and its Grammy-winning 2004 album A Ghost Is Born back to back and have no i...
By Marc Hogan on 01.13.15 in News
Time to double-check those "Most Anticipated Albums of 2015" lists. The year began on an ambitious note led by PJ Harvey, and this week brought chances to stream a couple of the most eagerly awaited albums along with new...
By Marc Hogan on 12.19.14 in News
Well, Nation, that's it. Stephen Colbert has moved on from The Colbert Report, after nine brilliant years. He sent it off in his own singular style, though, and — despite Kendrick Lamar's appearance earlier this week as...
By Laura Leebove on 12.17.14 in Features
On crying at shows, impossibly high expectations and making songs Mean Something