Wilco’s Influences on the Music Industry

Wilco return this upcoming month with new album Shmilco, out September 9th. The band, based in Chicago, Illinois, was formed in 1994 with lead singer Jeff Tweedy, bassist John Stirratt, keyboardist Mikael Jorgensen, drummer Glenn Kotche, and multi-instrumentalist Pat Sansone remaining after the final band member lineup in 2004.

Wilco, who named themselves after the military radio voice acronym for “Will Comply,” is one of the most memorable and influential alternative rock bands that has been around since the 90s. While their sound started off as “alternative country,” it has since shifted and evolved to become more of an experimental, indie rock, Wilco has been known to display their unique perspective in music during various different eras throughout time. The band has also been described as grunge and avant-garde, more examples of their sound fitting in with the times of different eras. Initially, the band got its influences from artists from the 60s and 70s, including Neil Young, John Lennon, Bob Dylan, and The Velvet Underground, among many others from a wide range of music genres. They have even been nicknamed “the American Radiohead” from time to time, referencing how diverse in sound their work has been.

For a band to last so long in the music industry, one would believe that having to evolve and change sound would be too difficult, but Wilco have consistently proven this wrong. While each of their albums (9 released studio albums, with their 10th coming shortly) has sounded quite different from the others, long-time fans and listeners can appreciate how Wilco has pushed the boundaries of genre and learned to adapt through time, as well as their persistence in an ever-changing music industry, with Rolling Stone dubbing them as “one of America’s most consistently interesting bands.”

Being such a prominent band in the alternative, indie, and experimental rock has been proven in how many of today’s artists find influence in Wilco: The National, Grace Potter and the Nocturnals, Norah Jones, The Wallflowers, and Counting Crows, to name a few, have found great influence in Wilco and have even gone on to cover some of Wilco’s songs.

One of their best and most well-known albums includes Yankee Hotel Foxtrot, released in 2002. It is partially so well-known due to a spat with record companies and lawsuits that resulted in the album almost not being released. Since then, it has also been the only Wilco album to sell more than 500,000 copies, and has even gotten a documentary made about it. Their most recent album, titled Star Wars, was released earlier this year, and is an example of Wilco not taking themselves too seriously, while at the same time proving their worth as an ever-changing and talented band. They even took a chance with Star Wars in releasing it free of charge. While it may be one of the shortest and potentially least highly-regarded of Wilco’s albums, the creation of the songs on it lead to Shmilco, still a week before its release, as one of the band’s quietest and most laid-back albums to date. The release of Shmilcois highly anticipated by fans and music lovers alike, and can only look forward to how Wilco will influence the world of music next.

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