Wilco Announce Epic 2-Disc ‘Cruel Country’ Album, Drop Swinging ‘Falling


Wilco are going country. The revered indie rock band formed out of the ashes of alt-country icons Uncle Tupelo 28 years ago are set to fully embrace their twangy tendencies on the upcoming 2-disc collection Cruel Country.

“There have been elements of country music in everything we’ve ever done,” said singer/guitarist Jeff Tweedy in a statement announcing the collection, which is due out on May 27 on dBpm Records. Following the dissolution of Uncle Tupelo in 1994, the statement notes that there was a notion that Wilco was a country band, or at least an alt-country act, and Tweedy said there was definitely some evidence to support that idea.


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“We’ve never been particularly comfortable with accepting that definition, the idea that I was making country music,” he said. “But now, having been around the block a few times, we’re finding it exhilarating to free ourselves within the form, and embrace the simple limitation of calling the music we’re making Country.”

The band previewed the 21-song collection on Thursday (April 28) with the swinging “Falling Apart (Right Now),” on which Tweedy sings, “Why don’t you get in line, behind the tears I’m crying/ I know our hearts are very smart/ But you’re gonna have to learn, learn when it isn’t your turn somehow/ Cuz I’m gonna be the only one falling apart right now.”

The album’s release will coincide with this year’s Solid Sound Festival, which will take place once again at MASS MoCA museum in North Adams, Massachusetts on Memorial Day weekend (May 27-29). It will feature multiple headline sets from the band, as well as their side projects and a host of jazz, rock, hip-hop and indie acts including Sylvan EssoJapanese Breakfast, Bonnie “Prince” Billy, Terry Allen and The Panhandle Mystery Band, Jeff Tweedy & Friends, mike watt + the missingmen, Hand Habits, Wiki, Angel Bat Dawid, Iceage, Sam Evian, NNAM, Cut Worms, Nels Cline: Consentrik Quartet, Autumn Defense, Eleventh Dream Day and more.

According to the release, Cruel Country is almost entirely made up of live takes, with just a handful of overdubs following sessions where the band — Tweedy, John Stirratt, Glenn Kotche, Mikael Jorgensen, Pat Sansone and Nels Cline – played together in a room at The Loft studio in Chicago. “It’s a style of recording that forces a band to surrender control and learn to trust each other, along with each others’ imperfections, musical and otherwise.” said Tweedy about the method they hadn’t employed since the session for 2007’s Sky Blue Sky. “But when it’s working the way it’s supposed to, it feels like gathering around some wild collective instrument, one that requires six sets of hands to play.”

Tweedy said the songs form a “loose conceptual on the history of the United States,” which unfolds in a chronological way as the songs progress. “It isn’t always direct and easy to spot, but there are flashes of clarity,” explained Tweedy. “It’s all mixed up and mixed in, the way my personal feelings about America are often woven with all of our deep collective myths. Simply put, people come and problems emerge. Worlds collide. It’s beautiful. And cruel.” 

Watch the video for “Falling Apart (Right Now)” and see the full Cruel Country tracklist below.

Cruel Country tracklist:

1. “I Am My Mother”
2. “Cruel Country”
3. “Hints”
4. “Ambulance”
5. “The Empty Condor”
6. “Tonight’s The Day”
7. “All Across The World”
8. “Darkness Is Cheap”
9. “Bird Without A Tail / Base Of My Skull”
10. “Tired Of Taking It Out On You”
11. “The Universe”
12. “Many Worlds”
13. “Hearts Hard To Find”
14. “Falling Apart (Right Now)”
15. “Please Be Wrong”
16. “Story To Tell”
17. “A Lifetime To Find”
18. “Country Song Upside-down”
19. “Mystery Binds”
20. “Sad Kind Of Way”
21. “The Plains”


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