Wilco 

I was astonished by how tastemakers turned on Wilco after the release of Sky Blue Sky (Nonesuch) last spring. The band abandoned the meticulous "experimental" production approach ushered in by Yankee Hotel Foxtrot and went for a more straightforward sound--at least on the surface. On his first studio effort with the group, guitarist Nels Cline---the album's not-so-secret weapon--brilliantly subverts 70s-style rock solos with weird harmonies and counterintuitive patterns and demonstrates a melodic sensibility most rock guitarists could only dream of. Jeff Tweedy, who's always embraced the songwriting verities of classic rock, sounds a little more hopeful, if not exactly chipper, and since he quit smoking his range has expanded dramatically, allowing for greater expressiveness. The album does rely on some well-worn tropes--the mix of twang and drift borrows plenty from the Band--but these subtleties make it sound as fresh as anything I've heard all year. Dr. Dog opens. a 6:30 PM, Pritzker Pavilion, Millennium Park, Michigan & Randolph, 312-742-1168, sold out. A --Peter Margasak

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