RIYL: Wilco

October 23, 2014

Welcome to our feature "RIYL," which, if you're not acronymically inclined, stands for "Recommended If You Like." Each time around, we'll highlight a band that you might already love, and draw connections to five other great artists you should check out if you're a fan of that artist.

photo: Wilco pressDrawing comparisons to Wilco is a puzzling task. The stylistic differences between sundry items of the Wilco catalog -- just listen to “Being There” and “Yankee Hotel Foxtrot” back to back hear for yourself -- complicates pinning the group to a specific genre.

Throughout their two decade career, frontman Jeff Tweedy and company have worn many musical hats: alt-country, Americana folk, experimental indie, classic guitar rock, etc. The forthcoming compilation marking the group's 20-year anniversary, "What's Your 20," will certainly highlight their eclectic offerings. 

What has remained constant, however, is the earnestness of Tweedy’s songwriting, the unmistakable skill of the rotating cast of members like guitarist Nels Cline and drummer Glenn Kotche, and their unwillingness to cling to past successes, with each album a notable departure from the last.

If you’re a Wilco fan, here are five other artists you might like:

Uncle Tupelo

The original Wilco lineup was basically the remnants of southern Illinois alt-country darlings Uncle Tupelo, minus principal songwriter Jay Farrar.

Picking up where the late Gram Parsons left off, Uncle Tupelo released four albums within four years in the early ‘90s. While the band eventually imploded due to tensions between Jeff Tweedy and Farrar, the band was a cornerstone of the “No Depression” Americana scene (and corresponding publication) which took its name from the group’s trademark debut album.

The Jayhawks

Hailing a couple states north of Wilco’s native Illinois, Minnesota natives The Jayhawks have been crafting rollicking, easygoing roots rock that are clearly a heavy influence on Wilco albums like “AM” and “Being There.”

Built to Spill

Built to Spill have been longtime contemporaries of Wilco, releasing consistently acclaimed records over the course of a long career in an industry where artists aren't built to last. 

While the Boise indie group's output might veer a little more towards the extraterrestrial (see above), Doug Martsch and his band share a good deal of influences ranging from Pavement to Neil Young.

Blitzen Trapper

Portland, Ore., group Blitzen Trapper's career trajectory has been remarkably similar to that of Wilco: early records thoroughly doused with country-folk influences ("Wild Mountain Nation"), with later ventures into indie rock ("Furr") and experimental songwriting ("Destroyer of the Void"). 

Sour Boy, Bitter Girl

Spearheaded by singer-songwriter Benjamin Buttice, Fort Collins act Sour Boy, Bitter Girl takes a page from Wilco by channeling the innate melancholy within folk music and envigorating it with roots rock. Buttice's baritone vocals may seem stoic, but there's a healthy dose of tenderness beneath the surface. 

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