Sky Blue Sky
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19 of 19 people found the following review helpful
I am not always one who buys the cd/dvd package when it costs more than just the cd because some bands string together some things on the dvd's that are complete [...]. That is not the case of this DVD. I was actually surprised by how beautifully it was shot and then at the end of the DVD I saw why it was because of Brendan Canty formerly of Fugazi. Brendan also had a lot to do with Jeff's solo DVD Sunken Treasure. If you don't think these songs will sound great live then you should hear these songs played live on the DVD they are incredible. Impossible Germany I have heard live last year on tour and Walken as well. I prefer the live version of Walken because I think it becomes a great rock song played live. I have had a chance to listen to the album several more times now and it is amazing to me that Wilco has been able to do two consistent things over the years and that is make great albums each time out and also piss off a portion of their fanbase every time out. I have seen some reviews on here and in some magazines about this album and I agree with some and some not so much. Does this album sound like a Grateful Dead album? I only hear two songs that sound like the Dead to me and that is Side With The Seeds and Sky Blue Sky. Shake It Off to me sounds like a Pink Floyd song to a certain degree to me. The real gem on this album though is the song that closes the album On and On and On. For those who may not now Jeff lost his mother last year and this song was written for his dad. For those who say that the lyrics on this album are not that great then I suggest you listen to the lyrics in this song very closely they are probably some of the most heartfelt lyrics that Tweedy has ever written.
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19 of 20 people found the following review helpful
on March 16, 2007
Probably my favorite thing about Wilco is that each of their albums is completely different from one another... however, what makes their latest effort different from previous ones is that it's hard to categorize this record. It's not experimental like YHF, it's not alt-countryish like A.M., it's not raw like Ghost is Born... it's mostly just a bunch of simple, beautiful songs, half of them being ballad-like. I'll say right now that, outside of a couple blazing guitar solos from Nels Cline, I don't think that Jeff uses the instrumental talent of his bandmates (or himself) enough on this record. I thought "Ghost is Born" had some unbelievable percussion and guitar moments, and that is mostly lacking on "Sky Blue Sky". With that said, I've already found myself singing along to all 12 tracks on this record, and the best moment for me is the very opening acoustic guitar strumming on the first track, "Either Way", followed by a classic-sounding opening vocal from Jeff, which has already been hard to match in the live performances of the song.

You gotta respect a guy who plays before thousands of people at most shows and decides to make a quiet, little record to tour off of. Wilco is one of those bands that is not meant for the big arena, and this album, probably more than any of their others, will be unkind to the big venue. It'll be interesting to see how the band delivers these mostly quiet little songs to a large mass of fans.
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30 of 36 people found the following review helpful
In the first half of this decade, Wilco released 2 groundbreaking studio albums, 2002's "Yankee Hotel Foxtrot" and 2004's "a ghost is born", which both sounded miles away from the early alt-country roots of Wilco. Jeff Tweedy put a finishing touch on that chapter of the band with the release of the excellent live album "Kicking Television" in late 2005, which neatly summarizes that era, indicating that a different chapter was about to unfold. Now finally comes the much anticipated new album of Wilco.

"Sky Blue Sky" (12 tracks, 51 min.) is a striking departure from the previous albums. You only have to listen to the opening notes of the lead-off track "Either Way" to realize this. Even the opening lines "Maybe the sun will shine today/The clouds will break away" provide a brighter and more optimistic perspective than we're generally used to from Jeff Tweedy. "Impossible Germany" is the best track on the album, with a long instrumental outro of 2 duelling guitars. The track somehow reminds me of the title track of Steve Miller's "Circle of Love" album. The title track "Sky Blue Sky" is as beautiful and pensive as Tweedy has ever been. Other highlights include the Dylanesque "What Light", with great lytics like "And if you're trying to paint a picture/But you're not sure which colors belong/Just paint what you see/Don't let anyone say you're wrong"; the harder charging "Shake It Off", and the closer "On and On and On", which perfectly sums up the overall feeling of this album.

Jeff Tweedy continues to surprise us, and I couldn't be more thrilled about it. Very different from "Yankee Hotel Foxtrot", perhaps not as ground-breaking in its sound, yet just as satisfy to listen to. I can't wait to see how it all translation in concert, when I see Wilco live next month. Highly recommended!
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22 of 26 people found the following review helpful
on March 27, 2007
It's probably a truism by now that the one thing you can expect from each new Wilco release is the unexpected. When you think you've got 'em pinned down, Tweedy and company zig where you're thinking they're gonna zag. That is as true with "Sky Blue Sky" as anywhere.

Tweedy gave us fans a little preview of where his head was at in his now-famous bit of concert dialogue at the Abbey Pub, in Chicago, on 1/25/2006, where he stated: "I'm really really sick and tired of all this intellectual hoity-toity poetry bull****...I think if we could possibly pull off making this record we're trying to make, this super-dirty-soul record...I think if we can't make this record then the terrorists have truly won." Of course when I heard this clip on the internet accompanied by "That's the Thanks I Get" (which curiously did not make it onto this record) I started expecting a sharp left turn into raw soul music, sort of a loud, brash Solomon Burke-style jam session. In no way does this album sound like what I was picturing. But in its own way this is a soul record, in the sense that it possesses the quality that you find in only the deepest of soul records: honesty.

Let me back up for a minute. I received my advance copy today by sheer luck, more than a month before the record's official release date. Although I usually don't listen to music at work (at this point those two spheres of my life are pretty separate), I gave the entire thing a spin in one sitting. I was both intrigued and disappointed. The friend who gave it to me warned me that it was "mellow," which is a term I have seen floating around the internet to describe the album, and he was right! Far from Solomon Burke, I was hearing Steely Dan circa "Pretzel Logic." Not that this is a bad thing - Pretzel is one of my favorite records of all time in fact - it's just not what I thought I was going to hear. Only "Hate it Here" really grabbed me. For the first time in a decade or more I actually found myself let down by a Wilco record.

But sometimes it takes time for things to happen. Like any relationship worthy of sticking with, you give things a chance. The second half of the record got a second spin at the desk, and the first half in the car on the way home. I even took the long route just to let it sink in. By that point I was beginning to come around. The moment it hit me though was several hours later, when I was washing the dishes after dinner. I started with "Hate it Here" and played it to the end. By the time the final track rolled around I knew I had found a keeper.

The key to understanding this disc is in the lyrics to "What Light," where Tweedy seems to be addressing the attention which his songwriting has garnered. "Just sing what you feel," he croons in his best husky Dylan-esque, "don't let anyone say it's wrong." Later in the song he makes reference to what is "yours" being "everyone's from now on," a fact that is neither "right or wrong." It's this kind of honesty and soul that defines this record, and meshes beautifully with the new, more grounded sound. Tweedy here and throughout the record seems to be doing what soul artists from days past (Otis Redding, for example, or Solomon Burke) have done: that is to sit down, look around, and try to make sense of life. Throughout there is a feeling of recovery, of healing from past wounds and sorting out relationships gone awry. Tweedy asks the hard questions on "Side With the Seeds" and shows a quiet sense of humor and resignation on "Hate it Here." If "A Ghost is Born" was the bad trip, filled with devils, migraines and ten-minute drone-sessions, this is the quiet morning after when you wake up and try to put your life back together.

As for the record's sound, there are all kinds of comparisons you could make. I already pointed out similarities with Steely Dan, but there is also a Josh Rouse-ish feel, and a kind of prog-rockish guitar thing in some songs courtesy of Nels Cline that is often unexpected and sometimes unbelievably spectacular. Tweedy seems to be in full singer-songwriter mode, and suitably the acoustic guitar makes a frequent appearance. If the record has one flaw, it seems to be the fear of making too much noise. At times Tweedy and company seem to be afraid they just might wake the neighbors.

However, this is a small price to pay for a record that contains so much wisdom, that feels so grounded and sane. Tweedy has shed what he considers to be his "hoity-toity poetry" (which actually did lead, in all fairness, to several of the best records in the history of popular music) and has gone back to basics with this set of spare, minimalistic tunes. If there is any controversy swirling around this one, it can only be that he has turned his back on the critics the way he supposedly turned his back on alt-country fans after "Being There." I do expect a possible critical backlash and I'm sure Tweedy will be laughing it up as he readies himself for a tour. Hey crits, there's always Loose Fur to drool over!

In summation of this long, rambly, largely stream-of-consciousness review, this is a record to be ENJOYED. Listen but don't overanalyze. It's that kind of a record.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on February 10, 2008
I've read many reviews for this album, and some of them were downright aggressively angry and bitter. This is a beguiling album, another chapter in a band that is probably the most underrated, underappreciated band working today. While grunge exploded in the 1990's and was being thrust in our faces, these guys were making really amazing music completely under the radar, and while the grunge bands have either splintered or are just former fragments of what they used to be, Wilco is still standing, getting better with each album. I find this album charming, etheral, and solidly Wilcoish. It's really beautiful, especially the single What Light and Either Way. Nels Cline's guitar work really gives this album a unique sound. Jeff Tweedy is a great band leader as well as a great songwriter/musician. He chooses his musicians with the same great care he writes his songs. I don't understand why so-called longtime fans of Wilco hate this so much. It's not Yankee Hotel Foxtrot, A Ghost is Born, A.M., Mermaid Avenue, Being There, Summerteeth, etc., etc., it's Sky Blue Sky.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on May 17, 2007
Well, it's kind of good. I read one review in Entertainment Weekly that said it was an Eagles album, which scared the heck out of me, luckily, it's not an Eagles album. I like most of the songs, and it's a better album than A Ghost is Born, which aside from Handshake Drugs and ATWSS, sounded like a string of B-Sides. I enjoy five out of the first six songs, then have to skip a few, and like What Light. I would compare Wilco to Radiohead, Being There, Summerteeth, and YHT are much like The Bends and OK Computer, absolutely brilliant, then the albums get spotty for me. I am a huge Wilco fan, so I buy the albums, but I can't believe someone who isn't a huge fan would be happy with the last two studio releases. I'll just keep listening to Kicking Television and my concert CD's, remembering the old days...
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
on May 15, 2007
Two gripes I have with reviews in general:

First, what exactly is alt-country? Music has been categorized to hell, it doesn't even make sense anymore. I think Jeff Tweedy had it right when he said that Wilco is, and always has been a rock & roll band. That is the only genre actually means anything in the context of Wilco.

Second, what does it mean when people say things like, "it's pink floyd meets Eagles" ? If Wilco was composed of Roger Waters and Don Henley, I'd understand. Stop comparing Wilco to everybody and realize that the only thing Wilco is, is Wilco. This is not true for every band, but Wilco is definitely about at unique as they come.

Moving on to my other gripes: I don't understand why people don't expect bands to evolve. The best musicians grow and tinker with their sound. Wilco has changed their sound with every single record. Why are people surprised when Sky Blue Sky sounds different from A Ghost is Born and YHF?

Lastly, this isn't so much of a gripe but more of a disagreement, I don't think it takes long to like these songs at all. They are all very accessible. The first time I heard this album I knew it was something special. Nels Cline adds another dimension to this band that takes it to a whole other level. Wilco goes from slow and contemplative with Either Way, Leave me (Like you Found Me) and Please be Patient with Me, to beautiful guitar Solos in Impossible Germany and Side with the Seeds, to folky in What Light. Tweedy even manages to sound happy in Walken. All in all, this is one of the best albums to come out in years, and does nothing but add to the collection of one of the greatest bands out there.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
I've listened to Wilco's music forever. I've liked all the musical change ups but some albums took longer than others to become accustomed to. Same with this one. It took about a week. After the first day I would have given it 3.5 stars. One week later I believed it's their best album ever.

Great Songs, incredible lyrics (Just listen to them!). The DVD is terrific and helps give you a deeper understanding of songs.

Keep changing it up boys! How about a punk album next?
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on May 29, 2007
I already had 4 or 5 promotional mp3s from this album and wasn't really going to buy it. Those songs grew on me slowly and I thought they were a disappointing departure from Yankee Hotel Foxtrot. Eventually I found myself listening to those songs several times a day. I'm glad I bought the full cd/dvd. The songs I hadn't heard hit me quickly. Yes, it is more stripped down than their last few but there is still that unmistakable Wilco blend of comfort and experimentation. People like to point out the similarities they hear to other artists and that's cool - but in the end this is all Wilco. Probably my favorite active band right now. With this album, I feel they have proven they can do what they want and rank with the greats. Their albums will be around 100 years from now.

I like Stephen B. Wright's observance in another review: they can realease great albums each time out and still piss off a portion of their fanbase with each one. For now, I'm a fan of all of it.

Regarding the DVD - I don't normally like interviews where the writers go on about everything they were thinking and blah blah blah. It usually sounds a little corny and self-important. Let the music speak for itself. The interviews here are pretty good - not embarrassing. The performances, though, are the reason to get it. Good stuff .
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62 of 84 people found the following review helpful
on April 3, 2007
It was nearly impossible to please everyone with A Ghost is Born, the follow-up to the moving and extraordinary Yankee Hotel Foxtrot. Personally, I loved 2 tracks from AGIB, bit I can't remember the others. Well, I listened to Sky Blue Sky yesterday...and then again today, and the songs here are not only more memorable, but they mark progress in Wilco's shift from alt-country to a kind of alt-soul. This album is part John Lennon, part Eagles, and part Pink Floyd, and it is gorgeous. Jeff Tweedy is definitely in a John Lennon phase, and his voice is as good here as it was on YHF. This will be played a lot during summer evenings in my house. It's a true album when the first and last tracks make perfect sense and sound so right.

I know we're despirate for quality American rock music. There was a time (1990-1995) when you could easily say that REM, Nirvana, Smashing Pumpkins, Galaxie 500/Luna, Sonic Youth, Perl Jam, Living Colour, Tool, and The Pixies were among the best. Nowadays, I have to stop and think. But with Wilco and Interpol both releasing albums this spring, I am back into celebrating what we Americans have.

Now finish that new album, Radiohead! These guys beat you to market.
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