Wilco Reminds Us They Were Alt-Country Before Alt-Country Was Cool

With the release of Cruel Country due out May 27, Wilco Re-embraces Country Music

Uncle Tupelo was an early alternative country music group from Belleville, Illinois active between 1987 and 1994. Jay Farrar, Jeff Tweedy, and Mike Heidorn, the band defined the alternative country genre for a generation.

No Depression is the first studio album by Uncle Tupelo, released in June 1990. The title track is a cover of a 1936 Carter Family song. 

Selling over 15,000 copies within a year of its release, the record is considered one of the most important alternative country albums, and its title is often used as a synonym for the alternative country genre.

In fact, the Uncle Tupelo cover of “No Depression” by the Cater Family was the inspiration for the roots magazine by the same name.

“No Depression” by Uncle Tupelo:

Uncle Tupelo split on May 1, 1994, after completing a farewell tour. Following the breakup, Farrar formed Son Volt with Heidorn, while the remaining members continued as Wilco.

Although Uncle Tupelo broke up before it achieved commercial success, the band is renowned for its impact on the alternative country music scene.

Now, after the last three decade of keeping the genre label at arms distance, Wilco is finally “going country,” as Tweedy puts it, with the forthcoming album titled Cruel Country.

Today, the band released the first single “Falling Apart (Right Now)”, from the album due out May 27 via dBpm.

“Falling Apart (Right Now) by Wilco:

As the title implies, the album embraces a genre of country music they’ve often been defined by but, until now, never fully embraced.

“We’ve never been particularly comfortable with accepting that definition, the idea that I was making country music. 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,” said Jeff Tweedy in a statement.

Wilco will celebrate Cruel Country on its release day by performing the album in full at Solid Sound Festival. It’s the band’s first album in three years, following Ode to Joy, and its 12th overall. Earlier this month, Wilco announced multiple deluxe reissue editions of Yankee Hotel Foxtrot in honor of its 20th anniversary.

The double album features 21 Jeff Tweedy-penned tracks, made almost entirely of live takes, created with all six members together in The Loft for the first time since the 2011 release The Whole Love.

Cruel Country Track List

01 I Am My Mother
02 Cruel Country
03 Hints
04 Ambulance
05 The Empty Condor
06 Tonight’s the Day
07 All Across the World
08 Darkness Is Cheap
09 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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20th century rural sociologist, Carl Frederick Kraenzel, coined the term ‘Yonland’ to describe the in-between places left indistinct and vague on a map. Yonlander is a rural publication designed for those outside the city limit sign pursuing a simple, independent lifestyle.


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