Wilco: "Blue Sky Blue"
Producer: Wilco
Release Date: May 15

With "Sky Blue Sky," Wilco eschews the sonic adventurousness of its last two records in favor of more subdued material. Gone are the electronic blips and blurps and 10-minute homages to Kraftwerk, replaced by rootsy, often acoustic-driven songs that call to mind '70s light rock. One can hear traces of the Beatles' "Something" on opener "Either Way," while the rest of the album stews together the Band, Pink Floyd circa "Meddle" and the Allman Brothers. On first listen, it might seem too derivative, even dull, but Jeff Tweedy's intricate vocal melodies and Nels Cline's ferocious guitar work keep things interesting. Best of the bunch: the twin guitar soloing of "Impossible Germany," the head-nodding, twangy strut of "Walken" and the emotional crescendo of "On and On and On." What's most impressive is the band's ability to gracefully shift from one style to the next -- from track to track, album after album -- and continue to deliver quality songs. --Ben French