Chicago rock outfit Wilco has signed with Nonesuch Records for the release of its fourth album, “Yankee Hotel Foxtrot.” While details of the deal will be announced sometime next week, Nonesuch is eyeing an April 2002 release for the set, according to a source close the group.
Wilco had released three alt-country leaning albums on Reprise before the label rejected the more experimental pop leanings of “Yankee Hotel Foxtrot.” Sources confirm that executives at the Warner label had asked the band to make changes to the album — at one point going as far to suggest that frontman Jeff Tweedy find an outside songwriter to partner with — but the band balked and was able to negotiate out of its contract.
Wilco is said to have been courted by more than 30 labels before settling on Nonesuch, which, ironically, is also under the Warner Music Group umbrella. “Yankee Hotel Foxtrot” is currently available as an audio stream on Wilco’s official Web site.
Nonesuch has earned a reputation for being an artist-friendly label and is home to a diverse roster, ranging from composers Steve Reich and Philip Glass to singer/songwriter Emmylou Harris and freewheeling Brazilian artist/activist Caetano Veloso.
The signing comes near the end of what has been a rocky year for the Wilco. In addition to its label difficulties, the group’s lineup has undergone a massive retooling. Last winter, Tweedy replaced original drummer Ken Coomer with the more versatile and atmospheric Glenn Kotche, and within weeks of splitting from Rerpise, multi-instrumentalist Jay Bennett left the band to pursue a solo career.
Bennett is credited with much of the Big Star-like pop flourishes of 1999’s “Summerteeth,” but is said to have played a minor role on “Yankee Hotel Foxtrot.” Longtime contributor Leroy Bach has now taken over as a full-time multi-instrumentalist.
“Yankee Hotel Foxtrot,” mixed by indie rock veteran Jim O’Rourke, finds the band further expanding its boundaries, this time focusing more on the tension in Tweedy’s voice amid the spare, ’60s psychedelic influence of tracks like “I Am Trying to Break Your Heart” and “I’m the Man Who Loves You.” As previously reported, the sessions for the album were filmed for a documentary by Los Angeles filmmaker/photographer Sam Jones. The film is expected to begin screening early next year.
Wilco wraps a North American tour Dec. 8 in Denver, and has also confirmed an appearance at the Los Angeles edition of the All Tomorrow’s Parties festival, set for March 15-17, 2002.