Release date: June 22, 2004

Wilco's A Ghost Is Born isn't necessarily the band's most influential or best album—those titles would probably go to Yankee Hotel Foxtrot, their experimental and critically acclaimed album officially released in 2002. No, A Ghost Is Born isn't their creative peak or career highlight, but it's something just as valuable. A Ghost Is Born is a lesson in aging gracefully. How the fuck else do you follow up a release like Yankee Hotel Foxtrot? In 2004, Wilco answered that question. They won a Grammy for Best Alternative album, received critical acclaim once again, and had their best sales week ever.

A Ghost Is Born is a lesson in aging gracefully. How the f*** else do you follow up a release like Yankee Hotel Foxtrot?

A Ghost Is Born is a masterpiece in balance. Songs like "Hummingbird," "Handshake Drugs," and "The Late Greats" featured the catchy pop stylings of Wilco's earlier work, but there was still an experimental edge that you'd expect from a band who had just made YHF (see: "Spiders" and the 15-minute "Less Than What You Think.") Instead of recording live in a studio, the band played everything through Pro Tools before recording anything live, a process they had never tried before. The biggest complaint is that the album lacks cohesiveness, but that's what it took to come down from Yankee Hotel Foxtrot, and Wilco handled that masterfully.

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