Essential New Music: William Tyler’s “Modern Country”


No one ever said that jamming econo was easy. The upside of being a one-man band is that after you pack the guitars, amp and merch, there’s still plenty of room in the car; the downside is that there’s no one to talk to. Guitarist William Tyler’s solution has been to listen to a lot of ’70s C&W and krautrock. You can hear elements of both on Modern Country, as well as another solution waiting in the wings—to get a band.

Backed by members of Tweedy and Wilco, Tyler has crafted eight instrumentals that augment his lilting fingerpicking with stately keyboards and brisk beats. Aside from a few minutes of white-line numbness, it’s a salutary combination. “Highway Anxiety,” for example, sounds more like a prescription than a description; as the number on your odometer rises, soaring steel licks and thick synths induce your blood pressure to drop.

—Bill Meyer