NEW YORK (AP) – Wilco’s music is, by turns, enigmatic, compelling, thrilling and absorbing. And it’s often – let’s be honest here – just plain weird.

Sometimes it’s many of those things in the same song. But while Wilco’s 2002 breakthrough album, “Yankee Hotel Foxtrot,” was self-consciously weird, the follow-up, “a ghost is born,” is more confidently weird.

The disc is being released Tuesday, although Wilco has streamed the music on its Web site for the past two months.

The new album’s predecessor became a legendary parable for the music industry, even a subject for a movie. Rejected by Wilco’s record company – essentially for being too, uh, weird – it was released to critical acclaim and became Wilco’s biggest seller.

Wilco’s growth from a standard alternative country band to a more arty, experimental unit nearly tore the band apart.

“It was a much easier record in terms of band dynamic and the amount of collaboration and investment from everybody involved,” said Jeff Tweedy, the chief singer and songwriter. “There was a lot more of a unified vision of what we wanted to do.”

The documentary depicting the “Yankee” sessions showed Tweedy and an ex-band member frequently arguing, with Tweedy leaving the studio at one point to vomit.

While it was smoother sailing with the band, Tweedy’s health clouded the sessions for “ghost.”

“I was feeling so rotten physically and emotionally that it was kind of a bloodbath for me,” he said.

Tweedy had frequent migraines from a panic disorder, which led to an addiction to painkillers. He went to a treatment facility for nearly a month this spring to deal with the problems.

He’s sure those troubles are reflected in his songs.

“A lot of things came from my subconscious that made me realize that I did know down deep some of the things I needed to do to get better,” he said. “That’s not uncommon. I think music exists to help you identify things in your life.”

While “Yankee” was an album that looked out at the world and struggles to communicate, “ghost” looks inward, he said. Much of it is about how difficult it is to know and be comfortable with who you are.

The song “Handshake Drugs” is one of the album’s most straightforward songs lyrically. But Tweedy often writes in a language that barely approaches English. He comes up with Technicolor imagery – “a fixed bayonet through the great southwest to forget her” – that can be difficult to decipher.

Tweedy smiles when he hears a phrase that writer Joe Klein, in The New York Times review of Greg Kot’s new biography of Wilco, used to describe the music on “Yankee Hotel Foxtrot.” He called it “brilliantly annoying” – a phrase he might extend to “a ghost is born.”

“It sounded positive,” Tweedy said. “I think that’s better than just annoying. I think it’s better than just brilliant. Neither one of those would be very descriptive of that record.”

If a listener said that he often has no idea what Tweedy is saying in a song but enjoys it anyway, would Tweedy be pleased or insulted?

“I consider that a compliment, because I think they’re wrong,” he said. “I don’t think they don’t understand a bloody thing I’m talking about. I just think they might not be able to express it, because it might be something that’s not centered around language.

“It’s music,” he said. “You can’t tell someone a melody. You can’t tell someone a guitar solo. They’re very powerful things.”


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