Wilco – Star Wars Wilco – Star Wars

Wilco - Star Wars (2015)

Wilco – Star Wars (2015)

I heard the 9th studio album by Wilco was a surprise release. Then I heard the band debuted the record live at the Pitchfork Music Festival to a frothing hometown crowd. Then I heard the record was called Star Wars but had nothing to do with Disney property.

Needless to say, I was intrigued.

The opener, “EKG” is a minute-long song packed with experimental noise riffage. It’s so left-field it’s hard to even know it’s a Wilco album you just threw on. In fact, it doesn’t even really sound like Wilco until track number six, “Taste the Ceiling.” The only giveaway is Tweedy’s voice.

Much of this record, however, relies on guitarist, Nels Cline, letting loose and experimenting with some serious guitar pedal play. It’s rich with super fuzzy, phase shifting effects over 70’s riffs. The theme of 70’s guitar sounds are especially clear on vaguely titled lead-offs “More…” and “Random Name Generator.”

“The Joke Explained” evokes The Velvet Underground so earnestly that Tweedy even begins to sound like Lou Reed. By the time “Taste the Ceiling” finally does come around its so classic Wilco, I thought I’d accidentally started listening to Summer Teeth.

In fact, there are only a couple of other songs where Wilco sounds like Wilco on this entire album: “Where Do I Begin” and maybe “Magnetized.” But that’s what’s cool about Star Wars. After listening to it while considering the context of its surprise release, intriguing title, and impromptu debut to hometown fans, it actually makes a lot of sense. When you’ve done as many albums as Wilco, you’ve got to take a break to keep from recycling your sound. You’ve got to keep it fresh and fun. You’re got to experiment. Props to them for delivering an unexpected summer refreshment to a thirsty fan base with such style.

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