Wilco has taken all manner of strange turns in its 21 years, from alt-country stalwarts to noise-pop progressivists to its current incarnation as dad-rock standard bearers. Today the band took one of its strangest and most delightful twists to date, dropping a free full-length album on its fans called Star Wars. Downloading it requires offering an email address, which signs you up for the band's mailing list.
The 11-track, 33-minute record, whose cover is represented by a painting of a white cat, finds the band picking up more or less where it left off with 2011's The Whole Love, which is to say rootsy, feel-good, backyard barbecue jams with just a hint of the "American Radiohead" weirdness that made 2002's Yankee Hotel Foxtrot an enduring classic of the young century. At first listen, the record does not appear to have anything in common with the film version / cinematic universe of Star Wars, besides maybe having very good SEO.
Anyway, that's what you should tell your dad when you text him to say that Wilco has a new album out and it's called Star Wars and has a cat on it. Offer to help him downloading it onto his iPhone. You'll make an old man very happy.
Update, July 17th, 10:32AM ET: Wilco has also made the entire album available to stream on YouTube.