Songs of the Week Surprise: Hey, Look, a New (and Free) Wilco Album

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Wilco, Star Wars (full album stream)

Wilco released a surprise free album on Thursday night. (You can grab it here.) It’s called Star Wars, and it has a cat on the cover — somehow, Ryan Adams didn’t think of this idea first. Snap judgment: This record reminds me a lot of Loose Fur, Jeff Tweedy’s experimental side project with Jim O’Rourke and Glenn Kotche — the guitars grind like candied gravel, the drums syncopate esoterically. Star Wars is likably tossed-off, shaking off any of the polish that’s come to define Wilco’s recent work. It sounds like the runoff of another, perhaps more fleshed-out LP that might still be forthcoming. But since we’re talking about Wilco, there are still plenty of well-crafted songs here. I suggest heading straight for the double-shot of “You Satellite” and “Taste the Ceiling,” the beauty and the beast at the heart of the record.

Tame Impala, “The Moment”

This has been my personal song of the summer ever since I first heard Currents back in April. Now that the album is finally out this week, I’m not as sure as some that Currents is Tame Impala’s best — the mind-shredding manic depression of Lonerism still feels like a more well-rounded meal. But Currents sure is a wonderful dessert, and “The Moment” is the delectable cherry on top.

Desaparecidos, “City on the Hill”

Just when it seemed that Conor Oberst was about to disappear into a middling Americana phase, he’s back with his delightfully rambunctious punk-rock project, Desaparecidos. I dig sensitive Conor, but pissed-off, anthems-spouting Conor is a welcome change of pace.

Houndstooth, “Borderlands”

One of the most perfect songs I heard in the first half of 2015. Never has the phrase “our burned-out love” sounded so sweet.

Failure, “Hot Traveler”

Failure’s 1996 LP Fantastic Planet is perhaps the grunge era’s most unappreciated near masterpiece. It took 19 years for the L.A. band to make a follow-up, and yet the new The Heart Is a Monster somehow sounds like it could’ve come out in 1998. I mean that as a compliment — “Hot Traveler” is a fine excuse to reopen the Buzz Bin.

Windhand, “Two Urns”

Your mid-column heavy metal smoke break, courtesy of Windhand’s awesomely heavy forthcoming LP, Grief’s Infernal Flower.

The Deslondes, “The Real Deal”

The way the Deslondes bridge garage rock, country, and bluegrass makes their self-titled debut a perfect soundtrack for soulful dirtbags and the people who clean them up in the morning.

The Kickback, “White Lodge”

This brainy Chicago band makes old-school indie rock of the best kind. “White Lodge” is a witty, nervy, and melodic dagger that exudes dread without completely giving up on the possibility of transcendence.

Nervosas, “Arcadia”

I’ve played Nervosas’s new self-titled LP every day for two weeks. Clocking in at about 25 minutes, Nervosas is loaded with goth-punk ragers that don’t skimp on the angst or sparkly guitars.

Protomartyr, “Why Does It Shake?”

This Detroit band crafts modern-day tales of urban noir better than anybody. This teaser from the forthcoming The Agent Intellect paints images of an upcoming apocalypse — false happiness rises, victims are piled high — that’s as unstoppable as the pounding drum pattern and buzz-saw guitar licks.

Sports, “Saturday”

Have a good weekend, pals!

Filed Under: Music, tame impala, Songs of the Week, The Deslondes, The Kickback, Nervosas, Failure, Houndstooth, Desaparecidos, Windhand, wilco

Steven Hyden is a staff writer for Grantland. His first book, Your Favorite Band is Killing Me, will be released in May.

Archive @ Steven_Hyden