Wilco surprises with free album ‘Star Wars’

he Force is strong with this band.

Chicago alt-rockers Wilco surprised fans Thursday night with a new album, Star Wars. Better yet: it’s free.

“Why release an album this way and why make it free?” lead singer Jeff Tweedy queried on the group’s Facebook page. “Well, the biggest reason, and I’m not sure we even need any others, is that it felt like it would be fun. What’s more fun than a surprise?”

The 11-track effort — their first since 2011 album The Whole Love — can be downloaded in its entirety on the band’s website, wilcoworld.net.

The veteran rock group formed in the mid-1990s, winning the alternative music album Grammy Award for A Ghost is Born in 2005. Led by Tweedy and bassist John Stirratt (the only remaining original members), Wilco has played the New Orleans Jazz and Shaky Knees fests so far this year. The road warriors will next head home to Chicago for Pitchfork Music Festival this weekend, with more than a dozen other dates scheduled through late September.

Star Wars, which clocks in at just 34 minutes, is streaming in full on the band’s YouTube page. It is also available on Tidal, although not (yet) on Spotify.

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