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Wilco Gears Up for Massive Summer Tour of North and South America

by Philip Trapp   May 23, 2016 17:30 PM EDT

Everyone's favorite alt-country-gone-psychedelic-and-back rock band, Wilco, will be trotting off on a huge tour of North and South America this summer. Promoting their latest album, Star Wars, the jaunt will include openers Angel Olsen, Kurt Vile and Lucinda Williams.

The band surprise-released Star Wars last summer, offering the digital version of the album for free on their website. Receiving rave reviews from most publications, many critics described the album as Wilco's best since their defining 2001 masterpiece, Yankee Hotel Foxtrot.

In an enlightening interview with frontman Jeff Tweedy, the singer-songwriter explained his thought process behind the artwork and title of the band's recent release. Speaking to Rolling Stone, Tweedy discussed the album cover's cat painting that sparked the album's moniker:

"It's kind of an extension of the thought process behind, I don't know, staying in touch with some sort of wild energy as much as possible and some sort of an irreverence. But that painting of that cat hangs in the kitchen at the [Wilco] loft, and every day I'd look at it and go, 'You know, that should just be the album cover.' Then I started thinking about the phrase 'Star Wars' recontextualized against that painting -- it was beautiful and jarring."

Wilco formed in the early '90s from the ashes of revered alt-country pioneers, Uncle Tupelo (Tupelo singer Jay Farrar went on to form Son Volt). Since then, the band have released nine albums in addition to two volumes of reimagined Woody Guthrie songs with Americana stalwart Billy Bragg.

Especially in light of Prince's recent opioid-involved death, it's hard not to remember former Wilco member Jay Bennett -- the talented multi-instrumentalist who died in 2009 from an overdose of the opioid-derived drug Fentanyl.

Bennett was an important contributor to Wilco's mid-period works, playing and producing on the albums Being There and Summerteeth before his dismissal during Yankee Hotel Foxtrot over various production disputes. The drama was captured on film in Sam Jones' illuminating 2002 documentary, I Am Trying to Break Your Heart: A Film About Wilco.

Below, watch a Wilco performance on KEXP.

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