Several years ago—somewhere between 2007’s Sky Blue Sky and 2009’s Wilco (The Album), let’s say—Jeff Tweedy and his band Wilco faced a new charge. The music, breezy and comfortable and so far removed from the electronic squiggles of 2002’s Yankee Hotel Foxtrot, still amply satisfied legions of the band’s followers. But among critics and some fans as well, it was attracting a new descriptor. It was being pegged as “dad rock.”
No one quite grasps what the term means, least of all the many dads I interviewed about it last Father’s Day. (Succinctly, one Urban Dictionary entry describes it as “music that Boomers would listen to and/or write themselves,” adding: “Inherently uncool.”) But no matter. Tweedy, ever unflappable, kept calm and publicly defended the label. And now he has embraced it anew, embodying dad rock as fully as any rock star has by literally recording an album with his son, 18-year-old drummer Spencer, as “Tweedy.”
Titled Sukierae, the result is out this week. Already, it has drawn the usual stock of jokes.
But the music—is it really so dad-friendly? I performed an experiment: I asked my dad to invite several of his fellow music-liking dad-friends over to the house, where I would hold a dad-themed listening party and see how the dad-rock focus group responded.
So, but, you know—what if you liked Wilco before you were a father? What then? God, I wish I hadn’t read this four days after turning 30.