Loose Fur | Born Again In The USA (Drag City)

That chemistry is obvious throughout these ten tracks: Tweedy clearly enjoys the amiable adventurousness of O’Rourke and his solid, ongoing partnership with Kotche.

Buy this CD

 

The title of Loose Fur’s second release may be a bit of a goof, and there’s definitely a certain “looseness” in their approach to music, but this trio—comprised of Wilco’s Jeff Tweedy and Glenn Kotche, and Chicago multi-instrumentalist/producer Jim O’Rourke—are serious as heck about gettin’ down to the playful business of tunemaking. Since all three of these gents have day jobs, so to speak, there’s no reason for a side project like this unless there’s purpose and pleasure in it.

And if Born Again in the USA proves anything, it’s that the value of musical chemistry should never be underestimated. That chemistry is obvious throughout these ten tracks: Tweedy clearly enjoys the amiable adventurousness of O’Rourke and his solid, ongoing partnership with Kotche. O’Rourke, for his part, seems inspired by Tweedy’s unpredictable songwriting and enthusiasm for stylistic diversity. How these songs were actually created is hard to say—all ten compositions are credited to Loose Fur, with Tweedy and O’Rourke alternating on lead vocals and lyrics. Tweedy seems totally at ease, perhaps because the stakes aren’t as high as on a Wilco record.

On the no-frills opening rocker “Hey Chicken,” the band play with the calm self-assurance of the Rolling Stones, and sound a bit like ’em, too. Tweedy’s vocals are a delight on the bright acoustic gem “The Ruling Class” (which features an infectious whistle) and the breezily arranged “Wreckroom,” a strong composition that would’ve sounded just fine on either of Wilco’s last two records. O’Rourke, a casually brilliant musician who can do wonders on both acoustic and electric guitars (as anyone whose heard his solo works like Eureka can attest), shines on the pretty acoustic number “Answers to Your Questions,” the propulsive and chord-heavy “Stupid as the Sun,” and the bracing instrumental “An Ecumenical Matter.” The band had an instrumental on their debut two years ago, also—it’s likely to become a trademark of their recordings. When they’re as pleasing as this one, why complain?

In fact, when Loose Fur serves up sparkling compositions like the piano-laden “Wanted,” in which Tweedy fairly skips for joy as he sings, why get overly analytical at all? The Fur are having a great time, and that translates to the listener. “Now gather round and check this shit out/I’ve found a simple way to keep us all devout,” sings O’Rourke on “Thou Shalt Wilt.” He’s referring to something else, but you could just as well take it as a pledge of faith in the power of musicmaking, and the communal vibe that can bond musicians to each other, as well as their audience. These men clearly feel blessed to be in each other’s creative company; you can almost sense the renewed enthusiasm they must feel when emerging from a Loose Fur session. Brother Jeff, Brother Jim, and Brother Glenn—we the faithful thank you. Praise the lord…and the mixing board.

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply