By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
By Alice Laussade
By Scott Reitz
With last year's Yankee Hotel Foxtrot, Jeff Tweedy led Wilco into less-tone/more-drone terrain, determined, it seems, to record the weirdest folk songs of all time. Jim O'Rourke, on the other hand, has pared down his avant-eclectic sound in recent years, often opting for more traditional rock-guitar diatribes and sneering vocal jabs (see 2001's "Therefore, I Am": "Sorry, but I've found someone new/To spend time instead on you/I spend it with me"). So, rounded out by new Wilco drummer and O'Rourke alum Glenn Kotche as a bridge over any remaining stylistic disparities, the trio known as Loose Fur is born. The collaboration is not full of any surprises, be they in aesthetic or quality of material: Loose Fur's self-titled debut six-track full-length is fantastic and expansive and full of elliptical, collapsing guitars and elusive melodies and esoteric lyrics.
The problem: Loose Fur never really gains its own voice. The album is more a patchwork than its own flowing whole, a cut-and-paste affair that, at any given time, might call for a classic Tweedy riff or a brisk O'Rourke acoustic strum or a YHF-style outro that spirals into a chaos of torrential guitars and quickening tribal rhythms. There are, however, a handful of moments where the trio does begin to chance on something their own, showing promise for the future. Album closer "Chinese Apple" is one of those bright spots; Tweedy's low groan lightens a bit as the song builds around some gorgeous organic acoustic strums, with a "Radio Cure"-esque thump propelling it toward a gorgeous rapid-fire middle section. Another flash of promise: "You Were Wrong," a passive-aggressive shrug-off anthem injected with bitter regret and dirty bass, the album's shortest song at three-and-a-half minutes. The rest is up in the air--"Elegant Transaction" and the last minutes of "So Long" sound like standard O'Rourke, and "Laminated Cat" is a certified Wilco castoff (demoed for YHFas "Not for the Season"). Regardless, it's hard to label Loose Fur's first collection of songs as inessential when they're so damn good.
Find everything you're looking for in your city
Find the best happy hour deals in your city
Get today's exclusive deals at savings of anywhere from 50-90%
Check out the hottest list of places and things to do around your city