I had originally planned a 60 minute spin this evening but after this afternoon’s 11k-worth of fartlek intervals, I’m not sure that would be a good idea…particularly given I am also scheduled for a long spin tomorrow. Note to self: Spin before you run. Duly noted. But, hey, this just means I can have a little down time at the gym doing a slow, drawn yoga workout instead to soothe those hard-working, over-taxed muscles. Just the type of workout that a) I don’t get a chance to do enough of, and b) just the kind of workout I need to do more of. And that, my friends, is what I call a classic win-win. Tonight’s mellow listening stretch music then is the debut album by Loose Fur.
Loose Fur is a band comprising Wilco members Jeff Tweedy and Glenn Kotche, and often-Wilco collaborator Jim O’Rourke, who first convened together in May of 2000 in preparation for a Tweedy performance at a festival in Chicago. Tweedy was offered the opportunity to collaborate with an artist of his choosing, and he decided to work with O’Rourke. O’Rourke brought Kotche to a rehearsal session, and the trio recorded an album’s worth of songs. The trio have since released two albums, this debut album from 2003 and 2006’s ‘Born Again in the USA’, for Drag City. The band itself has only ever toured once.
The band is most noted for its influence on Wilco’s 4th album, ‘Yankee Hotel Foxtrot‘. Tweedy was unhappy with how music from the initial recording sessions for the album was sounding, resulting in a lineup change for the band. Both O’Rourke and Kotche replaced members of Wilco during the recording sessions for the album, and both contributed to the band’s recordings through 2007’s ‘Sky Blue Sky‘. Kotche, of course, still remains a member of Wilco as of 2015. Maybe calling Loose Fur a Dad Rock supergroup is a bit reaching, especially since none of its participants, aside from Tweedy, has actually helmed a major act in the traditional sense. In other words, Traveling Wilburys this ain’t…which is probably a good thing, if truth be known. Yet like the Wilburys, there is a casual nay “loose” quality to the six songs on this album that are nothing if not charming and well arranged, with the three Tweedy sung compositions being the highlights.
The album’s opener, ‘Laminated Cat‘, will be instantly recognizable to Wilco archivists as a more sedate reading of the ‘Foxtrot‘ castoff ‘Not for the Season‘, a favorite of mine. In its original incarnation the song was a somewhat generic rocker grafted with an unfortunate sub-Brian Wilson arrangement; here it’s a functional scene-setter drawn by loops of distorted guitar and gently evocative laptopery into an improbable and awesome seven-minute jam. Okay, this shit I can groove to here on the mat. Tweedy’s lyrics are mostly incidental to the tidal pull of the rhythm and O’Rourke’s otherworldly fuzz – a stoner’s recognition of time passing exponentially faster, years spent accumulating piles of books “not worth reading”.
‘Elegant Transaction‘ is next, which is a rollicking number with some delicate little banjo plucking and Brian Wilson like arrangements which was perfect for sinking deeper into my pigeon pose. And then there’s the chaotic ‘So Long‘ which evolves into, likely, my favorite track on the album ‘You Were Wrong‘. ‘Liquidation Totale‘ is cool and I’ve heard the acoustic ‘Chinese Apple‘ in solo Tweedy sets but here it take on a much more grandiose luster. It was a great listen for a great relaxing stretch session.
Now, if somebody could only explain the whole “man tights” gym trend to me please.