Welcome to a new feature on Each Note Secure we like to call “Reclaimed.” This feature will focus on an album of the past, maybe 30 years ago, or maybe 3 years ago. With the onslaught of new music that is thrust upon us everyday, it’s fun to look back at something we really loved and getting reintroduced to it.
Today we look back at the self titled debut from the band Loose Fur.
In 2003, things with Jeff Tweedy’s band Wilco were about as crazy as they can get. The guys had just released their monumental Yankee Hotel Foxtrot after their label dropped them and then essentially bought them and the record back after the band released it themselves. (see I Am Trying To Break Your Heart: A Film About Wilco)
But the beginnings of Loose Fur actually pre-date the YHF story. Tweedy and drummer Glenn Kotche, who later joined Wilco during the recording of YHF in 2001 along with Jim O’Rourke, who was brought in to mix YHF to form Loose Fur. The groups roots go back to 2000 when the trio collaborated for the first time. Tweedy was in New York for the Noise Pop festival and was given the choice of artists to perform with and chose O’Rourke. Jeff was a fan of Jim’s work, and had most recently been enthralled by Bad Timing, O’Rourke’s 1997 album that mostly consists of Jim playing acoustic guitar.
O’Rourke brought drummer Glenn Kotche to the party and the trio performed for the first time at the Double Door in May of 2000. The performance went so well that Tweedy suggested they record together, and the following summer they put down the six songs that would be the debut Loose Fur album.
The Wilco references are obvious because Loose Fur 2/3 Wilco, or maybe more if you count O’Rourke’s Wilco role on YHF and A Ghost Is Born. But Loose Fur was different from Wilco in many ways, and this album still stands out as an experiment that could have easily been nothing more than a demo of jam sessions, but instead turned out to be the weirder, cooler cousin of YHF.
O’Rourke’s production that won so many over on YHF is present here as well, but we get to hear Jim sing throughout the album too. In addition, there was only one overdub per song on the album as opposed to the multi-layered approach on YHF. Tweedy and O’Rourke share vocal duties on the six song jaunt and the mix of Jeff’s rusty flow combined with Jim’s honey soaked vocals made for an impeccable balance of styles. On Tweedy penned songs like “You Were Wrong” and “Laminated Cat” (a reworked version of a well known Wilco demo “Not For The Season”.) Showcasing his varied and talented writing ability and pushing the limits on tunes that would most likely have failed under the Wilco banner.
O’Rourke’s standout moment of the album has to be the song “Elegant Transaction”, a song he penned and Tweedy contributed to with backing vox. The song soars above the muck like the clouds parting temporarily to reveal a beautiful sunset before it ducks back behind it’s cover minutes later. Of course, the percussion skills of Glenn Kotche cannot be ignored either. Not only are his contributions the steading force behind this untraditional collaboration, but his ability to adjust on the fly and bring new elements to Loose Fur is what ultimately got him his job with Wilco.
Loose Fur was recently re-issued on vinyl and is a must for any Wilco fan or Jim O’Rourke fan. Especially if the last two albums have not inspired you the way YHF might have, giving this album a spin is a breath of fresh air and I know was happy to rediscover it’s merits.