Wilco side-project Loose Fur release self-titled record

Mike Schoeck

Jeff Tweedy appears the least concerned that his band Wilco got snubbed for any Grammy nominations for the Chicago group’s most colossally artistic and diverse record to date, “Yankee Hotel Foxtrot.” Currently making the rounds down under in Australia and New Zealand, Tweedy and company had a monumental year for 2002.

With drummer Glenn Kotche, Tweedy also put a score together for Ethan Hawke’s directorial debut, “Chelsea Walls,” one of the few sufficiently brilliant independent films of the past year. Released January 28, Tweedy is back with a collection of “Foxtrot” outtakes as an abbreviated trio, Loose Fur.

The self-titled release on Drag City features drummer Glenn Kotche and producer slash noise-rock guru Jim O’Rourke on various instruments. Much like its moniker and the singer’s shaggy mish-mashed mane, the six tracks of the Wilco side-group break art-rock down to the verve of acoustic guitar and lyrics, and percussion with a layer of atmospheric electronics. Aside from solo acts and appearing on KCRW’s “Morning Becomes Eclectic” series, this is choice Wilco, organic and unplugged.

“Laminated Cat,” a formerly improvised ditty Tweedy penned between recent tours and studio time, called either “The Unified Theory of Everything” or “It’s Not for the Season.” Tweedy rambles about seasons and lovers coming and going over a resonating guitar and buzzing hi-hat, snare and short wave.

“You Were Wrong” has the splendid folk-roots melody of a rich “Foxtrot” outtake, and subtly dissonant tones and odd textures synonymous with veteran indie bands like Pavement and Sonic Youth.

“Chinese Apple” is distinctly rich in folk and the most perfect end-credit roll call for Wilco’s “Foxtrot” sessions. Leading with Tweedy’s impeccable and timeless acoustic licks and day-dreamy lyrics, he adds lasting words from “Foxtrot’s” pop-rock gem, “Heavy Metal Drummer:” “Unlock my body and move myself at last / Into warm liquid / Flowing blowing glass / Classical music blasting masks / the ringing in my ears.”

O’Rourke pens and sings “Elegant Transaction” with Tweedy on refrain, almost as an elevator music sounding take from a cramped studio session. “So Long,” also sung by O’Rourke, is a stark and disarrayed nine minutes of finger-picked guitar amid impromptu thrown-in drum crashes and dishonest electric noodles.

Loose Fur is a rough and tumbling, shaggy ensemble of three budding musicians at the pinnacle of American college rock, recommended for fans of Pavement split groups Preston School of Industry, Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks, as well as fans of Ryan Adams, Sonic Youth and Wilco.

Wilco has a new EP slated for a Springtime release. In addition to their return to the heartland will lead off with a few tour dates beginning April 22 in Lexington, Kentucky. Among the homely tracks on the disc are new tracks “Woodgrain,” “A Magazine called Sunset” and “Bob Dylan’s 49th Beard.”