Loose Fur 

Born Again in the USA

Loose Fur (a trio featuring Wilco's Jeff Tweedy and Glenn Kotche, along with veritable renaissance man Jim O'Rourke) first emerged with an underwhelming 2003 debut that couldn't even approach each individual's best work. On this second go-round, though, the threesome sounds reborn — playful, caustic, and energetic enough to avoid merely splitting its musical differences straight down the middle. O'Rourke's penchant for soft rock and Tweedy's now-standard cracked folk melodies are nicely embellished with chunky power-pop chords, proggish rhythm shifts, and sardonic lyrics that, while cringe-worthy in parts, make it obvious the album's title isn't just a clever pun. Rather, over the course of tracks like "The Ruling Class" and "Thou Shalt Wilt," the trio envision Christ as a crack-smoker and the Ten Commandments as nothing more than an impediment to sleeping late. Born Again in the USA is still far from seamless, but the players' collective leaps of faith challenge the boundaries Loose Fur's debut unwisely obeyed; this experiment thus rises to a cut above your average side project.

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