40 Reasons to Love Chicago

Because there’s a Wilco for everyone

Five spinoff groups/collaborations by the members of the beloved band

Wilco
Wilco in 2009

 

FOR JAZZ LOVERS
The Nels Cline Singers

When the guitarist Nels Cline joined Wilco in 2004, he was already an acclaimed jazz player (Nels Cline Trio) and an indie-rock favorite (courtesy of his recordings with Mike Watt of the Minutemen and Thurston Moore of Sonic Youth). Currently, his most active side project is the Nels Cline Singers. The album Initiate, released this past April, offers a solid point of entry for jazz purists and new fans.

FOR FANS OF INTRICATE HARMONIES
The Autumn Defense

Wilco bassist John Stirratt and multi-instrumentalist Patrick Sansone teamed up to form this sunnier, lazier version of Wilco. The resulting ’60s-inspired sound is light and laced with harmonies, with the warm, fuzzy feeling of an old tube amplifier. Their fourth album, scheduled for release in November on Yep Roc, will keep the Autumn Defense touring for now. Catch them November 20th at Lincoln Hall.

FOR FOLK AFICIONADOS
Loose Fur

Loose Fur formed in 2000 when Chicago’s Noise Pop Festival invited Jeff Tweedy to perform with any musician he wanted. He picked Jim O’Rourke, whose solo work he admired, and O’Rourke brought along the drummer Glenn Kotche (who has since become a permanent member of Wilco). Loose Fur released two albums, in 2003 and 2006, that showcase a flowing but intricate pop sound.

FOR TOE-TAPPING-POP ENTHUSIASTS
Pronto

The pianist Mikael Jorgensen formed Pronto in 2000, before he joined Wilco, with the percussionist Greg O’Keeffe and mutual friend Chris Girard. The project fizzled, but Jorgensen has since re-formed the band with O’Keeffe and a rotating cast of musicians. Their latest album, All Is Golden, lands on the jangly side of rock ’n’ roll, with bright melodies and laid-back vocals.

FOR THE AMBIENT SOUL
On Fillmore

Glenn Kotche’s side project with the bassist Darin Gray is less about songs and more about soundscapes. Kotche and Gray layer field recordings of the environments around their homes with minimal percussive and string elements. The slightly eerie results are showcased on four albums and in a handful of short films and soundtracks.

 

Photograph: Chris Strong

Check back frequently for more reasons to love Chicago.

 

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