Bobby Bare Jr. | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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Bobby Bare Jr.

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The eclectic Nashville roots rocker Bobby Bare Jr. took care to make his fine new album, The Longest Meow (Bloodshot), sound as unpolished as possible. He and a ragtag bunch of players (moonlighting from bands like My Morning Jacket, Lambchop, Clem Snide, and ...And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead) worked up the material over a few weeks, then banged out the recordings in about 11 hours. It's a winning approach: the arrangements are packed with detail--the honking saxophone commentary on "The Heart Bionic," the weedy harmony vocals on "Gun Show"--but never lose their endearingly scruffy feel. Stylistically, Bare's songs are all over the map, from the mariachi-fried honky-tonk of "Back to Blue" to the besotted shuffle of "Demon Valley," where he locates the precise midpoint between Jeff Tweedy and Paul Westerberg. It's clear that Bare is wildly talented, and this album, like his others, is a blast. But now that he's proven he can make sprawl work as a strategy, I'd love to hear him take his time and try his hand at something cohesive. Centro-Matic and David Vandervelde open. a 9 PM, Double Door, 1572 N. Milwaukee, 773-489-3160 or 312-559-1212, $12.

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