The Minus 5, first begun in 1993 by the Young Fresh Fellows’ Scott McCaughey as a high-wattage side project (McCaughey often works with R.E.M.’s Peter Buck, as well as fellas from Wilco), has always felt like an indie rock geek’s wet dream. Over the course of a decade, McCaughey has kept a loose assemblage of artists and steadily released a stream of quirky, atmospheric records, earning critical acclaim and a fervent following. The Gun Album is more of the same, propulsive rock that’s stripped of pretensions, infused with a smart-ass sense of humor, and genuinely engaging. Quick jangle-pop sketches which feel like precisely crafted demos more than a collection of songs assembled for an album, The Gun Album is rife with throwaway bon mots (“I had six white Russians tonight and two of them were people” or “Show me where the lines connect and I’ll parallelogram you to the ground”) and gritty, country-flavored guitar work from Wilco’s John Stirratt and Jeff Tweedy. But those aren’t the only indie luminaries that help load McCaughey’s Gun: The Decemberists’ Colin Meloy, Wilco’s Glenn Kotche, Peter Buck, John Wesley Harding, and Mike Jorgenson also contribute. Call it a Traveling Wilburys for the Pitchfork crowd; wry, rollicking, and irresistible, The Gun Album hits the bulls-eye.
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