June 29, 2009

My Morning Jacket: A Retrospective

Niche markets dominate today’s music. In the current iTunes climate, everything is heavily categorized so that consumers can be identified and connected with genre-specific advertisements. Occasionally these sub-categorizations can be informative for the listener (Italo-disco), but most of the time they read like belabored nonsense (post-punk-new-wave) that can polarize and limit a band and its audience. Reaching and appealing to a mass audience has never been harder. But there's one thing that helps: defying categorization.

Metal heads, hipsters, hippies, classic rock aficionados and a host of other music fans have been drawn to Louisville, Ky.’s My Morning Jacket for one reason: it is genre-blending, all-encompassing rock and roll. The no-frills type you can fill a small room with or a giant outdoor arena.

From their early longhaired days playing basements and small clubs to recent tours headlining festivals, My Morning Jacket has delivered a constant mash of hair-raising guitar solos, unworldly vocals from Jim James’s reverb-drenched falsetto, and some of the best songwriting and musicianship of the past decade. Here's how ten years add up.

My Morning Jacket
Evil Urges (2008) — “I’m Amazed”
The band's most successful release is also it's most bizarre. While it contains the accessible and anthemic rock of "I'm Amazed," it also features moments of hilarious drug-infused paranoia ("Highly Suspicious") and the Prince-meets-Grateful Dead funk of "Evil Urges." The band proves one thing: great art doesn't have to be serious. My Morning Jacket - Evil Urges

My Morning Jacket
Z (2005) — "Anytime" (Okonokos live version)
The breakthrough record. The band reaches new heights of success after experimenting on its signature sound and adding two new band members. On "Off The Record" guitar chords never sounded so big; "Wordless Chorus" is a soulful R&B jam; "Gideon" takes listeners to a ethereal daydreaming haze; and "Anytime" quotes Madonna to a head-banging beat. My Morning Jacket - Z

My Morning Jacket It Still Moves (2003) — “One Big Holiday” (Okonokos live version)
The band's best and most complete album. From the haunting acoustic masterpiece "Golden" to the beautifully textured "Mahgeetah," epic guitar rock of "Run Thru," and the signature live barn-burner "One Big Holiday," the record's as dense as it expansive: a soulful rock lullaby that won't be easily put to sleep. My Morning Jacket - It Still Moves

At Dawn At Dawn (2001) — “Phone Went West” (Celebración live version)
The reverb record. Jim James and company's signature sound comes to full fruition with the reverb dial on ten. "The Way That He Sings" and "Bermuda Highway" sound like nothing else in music: they're original, experimental, and catchy. But it's the epic seven-minute reggae-infused "Phone Went West" that becomes a staple for the band and its live shows. My Morning Jacket - At Dawn

My Morning Jacket
The Tennessee Fire (1999) — "I Will Be There When You Die"
The beginning. The textures and instrumentation aren't yet fully developed, but the songwriting is already there. "I Will Be There When You Die" is James's first perfect song. Written for his girlfriend at the time, it's full of heartbreaking melodies and an unforgettable lyrical narrative that could work just as well as poetry or a short piece of prose. "Evelyn Is Not Real" and "War Begun" aren't far behind. My Morning Jacket - The Tennessee Fire

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  1. Hey nice job.

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  3. The band's most victorious release is also its most strange. While it contains the available & anthemia rock of "I'm shocked," it also features instants of very funny drug-infused paranoia. Office shoes