Tag: My Morning Jacket
As a lyricist myself, I know that one of the hardest things to do in music is to put your emotions into words. Usually the easiest things to write about are the internal struggles that you face that you feel define you, and ironically sometimes one of those struggles is figuring out how to write lyrics. That’s why, I myself am a big fan of tunes that include lines like “this song” in them. I’m a sucker for moments of self-referential clarity, and thus there’s a lot of songs I could have put on this list, but here’s my top 7 that really hit home.
#7 - Elton John – “Your Song”
Well duh, obviously this had to be on there. Bernie Taupin and the Big E wrote a shitload of killer tunes, but I always felt this one was the most deserving of its’ widespread recognition. If you don’t listen to terrestrial radio anymore, then hopefully it hasn’t been as overplayed in your mind as it has for most of normal society.
#6 – Weird Al Yankovic- “Six Words Long”
There’s probably a few Weird Al songs that fit int his category, (“Smells Like Nirvana”) but this is one of those songs that even overshadows the original in my mind sometimes. And fuck, I love that 80′s George Harrison tune too, but Al seems to do a great job of calling out the go-to repetitive chorus of any of the late greats here.
#5 – Tenacious D – “Tribute”
Sure the glory days of the D are gone, although the new Simply Jazz release is pretty fucking genius, but “Tribute” always rang a special bell in my head. It happens to the best of us: you wake up in the middle of the night with a killer new song in your head and you say to yourself, “Fuck it, I’ll remember that shit in the morning,” and then the sun rises and that tune is forever lost in the universe.
#4 – My Morning Jacket – “Slow Slow Tune”
This is my favorite track off the latest MMJ album “Circuital” and I think it’s one of Jim James’ finer lyrical moments. I love the notion of future projection used here – “You, somewhere in the future listening/ I hope the present for you is glistening.”
#3 – Built to Spill – “You Were Right”
For 10 years I tried to write this song and failed, and then I discovered Doug Martsch and realized he had already written and perfected it years before. It calls out the idiotic fall-back of saying “everything’s gonna be all right” which so many songwriters go to for some reason. Oh, shit’s crazy but it’ll be all right – yeah, we’ve got mothers to say that, we don’t need to hear our rock stars say it. The rest of the song is calls of respect for the truest, and darkest lines in popular rock history.
#2 – Wilco – “Someone Else’s Song”
This is one of the simplest, and most brilliant songs Jeff Tweedy has ever written, and it positively crushed me to the floor when he closed with it at a solo performance I saw years ago. The same chord progressions are used so much in music, over and over again, and they’ll continue that way for eons. This may be the greatest self-admittance of that fact.
#1 – Blues Traveler – “Hook”
The irony that his song became popular is the greatest thing John Popper ever pulled off in his life. The entire lyrics to the songs are about how the song is about nothing: It doesn’t matter what I say,so long as I sing with inflection
That makes you feel that I’ll convey some inner truth of vast reflection
But I’ve said nothing so far and I can keep it up as long as it take. And then of course the chorus reveals that you dig it because it uses the catchiest hook of all time – Pachelbel‘s “Canon in D Major” – The inescapable I-V-vi-iii-IV-I-IV-V – believe me, it’s the pattern to at least 3 of your favorite songs, whatever they may be.
After my recent rant on the failed solo endeavors of one of my favorite modern artists, I thought I’d express my appreciation for another who is actually doing shit the right way. Last week, My Morning Jacket‘s front-man announced his solo debut Regions of Light and Sound of God will be coming out on February 5th. And even though he’s released solo projects before under the Yim Yames moniker with Monsters of Folk and his George Harrison tribute, this one gets the official debut of his real name. I presume that’s because it’s on MMJ’s same label, ATO Records, and they presumably have some contract with James where he can’t use his own real name on other labels. Either way, the first cut “Know Til Now” is already out, so take a listen:
So unless you’re breaking up your main band, let’s learn some key lessons here from James on how to make appropriate solo music. First off, highlight your greatest attribute, which in James’ case is his instantly recognized distant-space quasi-falsetto voice. Second, make the surrounding instrumentation sound well apart from your actual band. On this track, James uses a muted drum pattern that sounds far away from anything MMJ’s Patrick Hallahan would ever play, and the main riff is obviously looping like a sample of itself – almost like you expectHova to drop a verse any second. In other words, this song sounds instantly like Jim James, and equally as instantly not like My Morning Jacket. Oh, and it’s good too! I forgot about that, part three of the solo equation is to make sure your solo music is good, or else people will just think you’re a pretentious dick-fuck who’s wanking around in a studio and thinks he can make a couple extra nickels off of it.
I’d describe how I think the tune sounds but I think James says it best: “I wanted the album to sound like it came from a different place in time. Perhaps sounding as if it were the past of the future, if that makes any sense—like a hazy dream that a fully-realized android or humanoid capable of thought might have when it reminisces about the good old days of just being a simple robot.” I dig it, and I also like that he’s continuing the same theme of future projection that he brought in on my favorite cut off of the last MMJ Circuital album, “Slow Song.” It’s good stuff, and I’m looking forward to the full release which you can order now at www.jimjames.com.
Photo courtesy of dannyclinch.com.
As usual, My Morning Jacket ripped into my inner core last Saturday. It was my first time at the dream-land venue known as Edgefield Manor just 20 minutes outside of Portland. And even though I didn’t get a chance to explore the grounds like I wanted to, (and still need to) I was positively blown away by the venue. And I’ve never seen MMJ be more comfortable on stage. You can read my full review of the show over at State of Mind: http://www.stateofmindmusic.com/entry/1569/My-Morning-Jacket/
Sneak peak though…here’s how the ending went down – A colossal “Dancefloors” seemed like it would close out the show, but was followed by an even more gargantuan “Anytime,” which itself was capped with a positively Brobdingnagian “Gideon.” Luckily, there wasn’t a 2nd encore, because I had run out of synonyms for gigantic. There’s big, magical, Kentuckian power on that stage, and it’s somehow only getting bigger.
It was also my first time hearing “Strangulation” live, and Sweet Jesus did it ever kill. I still need a better camera for these things, but I’m getting there.
50-41 – http://www.ishitmusic.com/?p=122
40-31 – http://www.ishitmusic.com/?p=124
30 – 21 – http://www.ishitmusic.com/?p=125
20) Booker T. Jones – The Road from Memphis
- With the MGs, Booker T. forged the cornerstone of instrumental soul music, and this album is by no means just a nostalgic celebration. Ideally having most of The Roots backing him up, Jones is still all about filling the pocket rather than playing crazy organ arpeggios. There’s an amazing take on Lauren Hill’s “Everything is Everything,” a killer cut with Jim James on vocals, and a crushing tune with Lou Reed called “The Bronx” which if you can imagine what it sounds like, I assure you it’s even more badass.
19) Panda Bear – Tomboy
- Five years ago Person Pitch was released, and its’ influence on the independent music scene has been enormous. Tons of young kids realized their whiny acoustic tunes could sound way cooler with massive echo, drone, and repetition; and the genre known as electronic music suddenly took on much more depth than anyone could have realized. Tomboy is a perfect continuation of this master’s craft, with a touch more focus on melody lines but still that same ‘float up to Neptune on a sunny day’ feel.
18) Tennis – Cape Dory
- Yeah, this album is definitely geared more towards the harmonic desire of my fellow Caucasians, but what do you expect from a band named Tennis? There are plenty of duos out there right now fronted by female vocals, but this husband/wife act makes it sound far more natural than the rest. Part 50’s doo-wop and part gritty roots-rock, this is the new theme music for hipsters on sail-boats who want to puke when they hear Steely Dan.
17) Beastie Boys – Hot Sauce Committee Part II
- Hi, my name’s Adam King. I’m 31 years old, and I fucking love the Beastie Boys. Sure, this isn’t their finest work but it’s still ultra-hype, has a bunch of incredible tunes, and gives credit to me wanting to wear skate-shoes until I die. Hopefully, MCA fully recovers from nasty throat cancer, and we won’t have to consider this their swan-song. Either way, it melds perfectly into the rest of their catalogue, with tunes like “Make Some Noise” being able to theoretically exist on any of their albums.
16) The Black Keys – El Camino
- It took a few albums, but The Black Keys are now officially the coolest band on the planet. Creating a thicker sound as a duo than most full bands out there, this is where the soul of rock and roll dwells these days. Despite Danger Mouse reprising his production role, this is one of the first times that an album he’s touched doesn’t sound simply like a Danger Mouse record – which is a testament to how well these guys fit together. And if you haven’t been to a strip-club in a while because you got tired of hearing Van Halen on repeat, I assure you that half the girls only dance to The Black Keys these days.
15) My Morning Jacket – Circuital
- After the rather dis-conjunct feeling that 2008’s Evil Urges left me with, I decided it was best to lessen my expectations of MMJ. Then this album dropped and they became my heroes all over again. The huge, slow build of the opening “Victory Dance,” the undeniable power of “Holdin’ on to Black Metal,” and the slow time-pod ballad “Slow Slow Tune” are 3 of my favorite tunes the band’s ever released. They are defining what the modern idea of a true rock band should be.
14) The Black Lips – Arabia Mountain
- Calling this band punk-rock is like calling Jonathan Richman punk-rock; it’s more of a mentality than it is a sonic connection. After over a decade as a band, these guys have settled into their niche of just writing cool, catchy tunes and not giving a fuck what anybody wants to call them. This is the kind of band The Peanuts Gang would be really into during their high-school years, and Arabia Mountain finds them at the top of their form.
13) Bon Iver – Bon Iver
- Regardless of the mythical hype that swirls around Justin Vernon these days, and as much as I initially tried to deny it, this album is incredible. It initially comes off as way too simple, but then you realize that it’s actually totally complex. Masterful use of different layers and incredibly melodic chord changes take what could have been an incredibly drab and boring collective of tunes, and make them incredibly thick and literally brilliant. I didn’t want to love it, but I fucking love it.
12) Danger Mouse & Daniele Luppi – Rome
- DM took 5 years to make this album, teaming up with Italian composer, Luppi, and re-assembling many of the same musicians used in the old Spaghetti Westerns like “The Good, The Bad, & The Ugly.” Essentially imagine that movie just came out, and Danger did the soundtrack and this is what you’d get. The creepy choir and dark strings, Jack White singing on a few morbid tracks, and a few with Norah Jones sounding badass for the first time in her life. This album is epic, and magical, and sadly overlooked by too many this past year. I personally thought it was gonna get nominated for at least a few Grammys.
11) Yeasayer – Live at Ancienne Belgique
- Ok, so this album was actually released a few days before 2011, but whatever, I make the rules. The tribal psych-rock of Yeasayer is presented with a whole new power here. A pristine recording from a Belgium show in the Fall of 2010, this is the album that can turn a whole different amalgamation of your friends onto this band – both head nodding hipsters and funked out post-hippies. It’s big, it bounces, it rocks, and it’s everything a great live album should be.
Okey dokey – got a few listens through on some uber-anticipated upcoming releases. These are both gonna be must-grabs.
My Morning Jacket – Circuital – Release Date: May 31st
So I gotta say, I found 2008’s Evil Urges to be somewhat of a letdown for what I was expecting out of the Kentucky boys. Shit seemed too forced, too rushed, and felt like they were taking themselves way too fucking serious. In the pantheon of MMJ tunes, most of those are gonna fall to the wayside over the years. And sure, Z is one of the most epic rock albums of the last 20 years, so following it up was no easy task, but Circuital feels a lot more like what I had anticipated Evil Urges to sound like. The sound is rawer and more live again, which it needs to be for this band. The one-two opener of “Victory Dance” into “Circuital” get things climbing and building in the same way that older MMJ songs used to tug at your heart, and luckily the album never really steps back after that. “Outta My System” isn’t gonna change your life, but it’ll make you feel satisfied if you dish out $9.99 for the album.
“Holdin On To Black Metal” is just the track that this band needed to keep themselves in the game they helped procure over the last decade. An epic and intentionally childlike backup line of vocals will make this the cut everybody will be waiting to hear live this summer. The thing has room to stretch and crush. “Slow Slow Tune” is my new favorite Jacket tune. Killer washed out track with self-referential lyrics and (Gasp!) NO reverb on Jim James’ vocals! It’s fucking awesome. Big. Heart tugger. This album’s probably gonna come in at #6 on my best of 2011 list…if I were a gambling man. Check out “Black Metal” below.
Danger Mouse & Daniel Luppi – Rome – Release Date; May 17th
Holy fucking crap…the Mouse is friggin’ untouchable. 5 years in the making, the story behind Rome is that Danger went and found the old musicians who used to play on all the Eastwood spaghetti-westerns back in the day. He then inserted his brain, added some Jack White, through in some Norah Jones in a finally badass role, and made the album of the year. Vegas should be taking odds at it 2-1 any day now. It sounds just like you’d imagine it to be, only way better. The whole album is kinda like taking the graveyard scene at the end of The Good, The Bad, & The Ugly, and then panning over to see Danger Mouse playing a little trap kit with a dusty wind blowing around him. It’s beautiful and classy, yet resoundingly bad-ass. Nobody is crafting music the way that my guy right here is, and for that I think he’s gonna get praised hard by not only the usual hip accolades for this one, but most likely by the Grammy committee as well this year. The songs are amazing, the progression is amazing, the overall emotive vibe is phenomenal. Truly a timeless classic in a time when those words are never mentioned anymore. God, the bass is absolutely disgusting on this! Check out the opening “Theme From Rome” as well as the single, “Two Against One” – both below.