The 'My Morning Jacket' Conundrum...
Sorry, I didn't mean to spoil any "Endless Summer" fantasies, but October is actually of importance this year because the Kentucky bred My Morning Jacket are playing 5 nights at Terminal 5 (worst venue in Manhattan.) Regardless of the venue's unpleasant qualities, Not only are "The Jacket" playing 5 nights, but they're doing entire albums each night, in the order they were released. WHAT?! If that weren't enough, they're ALSO going to throw in additional songs AND covers from that album's time period...COME..ON!
In the past, 8 years or so?, this band, and maybe more specifically their lead singer, Jim James (now going by Yim Yames) has become one of my favorite songwriting mediums...Maybe one day I'll tell you a story about how he came to one of my band's gigs to support my guitar player and I shit the bed, producing one of, if not THE largest cringe memory in my brain. Story told, all you need to know right there. (I'm glad to see after a month off from posting, I still have the ability to digress.)
Now I know the "doing an entire album live" isn't a groundbreaking idea, it's been done and done and done, but who cares? that's the beauty of this concept, as long as the band doing it has the catalogue to pull it off, it's a great thing...and My Morning Jacket definitely has the catalogue to pull it off. With that, I present to you, "The Conondrum"...
Here are the show dates, the albums and, I'll try to keep short, my reasons for NEEDING to be there:
Editors Note: if you don't know who this band is, please use the below as a guide to buying their records, then buy tickets to all 5 shows...
10/18 – The Tennessee Fire
This album is some of the most stripped down My Morning Jacket you can get. So if you're into the quieter side, this would be a good place to start, BUT don't count out the others...They haven't released a single record that didn't contain something so beautiful & well written that you want to sob in utter jealousy. I've heard that this was mostly Jim James as far as recording went, but I can't confirm or deny. Listening in comparison to the others, you can tell this is less produced and much more "organic," but that's not to say it's any less influential. You still get the feeling these guys are a rock band with a great songwriter at the helm. (Choice tracks: Evelyn Is Not Real, The Bear, Nashville To Kentucky, I Will Be There When You Die, Heartbreakin' Man, If All Else Fails)
10/19 – At Dawn
2 of my favorite MMJ tracks appear here, although I became most familiar with them as part of an acoustic release and so when I eventually heard the studio recordings it was hard for me to adjust... "Bermuda Highway" & "Hopefully" SO DAMN GOOD. This record has a great production quality to it, which is basically the use of "forest sounds"...I dont know enough about how it was made or why, but I love how you can hear the crickets and such, really adds to the song in my opinion. (Other choice tracks: Phone Went West, Honest Man, Lowdown, The Way That He Sings)
10/21 – It Still Moves
When news of these shows broke, this is the one my gut told me i needed to see...again.
This is the record that introduced me to the band back in sayyyyy 2003? Jess? thoughts? (jess introduced us) I remember seeing them at Bowery Ballroom, I remember Jim James resembling Cousin It on a humid day and not once did you see his face during the show. He sang through his hair. The band did a lot of head banging, but the music wasn't death metal, so I was OK with all of that. This album definitely put My Morning Jacket on the map with "One Big Holiday" being THE song mentioned in all the magazines. I got a PASTE magazine sampler with that track on it and I remember saying "I've heard of these guys!" Again, as always, the softer stuff is what appeals to me most and so when Jim James came out with just an acoustic at this Bowery show and played "Golden"...I was sold. Not that the rest of the show wasn't entertaining and great, nothing compared to hearing the words "People always told me, that bars are dark and lonely, and talk is often cheap and filled with air" come from this amazing head of hair. SOLD.
This album contains some of the sweetest sounding electric twang and spacey solos you can dream up. Im not lying. Compared with some beautiful lyrics, I can honestly say "It Still Moves" is the MMJ album that most directly influenced ME as a musician.
Does it make sense to even tell you which tracks, easily 80%, are my favorite? probably not, but I will:
(Golden, Rollin' Back, I Will Sing You Songs, Just One Thing, Mahgeeta, Easy Morning Rebel, Dancefloors, One Big Holiday, One In The Same)
If you're going to go to ONE of the 5 shows, I'd suggest this one or the last, "Evil Urges"...this one is a GUARANTEED epic night...there's no question about it.
10/22 – New York City, NY – Z
Now that I had been formally introduced to great new music, when "Z" came out, I was witnessing a band growing. These guys went into the studio and tried some new things, they were obviously getting a little more "soul" influence, and whoever was producing decided to cut the songs a little shorter. Sure there are still a lot of extended jams, which are not a bad thing, coming from a guy who can't stand those types of things. For some reason, I love hearing it from them...just not all the time. Some of the shorter songs here are just straight up good time rock and roll ("What A Wonderful Man," "Lay Low," "Off The Record") but the stuff I think I was mostly interested in was the stuff they were branching out with, like "Gideon" & "Wordless Chorus" which has a very cool wordless chorus and funky vibe to it, plus Jim James going off at the end.
best line? thanks for asking... "Deep in My heart, that's where the knot comes loose" from "Knot Comes Loose"
This is guaranteed to be a fun show, and just based off of the proper math, you're probably going to get more additional tracks and some cool covers just because it's the shortest MMJ album as far as content is concerned.
10/23 – Evil Urges and beyond!
Sonically, this record has the best production. Not surprising, as it's the most recent, but I truly enjoy listening to "Evil Urges" on really nice headphones. You just hear things that are cool. Like the extra sustain during the filthy solo on "Im Amazed" or the bottom end on "Smokin' From Shooting" AND "Touch Me Im Going To Scream pt.2"...They took the funk/soul thing they were doing on "Z" and incorporated that into the title track here which is nonstop falsetto from Jim...and pretty sick, with a great guitar breakdown in the middle.
This album served it's purpose for putting these guys in a new bracket creatively and catapulting them to a new level of recognition. I think the best thing it's done, however, is set them up for what's to come. Who knows? There is a Yim Yames solo record on the way, which judging by my love for the slower, acoustic songs, will be custom made to my liking. So I guess it's up in the air right now. But this is an exciting time as a fan & listener of any band, when you know the next record is going to be amazing. BRING IT ON MMJ!
There you have it....Choose wisely, which would be all 5 if you have it in the budget. Either way, buy the records and enjoy what's been a great catalogue of work by a great band.
If you're asking yourself why this is a conundrum, don't take me so seriously...but also, the twist is that I will most likely not go to ANY, as the show dates grow nearer and my money tree battles this horrendous NYC summer.
Self Promotion: I'll be doing a FREE solo set at Waltz-Astoria, Friday July 30th - 8pm sharp! come by, check me out and donate to my MMJ concert fund.
Thanks for reading,