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What I’m listening to this week: My Morning Jacket

May 26, 2009

Evil Urges – 2008

Ever since I heard 2005’s Z, My Morning Jacket has been one of my current favorite bands.  Led by shaggy-haired guru, frontman Jim James, My Morning Jacket has been completely devoted to reinventing their sound and defying genre for the last several years.  And when a band is as multi-faceted as this, there’s no reason for them not to.  I’ve seen them twice in concert; once at Stubb’s BBQ, and once at an ACL taping, and both times I was utterly blown away at their musical prowess and capability, and their sheer confidence in their own vision for the band.

Evil Urges doesn’t disappoint, showing off all the best elements of My Morning Jacket.  First of all, Jim James has an incredibly versatile and strong voice, which can veer from undoubtedly rock to funk to alt-country with ease and conviction.  Secondly, the band itself is musically diverse, following the songwriting while never sacrificing loudness, dirtiness, or sometimes, just plain weirdness.  The opening song, “Evil Urges” presents a philosophy of sorts, with James crooning in falsetto against an electric lead: “It ain’t evil baby if it ain’t hurtin’ anybody”.  The next track, “Touch Me I’m Going to Scream Pt. 1” picks up a bit from the psychedelic water-testing of Z, utilizing a Flaming Lips inspired bass line and space noises.  Following those two songs, “Highly Suspicious” still manages to be absolutely brilliant.  It’s one of the most innovative, funkadelic, crazy, and kick-ass rock songs I’ve heard in recent memory, and by the time James hits that killer falsetto note (especially live!), you’re agape.

After the 1-2-3 punch of the opening, the band cools down somewhat with the alt-country “I’m Amazed”, the oddly and unabashedly lovely “Thank You Too”, and the particularly folksy “Sec Walkin”.  “Librarian” is probably the closest to a simple acoustic tale that My Morning Jacket has and certainly a great example of James’ lyric writing.  “Aluminum Park” and “Remnants” fill in the alternative rock slot on the album, seeming like a departure from the first half of the album, but because it’s My Morning Jacket, it’s somehow distinct.  “Smokin’ From Shootin” is probably one of the best written songs on the album and is filled to the brim with heartbreaking nostalgia right before the finale: “Touch Me I’m Going to Scream Pt. 2” and “Good Intentions” which picks the psychedelia back up and sends Evil Urges out with a bang of raucousness.

No other band could pull anything close to this off with such enviable results.  Evil Urges is a MUST listen and My Morning Jacket is a must-see band.  Get it!

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