My Morning Jacket

Author: Janet



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Although they first emerged in 1998 as devotees of Neil Young‘s country-tinged classic rock, My Morning Jacket steadily widened their sound throughout the following decade, embracing everything from neo-psychedelia and Americana to funk, prog, and reggae. By the time Evil Urges arrived in mid-2008, they had successfully molded themselves into Kentucky’s answer to Wilco, with unexpected detours and sonic experiments adding complexity to the band’s alt-country roots.

My Morning Jacket’s de facto leader is vocalist/guitarist Jim James (birth name: James Olliges), who founded the band in 1998 alongside his cousin Johnny Quaid (guitar), Two-Tone Tommy (bass), and J. Glenn (drums). Headquartered in James’ hometown of Louisville, KY, the young group released its debut on Darla Records in 1999, with keyboardist Danny Cash joining the lineup one year later. Although The Tennessee Fire only found modest success in the U.S., the debut effort became a genuine smash overseas, particularly in the Netherlands. My Morning Jacket responded by launching a tour in Europe, where they were featured in a Dutch documentary film and received accolades from the Dutch music press. A Christmas EP was released in 2000, but it was My Morning Jacket’s follow-up effort — 2001′s At Dawn — that helped exponentially expand their audience at home. Jim James recorded his vocals in a grain silo, and the resulting reverb-heavy sound became a hallmark of the band’s early work. Upon the album’s stateside release, James’ best friend from childhood, Patrick Hallahan, was enlisted as the band’s new drummer.

My Morning Jacket maintained a grueling tour schedule throughout the early 2000s, hitting the road with such acts as Guided by Voices, the Doves, and The Foo Fighters. They also made the jump to a major label (RCA/ATO Records) for the 2003 release of It Still Moves, but the frantic pace had already taken an irreparable toll on Quaid and Cash.

Tired and burnt out, the members announced their departure in January 2004. Keyboardist Bo Koster and guitarist Carl Broemel joined soon after, and the group continued to tour as a unified five-piece. My Morning Jacket’s energy remained, and their sound took an experimental turn on 2005′s Z. Produced by John Leckie, the album did away with the heavy reverb that blanketed the band’s earlier efforts, while the addition of synthesizers and reggae influences introduced audiences to My Morning Jacket’s experimental side. Tracks from Z were also present on Okonokos, a live album released in 2006, and the band’s sonic experimentations continued with Evil Urges. Arriving in June 2008, the album showcased James’ expanding vocal range, his bandmates’ fascination with Prince, and My Morning Jacket’s eagerness to challenge the boundaries of alternative country-rock. – Andrew Leahey

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