Music: Trying on My Morning Jacket

by Vincent Lee

My Morning Jacket is not what most would call a traditional rock band by any means. For years they have been known as a great and innovative band, easily distinguishable by Jim James' high pitched vocals. From their first album (The Tennessee Fire in 1999) to their latest album (Evil Urges, released last week) this has remained true. Their music is constantly developing album after album making them a very intriguing and impressive musical act.

Attempting to define My Morning Jacket by one album alone would be a gross mistake. From album to album they have remained dynamic in their sound. Their first albums dabbled a bit in alternative country (alt-country, to some) and other genres. The extreme degree of reverb and unique harmonies were particular highlights of both The Tennessee Fire and At Dawn (2001). These aspects also would be highlights of My Morning Jacket albums to come. My Morning Jacket would embrace and fully develop all of their signature elements up to this point on It Still Moves (2003). On It Still Moves they would truly define their sound on songs such as “One Big Holiday.” The band would also dabble with lengthy jams, which would become a staple in their live shows.

The band's following two albums would be somewhat experimental. Z (2005) would best be described as a combination between their already established sound and a so-called dance beat. My Morning Jacket's most recent album Evil Urges is undoubtedly their most unique yet. In more ways than one, this album is a significant departure from anything they've ever made. This is the first album where Jim James is not the only featured vocalist. But to top that, the band has reinvented its sound on Evil Urges and pressed forward further into dance rhythms. Some of this new material, oddly enough, seems comparable to Prince. However, this bizarre change was, unsurprisingly, another success.

From album to album My Morning Jacket has made rapid progressions. With Evil Urges it is obvious they do not plan to slow down anytime soon. My Morning Jacket's innovation makes them a fresh band that most fans of any general type of rock would enjoy. With the great amount of diversity and range from album to album there should be something in My Morning Jacket's catalog for everyone.

(Promotional photo of My Morning Jacket performing in Houston, TX earlier this year by Mark Jensen and made available by ATO Records. The band will continue its U.S. tour with an appearance at New York City's Radio City Music Hall on Friday, June 20. To see a video of the band playing "I'm Amazed" at SXSW in Austin, TX from its new release Evil Urges, please check below.)

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