See, if going to church was always such an ass-kicking rock experience, then I might go more often. Or at all.
Photo by Frank Yang
Photo by Frank Yang
The tapings for season three of Beautiful Noise got off to an unbelievable start last night as My Morning Jacket rolled into town for their first Toronto show in almost two years and considering they played a hall that held but a fraction of the audience they'd normally draw, I don't know that you could consider their touring debts to the city paid. But that's more a complaint for those who weren't inside. For those of us who were... wow.
But with their absence from the stages of Toronto and the fact that they hadn't released a new studio record in almost three years, My Morning Jacket were suffering from a bit of out of sight, out of mind syndrome for me at least. Which is to say, I'd kind of forgotten how much I liked them and how incredible they are in live performance. Consider me reminded. Ignoring the fact that their show would likely be edited down considerably for broadcast, the band blew through a two hour show that didn't even feel half as long. In addition to all the gems you'd want to hear from their earlier records, they also previewed a fair number of tracks from their next long-player Evil Urges, which isn't out until June 10.
While it's obviously premature to assess the new material from a single listen in a live context, the impression most of it gave was that it was a step back from the determined experimentalism that made 2005's Z initially challenging but ultimately rewarding and a return to the more straight-ahead rock of It Still Moves and At Dawn... but note that I said most. They've still got a few hard lefts in their pocket as songs like the pure '80s electro-funk of "Highly Suspicious" would attest.
But all songs, new and old, were marked by the band's unbelievable musicianship and Jim James' showmanship - the man was a dervish of hair and Flying Vs, whether pogoing around the stage, trying out some dance moves or trying to invade the audience at the show's close (thank goodness for that velvet rope keeping everyone safe). And that encore! I thought they were going to finish with their haunting reading of Z closer "Dondante", but then stepped up with a scorching "One Big Holiday" and when I thought they couldn't top that... they did, with "Anytime". Unbelievable.
I remember being a bit confused when Magnet ran a My Morning Jacket cover story in their Fall 2007 issue - they were a year on from the release of their live record Okonokos and nothing had been announced about their new album. There didn't seem to be any context, any reason. Now, after last night's show, I understand. My Morning Jacket are awesome, and that's really all the reason you ever need.
Jim James talks to MTV about what to expect from the new record. The above photo comes from their October 2005 show at the Guvernment.
MP3: My Morning Jacket - "Off The Record"
MP3: My Morning Jacket - "One Big Holiday"
MP3: My Morning Jacket - "Lowdown"
MP3: My Morning Jacket - "Bermuda Highway"
MP3: My Morning Jacket - "The Bear"
MP3: My Morning Jacket - "Evelyn Is Not Real"
Video: My Morning Jacket - "Off The Record"
MySpace: My Morning Jacket
Pitchfork reports that My Morning Jacket have a new labelmate in Liz Phair, who will try to salvage whatever remains of her career with a re-release of Exile In Guyville in deluxe format on June 24. It'll contain a handful of bonus tracks and a DVD doc about the making of the record.
Le Blogotheque celebrates the release of R.E.M.'s new album Accelerate today with not one, not two, not three, not four but five Take-Away Shows. Okay, in hindsight, that may not have been the best device to lead into that bit of information. Entertainment Weekly assembles a video history of the band and The Huffington Post talks to Michael Stipe. The critical response to Accelerate, by the way, is pretty solid.
PopMatters follows The Hold Steady around, writes about it.
Wolf Parade's new record is out June 17 and has the Pitchfork-disavowed title of Kissing The Beehive. Oh come on, maybe they're just Jonathan Carroll fans. If I recall, I particularly liked that book.
The Independent talks to DeVotchKa frontman Nick Urata.
Good news for those who'd given up waiting on ex-Beulah frontman Miles Kurosky's solo record - Hard To Find A Friend has an interview with the man and while there's nothing as concrete as a title or release date, it's still in progress. Via You Ain't No Picasso.
Some show announcements big and small. Jim White will be at the Horseshoe on May 11 in support of his new record Transnormal Skiperoo.
Justin Townes Earle - son of Steve - brings his burgeoning solo career to the Horseshoe on May 25. His debut record is The Good Life, Exclaim! has a review and an interview, The Desert Sun just an interview.
The Raconteurs, who tried to be all sneaky deaky about the release and the very existence of their new record Consolers Of The Lonely, will be at the Ricoh Coliseum on June 5 with The Black Lips as support.
Olympic Island, which broke a streak of Summer music mini-fests last year, will again play host to a big to-do (besides V Fest) on June 7 with a lineup featuring Death Cab For Cutie, Stars, Rogue Wave and Young Galaxy. Tickets for the event, which is billed as "sponsorship-free", are $49.50 plus a $6 ferry fee. Death Cab's new album Narrow Stairs is out May 13.