Over the years MMJ has evolved into one of those bands that lives with you, and evolves. They can be uplifting, hypnotic, joyful, frustrating, sweeping and epic, and sometimes lazy. But they have come to define a sound all their own, largely due to Jim James’ soaring vocals.
Circuital adds another layer to MMJ’s sound. This one makes me want to take a drive or toss some bags with a cold beer in my hand. It’s a winner, and will be a featured addition to my summer soundtrack.
(Video included) Dan Auerbach, front man for The Black Keys, is touring to promote his first solo album, Keep it Hid. On Friday, March 6 he made a stop at The Metro in Chicago to play in front of a sold-out crowd. Simply put, the show rocked. By far, it’s one of the best shows around of the early 2009 season.
He led off with “Trouble Weighs a Ton,” a slow, back-country sounding tune that immediately signals a sound departure from the heavy blues of The Black Keys. But from there, Auerbach led the crowd into the meat of Keep it Hid, playing the ska-inspired but blues-based “I Want Some More.” It’s heavy but clean, scratching the surface of what’s to follow. The set included the aptly-named “The Prowl” with its stalking rhythm, “Mean Monsoon” and its quirky beat, the heartfelt “Goin’ Home,” “My Last Mistake,” “Heartbroken, In Disrepair” and just about every other song from the new record. There’s a sound emerging from Keep it Hid that I haven’t heard before. It’s blues, it’s rock and there’s some reggae thrown into some of the underlying beats. It all comes together seamlessly, and it sounds very good.
Seeing Auerbach on stage with a full supporting band – Hacienda, including My Morning Jacket percussionist Patrick Hallahan – I can’t help but be reminded of Jack White’s transition from The White Stripes to The Raconteurs. It’s clear that while The Black Keys showcases Auerbach’s unique style, his solo effort is a glimpse of what he’s really capable of as a musician. He stays true to his blues roots and his style, but it’s a richer, more complex sound. He has said that The Black Keys aren’t going to quit making music, and that’s a good thing. That said, go out and see this show if at all possible. I’d see him again tomorrow if I could. I want some more.
Below is video from the show, of “Heartbroken, In Disrepair.” It’s a little shaky at times, because I was having trouble staying still. Click “HQ” for best quality. Enjoy. Upcoming tour dates are below the video. And you can visit Dan Auerbach’s MySpace page to hear the entire new album.
|Nov 5 2009||8:00P||Newport Music Hall||Columbus, Ohio|
|Nov 6 2009||8:00P||The Majestic Theatre||Detroit, Michigan|
|Nov 7 2009||8:00P||Phoenix Concert Theatre||Toronto|
|Nov 8 2009||8:00P||Le National||Montreal|
|Nov 9 2009||8:00P||The Paradise||Boston|
|Nov 11 2009||8:00P||Webster Hall||New York, New York|
|Nov 12 2009||8:00P||Theatre of the Living Arts||Philadelphia, Pennsylvania|
|Nov 13 2009||8:00P||Sonar||Baltimore, Maryland|
|Nov 14 2009||8:00P||Cat’s Cradle||Chapel Hill, North Carolina|
|Nov 16 2009||8:00P||The Orange Peel||Asheville, North Carolina|
|Nov 17 2009||8:00P||Variety Playhouse||Atlanta, Georgia|
|Nov 18 2009||8:00P||House of Blues||New Orleans, Louisiana|
|Nov 20 2009||8:00P||Minglewood Hall||Memphis, Tennessee|
|Nov 21 2009||8:00P||Cannery Ballroom||Nashville, Tennessee|
|Dec 3 2009||8:00P||Turner Hall||Milwaukee, Wisconsin|
|Dec 4 2009||8:00P||First Avenue||Minneapolis, Minnesota|
|Dec 5 2009||8:00P||The Vic Theatre||Chicago, Illinois|
|Dec 6 2009||8:00P||The Bluebird||Bloomington, Indiana|
|Dec 8 2009||8:00P||Southgate House||Newport, Kentucky|
|Dec 9 2009||8:00P||House of Blues||Cleveland, Ohio|
The Black Cab Sessions is one of the coolest music websites I’ve ever seen. In its second year, renowned artists play a quick gig while riding around London in those famous bulbous black taxi cabs.
Perhaps because of the shape of the taxis, the sound is surprisingly good and the lineup is impressive – Bon Iver, Brian Williams, Ryan Adams, Fleet Foxes, My Morning Jacket, The Kooks and many others including, of course, Death Cab for Cutie. One of the remarkable things about this series is that the cab drivers are the real deal, not part of the production crew. The artists and film crew actually stand on the street with their instruments and flag a cab.
And it turns out the artists are enjoying themselves too. Apparently the site has come to the point where they are turning down artists these days. Another interesting note is the cost of “production” – about £15, or $30.
Sign up for their newsletter on the Black Cab Sessions website to get updates, London music news and alerts of new sessions.
Also, check out The Londonist for an interview with the website’s creators.
Below is a double session from The Kooks.
12/28/08 (Video/Audio after the jump) The first time I saw My Morning Jacket live, I was impressed. That was about three years ago. Then I saw them at Austin City Limits. Whoa Nelly! It was one of the most disappointing shows I’ve ever seen. They embarrassed themselves. They embarrassed me … I forced a couple people to see them with me that day. The whole band seemed drunk, or high, or both (it was, then, no surprise that guitarist/singer Jim James ‘fell’ off the stage in October, canceling the originally scheduled Chicago shows.) Simply put, the show amounted to little more than un-choreographed noise. And there’s nothing worse than seeing a terrible performance from a band you really like – it can turn you off of them for a while, as it did me. So, as I walked into The Chicago Theatre to see them for a third time, I was skeptical. In my eyes, it was their last chance. And this time, they did not disappoint.
Want to write your own My Morning Jacket concert review? Get your My Morning Jacket Tickets – from Barry’s Tickets today! And be sure to stay on the lookout for Jim James’ new project, a collaboration with Bright Eyes’ Conor Oberst and Mike Mogis, and M. Ward under the name Monsters of Folk, to be released on September 22. Back to the review…
They opened with “At Dawn” and it was immediately apparent that James was in better shape (and without his beard) than the last time. He came to play, and sing. He was on key and, based on appearances, recovered from his October injuries and sober.
A couple of songs later they busted out their latest big hit from the new Evil Urges, “I’m Amazed.” For the first time, I was transported back to the My Morning Jacket I knew. It sounded perfect. Timing is crucial for that song and it was spot-on. From there, it marched on like a typical MMJ show – rhythm, meandering jams, soul and the pleasant, distinct, high-pitched tone that is Jim James.
Chicago Theatre is a masterpiece (lobby pictured above.) Located in the heart of downtown Chicago, the architecture is beautiful. So much so that James commented on it – saying something to the effect of how we live in a linear world, full of straight lines, steel and glass, and how refreshing it was to be in a place with architecture that resembled the human brain. Something like that. He was clearly enjoying the place and I think that added to their enthusiasm on stage. The acoustics are solid and the space is large but cozy.
There’s something so cool about watching someone rock a Flying V guitar. James did several times throughout the show, and watching him thrash is just plain fun. It’s a testament to the distinct flavor of MMJ – they go from playing ballads, mixed with jam sessions, mixed with metal – and at no time do they sound out of their element. In one of the more surprising developments, a new sound was tossed in when they played a new song, “Highly Suspicious.” It’s kind of Devo-ish and has all the makings of 80′s inspired electronica. Throw in James’ high-pitch and you’ve got … something. I admit, on the album, I wasn’t a fan of the song at all (reviews have continually blasted it.) But hearing and seeing it live – a whole different story. It nearly blew the roof off. The accompanying light show (pictured) was cool too. Don’t know if I’ll be jamming the song in my apartment, but I hope they play it live when I see them again.
James brought out an interesting instrument during several songs (including ‘Touch me I’m going to Scream Part 2′) that I’ve never seen. From my vantage point, it looked and kind of sounded like a keytar, but it’s not. I don’t know what it is, but it made for some interesting sounds. Leave a comment below if you can help me out.
The crowd was just about exactly what I expected. A spattering of middle-agers but mostly twenty-somethings and college kids on winter break. By far, the most entertaining was a young couple (pictured) – him in sleeve tattoos and her in pigtails. He did some headbanging, while she attempted to dance. All I kept thinking was, “float like a butterfly, sting like a bee.” It was a strange bob-and-weave with absolutely no rhythm. Not as bad as Elaine Benes, but not far off either. At least she was having fun. And so was everyone else. From the devout fans singing along to every song, to the casual observer, the crowd was enjoying a good experience.
Yes, My Morning Jacket atoned for their Texas sins. I’m still a little peeved (I passed up Wilco for them) but I feel much better listening to them again. They were sharp and focused, and made some great music. I wouldn’t put it in my top 5, but it was very good, and I would recommend seeing them on this tour, should they pass through your town. I’ll be on the lookout for when they come back to Chicago.
It’s not permitted to record at this venue … a Sound Citizen was caught in the act and forced to erase the recording, as well as check her camera. So, I couldn’t get any real video, but managed to get some audio of “Golden,” a personal favorite. You can hear it below, just don’t pay attention to the actual video.