Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Track by Track: My Morning Jacket - Evil Urges PLUS DVD/CD GIVEAWAY

My Morning Jacket started the whole "indie" explosion for me. To me, they bridged the gap between alt-country, jam, and this new thing they called "indie." I feel as if they are always about two songs away from making a perfect album. But then again, is there really a perfect album? Yes, See Arcade Fire - Funeral; The National - Alligator; Uncle Tupelo - Anodyne.
At Dawn is a sensation with a few small lulls in between, while It Still Moves mastered the Southern Fried Rock. When Z came along I was, at first, a little taken aback. Where is the Southern feel? I demanded. I soon overcame my personal expectations and realized it was a great album. Again, I still feel a few songs (I dare say) tainted the album. See "Into the Woods," "Dondante," and "Knot Comes Loose." However, many songs on that album had the sheer torque and genius to obscure those few glitches. Now, I will step off the soap box and consider Evil Urges. I have avoided all comments, reviews, and early listens for that one day when you pop in one of your favorite bands cd's like the old days, no previews, preconceived notions, or skewed reviews. So, I have now listened to this thing at least seven or eight times.
As I am sure most of you will do or have already done, after the first couple of songs, a) thought eMusic had the wrong music labeled incorrectly, b) I then wanted to see just how far an album would frisbee while speeding down a highway or c) I wanted to see if a cd would explode on a sign like a beer bottle. BUT, I say this, this album is, yep you guessed it, a GROWER. The initial shock of the first few songs soon wears off, (except for "Highly Suspicious" whose own title should give itself away; I hope is a joke). With that said, here goes the track by track review:

Part I; Totally 80's
1. "Evil Urges" - as aforementioned, I initially was wondering what the heck this song was. I personally would NOT have chosen it as the first song, but I guess for shock value they wanted to. After about two or three listens, I got it. Albeit, it is not the MMJ of old, but I'm open to change. I feel like it is what "I Turn My Camera On" is to Spoon - sort of a new frontier. The song evokes Prince set to great beats. What drives me nuts is to think what the song would have sounded like sans falsetto. I really can't imagine. I do love the robo solo towards the end.

2. "Touch Me I'm Going to Scream Part 1." Oh the irony. As if you thought the first song was some sick joke upon first listen, then comes another tune that sounds NOTHING like MMJ or Jim James. I honestly thought I was going to scream at this point. Now, now be patient. This one takes time as well. I now dig it. Almost like a My Bloody Valentine track or the Flaming Lips "The W.A.N.D." Standby for TMIGTS Part 2.

3. Then, Jim James farted and created "Highly Suspicious." This is not a grower. It just sucks. He is whining and laughing like a baby or maybe a pedophile. Kind of creepy. Sounds like a bad 80's tune.

I like the call this Part II, the shocking 70's.

4. "I'm Amazed" - At this point, I was excited to hear a song that sounded somewhat like MMJ. The song echoes the sounds of an old 70's classic rock tune. See "Sweet Emotion" by Aerosmith. I dig.

5. "Thank You Too" This tune is a bit cheesy but I like it nonetheless. Little 70's to it, Dad rock, but like I said I'm in.

6. "Sec Walking" Dad rock again at its finest. Sounds just like the BeeGees. Again, I like it though.

7. "Two Halves" Again, Dad rock. Where did Jim get this new nasal, gooey voice. Not sure. Not a bad tune though.

8. "Librarian" Hmm, a song about a sexy Librarian couldn't be good. Actually, its not bad. Again, he has this nasal cushy thing going. Strange. Maybe by now I am brain-washed, but I like it. Kind of has an eery feel until you listen to the lyrics.

9. "Look at You" Has a little steel guitar that glistens it but, for the most part, boring.

Part 3. "Wait a minute He's back" Where Jim finally hits his stride.

10. "Aluminum Park" Arguably the best track on the album. It a no-brainer. Starts off with a raw, distorted guitar. I mean, is this the same album. This is standard old school rocking Jacket.
11. "Remnants" Why stop now let's keep breaking guitar strings? Almost has an Alice Cooper guitar driving the song. This is heavy stuff.

12. "Smokin from Shootin" Jim slows it down for a good old MMJ ballad. Top three tune. I love the machine gun drums when he says "Smokin from Shootin." I will still say he sounds so different like almost nasal. Love it, Love it though. Great crescendo. Should be amazing live.

13. "Touch Me I'm Going to Scream Part 2" This is the direction I thought they were headed. What a song. Omnichord blasting, Jim howling. He honestly sounds like the Jim of old here. Just when you think it is over at 4:56 a nasty guitar lick shoves itself in and abrupts the monotony, LOVE IT. Then, the dang album is over. Ahh. Might as well put this one on repeat. Another song of the album contender.

14. "Good Intentions" This one should be after "Highly Suspicious" because the noise in the 5 seconds is how I feel after hearing it.

All in all a pretty good album. Definitely, catches you off guard. Honestly, I hope the band does not break up over this album. I really just can't see everyone being like "Cool!! this thing is a masterpiece." Again, at first listen, this thing is atrocious, but it soon finds its way into you. Hey, if you don't like it, you always have the new Unplugged My Morning Jacket album called Fleet Foxes., which by the way, is a great album. (if you're confused, it's okay, it was a joke. There is an awesome band that sounds a ton like MMJ called Fleet Foxes.)

Pitchfork's Hated it but Stereogum loved it.

AV Club interview HERE

I would LOVE to hear your comments. Heard a song or the whole album, what do you think? GIVEAWAY: One lucky Commenter, assuming you are in the States, will receive a sealed copy of The National dvd - A Skin, A Night with the Virginia EP. Be sure and sign in with an email address or leave an email or just leave a name so I can contact you. I will choose at random.


guy g. said...

I agree for the most part C-Mac. They started with evil urges because the first 10 seconds make you think it is going to be awesome but then it sucks for a few minutes and then ends up o.k. I do agree that aluminum, smokin, and part 2 are the top three. The clip of "touch me...part 2" on black cab sessions is pretty redic. Speaking of the national, i have to admit that i was wrong at Patty's wedding. They have quickly made there way to the top of my list and are on my wish list for concerts this summer. Maybe NYC or Chicago hopefully. However, I still hold my ground that the MMJ dvd was shit and will always be shit even though i do like them.
guy g.

Anonymous said...

you can call it a "grower" if you want, but i don't think i have the patience for it. i've listened to it two or three times through, and i don't really want to subject myself to that torture any more. it's horrid sans a couple of tracks. what in the world were they thinking?

yeah there are a couple of good songs, but i'm questioning if i only consider them good when compared to the rest of the album. now that i think about it, i'm not certain that they could really stand up on their own.

bad, bad, bad record. my faith has been slightly restored in pitchfork though. i felt certain they would have given it a 10.


Adam Clark said...

HAHA...this album probably should've come with a disclaimer for all those jammier fans of MMJ. In "Evil Urges" and "Highly Suspicious" it sounds to me like good ole Jim James has been listening to a little too much of Beck's "Peaches N' Cream" and unfortunately hanging out with the lead singer from Better Than Ezra and jamming out to "Juicy". I like "Touch Me I'm Going to Scream, Pt. 2" a lot, but "Evil Urges" and "Highly Suspicious"? C'mon.

Ew Ew Eeeeeeeeeew, peacheeess n' creeeeaaaaammmm!

Peru Mission said...

Pretty weak after first listen . I enjoyed 10 through 13, but I got stuck in the stagnant middle. Probably will just buy the songs I enjoy and wait til the next album.

Sam Love

Hobby said...

I think its good, but its random. Its a collection of interesting songs, but I feel no constant pulse or themes. Maybe that's the point.

"Smokin from Shootin" and "Touch Me I'm Going to Scream Pt 2" are both great to listen to.

"Highly Suspicious" is ridiculous. And the 3 spot on a CD is usually a good tune...

Clyde - I agree with your assessment of "Librarian". The eerie thing is something I have grown to love.

I'm willing to let this one grow on me. I guess we should hold these guys to a super-high standard after previous albums, but, all-in-all, I enjoyed my first run through this one.

-Paul Pless

shuff said...

pretty much dead on with your assessment... i like it, but Jim must have just discovered Prince or something... so many songs where i was like "ok, they are about to let loose and go crazy on the drums and guitar... well, no... ok, maybe now... ok now... ok now... DANG it!"

Amelia said...

Clyde - cool blog, i'm finally getting a chance to check it out...Haven't heard the entire album yet but i keep hearing how hard they rocked bonnaroo this weekend, and i for one am infatuated with "evil urges" as i'm sure i will be about many of the other tracks once i get a chance to hear them more. hope all is well!

Kim said...

I actually really love this album. But I think it's largely because I saw them at SXSW (my first time seeing them live), where they played a ton of songs from the album, which I had never heard prior but all of them stuck with me as much if not more than their older stuff. So I sort of knew what to expect from it.

I'll agree, Aluminum Park is awesome, I was surprised they didn't place that closer to the beginning of the album. That and Smokin' are probably my faves. But I don't even mind Suspicious... I think it's cool and catchy, but I'm rather tolerant of a little cheese now and then. :)

Anonymous said...

The main thing that everyone is forgetting is that music is to be heard LIVE!!! The songs on this album add substantially to their collection of songs and catapult their live show from really good to absolutely shit your pants amazing! I'm Amazed! I saw them after Z and it was one of the best concerts that I have seen. I just saw them at Bonnaroo again and it was incredible. My point... go see them and then everything on this album makes sense. The goofyness of "Highly Suspicious" adds some fun in the crowd rather than watching the same boring shit. "Evil Urges" which fills in for "Wordless Chorus" as their opener rocks live, as Jim James can shred those falsettos right in front of you and do so better than the album. Buy a ticket, and get on board for the best show ever!