Mendelsohn: This week, Klinger, we are going to listen to My Morning Jacket’s Z. Released in 2005, this album took the band from being a reverb-soaked psychedelic outfit with a strong indie following to a bonafide critical success, racking up accolades for expanding and polishing their sound. Before this record came out, I hadn’t really paid any attention to My Morning Jacket. I couldn’t get behind all the reverb and warbling falsetto from lead-singer and main songwriter Jim James. It wasn’t until both Pitchfork and Rolling Stone started tossing around platitudes like”Z is My Morning Jacket’s OK Computer”, or “America is a lot closer to getting its own Radiohead, and it isn’t Wilco”, that I decided to investigate further. I didn’t find an American Radiohead. I understand why some music critics might be wiling to make that comparison, lazy though it may be. The record was produced by John Leckie, who had helmed Radiohead’s The Bends (also the Stone Roses’ self-titled debut and worked on Pink Floyd’s Wish You Were Here, plus a couple of Beatles solo projects to name a few). Z also finds a band shifting directions and elevating their game, much like Radiohead had done in the jump from The Bends to OK Computer. Was Z it another OK Computer? No, but My Morning Jacket seemed to find another gear, taking their music beyond the ordinary with a renewed vigor.
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When your knowledge of a long-running band is limited to primarily the work they’ve put out since you were introduced to them, you risk developing unrealistic expectations. KEN Mode is an interesting case, because the majority of people in America only know the Canadian band from their post-2011 output, starting with the album Venerable, which put them on the map thanks to the involvement of tastemaker label Profound Lore and producer Kurt Ballou. As a result, some have assumed this band has more of a metal and hardcore background, and expect KEN Mode to sound like a sludgy Converge all the time. However, if you dig into the band’s past, you’ll find that above all else, the primary influence is noise rock. The shadows the Jesus Lizard, Cop Shoot Cop, and Big Black have always loomed very large over this band, and it was only a matter of time before they started to explore that influence on record a lot more deeply.
Folk Family Revival consists of three brothers and their buddy. The group is definitely moving towards psychedelic rock rather than straight-up folk with its sophomore album, Waterwalker, out now on Rock Ridge Music. With a homemade liquid light show from a visually talented friend, the luxury of regular studio access, and no external time constraints on recording, Folk Family Revival leaps into new territory. The songs continue to grow, both intentionally and for diverse audiences ranging from post-line dance classes in a legendary Texas roadhouse to sports bars, finding ways to keep audiences engaged and the music fresh.
A 20-Year Pregnancy
Slow Dakota’s 2013 concept album Bürstner and the Baby destroyed my faith in the music world. Not in a “I’ve just listened to a Nickelback album” kind of way; no, in a slow way, over time, as I finally came to understand what the album is about.
“I can’t obsess / Over you anymore / I can’t confess / That I love you”
Let’s get the definition of “Neurasthenia” out of the way: “an ill-defined medical condition characterized by lassitude, fatigue, headache, and irritability, associated chiefly with emotional disturbance.” A serious case of “the sads”, then.