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Archive for the ‘My Morning Jacket’ Category

[ATTENDED: October 8, 2019] Illiterate Light

I had heard of Illiterate Light from NPR, but didn’t really know them.  They played at Newport Folk Festival but were early on Saturday and we arrived after them.

Traffic getting to this show was terrible and I was annoyed that we’d miss Illiterate Light (or part of their set anyhow).  S. said she didn’t mind missing the opening act as long as we made it for The Head and the Heart.

We walked in just as Illiterate Light took the stage and we got seated around the middle of the first song.  And I couldn’t get over how loud they were (particularly opening for a not-especially-loud band like The Head and the Heart).  They had big rocking guitar and crashing drums.

Then I looked up and realized that there were only two of them on stage. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: THE FLAMING LIPS AND HEADY FWENDS-“Children of the Moon” (2012).

2012 saw the release of this very strange collaborative album.  Whether The Flaming Lips had entered the mainstream or if people who’d always liked them were now big stars or maybe they all just liked doing acid.  Whatever the case, The Lips worked with a vast array of famous (and less famous) people for this bizarre album.  Here it is 8 years later. Time to check in.

Lately, Jim James has been going in a more mellow direction after the pretty heavy psychedelia of Circuital in 2011.  But this song stays in that heavy psychedelic vein with a big distorted guitar riff and distorted vocals from James (and Coyne, I assume).

It’s that weird mix of creepy and catchy that the Lips do so well.  You can clearly hear James on the lead vocals, but who knows who is contributing vocals to the rest (the oh oh ohs).  The guitar solo is all distorted and reversed–a noisy explosion of sound.

This song is barely four minutes and it’s followed by another noisy short one before the album segues back into quieter terrain.

[READ: August 1, 2019] Strangers in Paradise XXV #6

Katchoo was given coordinates to meet Stephanie.  The coordinates put her way off the grid in Colombia.  As she waits, a guy on a moped drives up and a monkey hops off and delivers a package (that’s pretty adorable, honestly).

Katchoo can only assume things are bad since Stephanie didn’t show.  She can’t imagine what is in the satchel (she hopes it’s not Francine’s head).

But no, it is a tube and in the tube is an ancient piece of papyrus–Cleopatra’s mathematical ideas. (more…)

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[ATTENDED: July 27 & 28, 2019] Newport Folk Festival

Back in 1998, I won a radio contest (not through luck, I knew the name of a song and couldn’t believe no one else did!) and scored a ticket to the Newport Folk Festival.  It was in a lull back then and also, I believe there was only one stage (it’s hard to remember).  Now it is at full power, selling out before artists are even announced.

S. and I have talked about going and finally this year I saw when tickets were announced and I bought 4 tickets for us.  I knew that our son wouldn’t want to go, but I decided to make a long vacation out of it–a couple days in Rhode Island and then about a week in Maine.  He couldn’t say no to going to that.

I didn’t get Friday tickets because three days seemed excessive.  Plus, you never know who is going to appear until long after you buy the tickets. and that actually worked out pretty well.   Turned out, there wasn’t anyone I really wanted to see.

So we rolled in for Saturday.  I was told that if you wanted to get the poster you had to get their very early.  We arrived at 12:30 and they were long sold out.  Oh well. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: YIM YAMES-Tribute To (2009).

I really like My Morning Jacket, but I find that Jim James’ solo work is a little too slow for me.  This album is a collection of six coves of George Harrison songs.  I’m not a particularly big fan of George Harrison’s solo work, so really this just doesn’t work for me all that way.

This record is incredibly languid.  Although after several listens I finally found a way in and have begun to enjoy the melodies.  Also, reading this quote makes me like the album more

James recorded the album in December 2001 on a relative’s eight-track reel-to-reel tape recorder, just days after Harrison’s passing. Of the recording, James told Billboard magazine that “I felt like I was in the weirdest head space when I did that EP … I felt really confused a lot of the time. I wanted to just do it and let it come out even if I messed stuff up. It’s definitely not the tightest or most professional recording you’re ever going to hear in your life but I like that. I think it lends it a more childish atmosphere.”

“Long, Long, Long” has a nice melody in the chorus.  While “Behind the Locked Door” has a nice melody in the verse.

“Love to You” introduces a banjo, which adds a nice texture to the EP.  “If Not for You” is the most uptempo song on the record and is quite lovely.

The first time I listened through this album the only song I knew was “My Sweet Lord,” which was never a particular favorite.  Although I like the way Yames multitracks himself.

“Ballad of Sir Frankie Crisp” has piano in it and it is also fairly upbeat, although boy does it go one for a long time.
the final song is “All Things Must Pass.”  This track is also quite pretty but also slow and long.

The whole EP definitely sets a mood, and if you are in the mood for pretty, slow acoustic songs, this is the place to be.

[READ: June 4, 2019] “Hereafter, Faraway”

The June 10th issue of the New Yorker features five essays by authors whom I have enjoyed.  They were gathered under the headline “Another Country.”

This essay is about the author’s mother’s death and the author’s subsequent return to Vietnam.

Her mother believed that another world awaited her and was not concerned.  The author imagines this other world was was like those found in Hirokazu Kore-eda’s film After Life.  In the film the newly dead pass through a halfway house run by angels.  The travelers must pick one even from their life that the angels will make into a movie, starring the travelers themselves. Heaven is this short film played on an endless loop. (more…)

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[ATTENDED: December 7, 2018] Strand of Oaks

In 2016, Timothy Showalter played his second Strand of Oaks Winter Classic at Boot and Saddle.  I had a really great time.  Then I saw him and his full band later the next year at a bigger venue.  I more or less felt that I didn’t need to go to the winter classic again this year.  But thinking of how much fun it was (and the fact that Carl Broemel was opening) was a huge incentive.  Now I’ve been to one night of his second and fourth Winter Classics.

Showalter came up on stage and Broemel came with him.   Showalter is such a warm and gregarious person and you can see that he is genuinely happy to be there.  He was smiling pretty much for the whole show.

Although I like Strand of Oaks newer album Hard Love, I really like the previous album Heal.  So it was pretty awesome that he played the majority of songs from Heal. In fact. the first three songs were from that album

For a few songs Broemel played lead guitar while Showalter played rhythm and sang.  And the two guitarists took the opportunity to do some great jamming together.  Broemel also played pedal steel (which was really cool) for a couple of songs. (more…)

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[ATTENDED: December 7, 2018] Carl Broemel

In 2016, I went to see the second Strand of Oaks Winter Classic at Boot and Saddle.  It was a wonderful night  I wasn’t even that big of a Strand of Oaks fan–I liked the latest album, but that’s all I knew.  The show was terrific and the whole night had a wonderful feeling of warmth and kindness.  Timothy Showalter is a super nice guy and very grateful for his success.

I didn’t think I needed to go again this year, but then I saw that one of the opening acts was Carl Broemel, guitarist for My Morning Jacket.  MMJ have been on my “must see again” list, but they haven’t played anywhere near us for a while.  So this seemed like the next best thing.

I was running late that night and assumed that Joe Pug was the first opener (from the way it was listed).  But when I got there I discovered that Carl was up first and had started already!  Gadzooks. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: JIM JAMES-Tiny Desk Concert #799 (October 26, 2018).

Jim James is the singer of My Morning Jacket.  And I think he’s pretty great.

Although I like his band work more than his solo work, i was happy to see him in this Tiny Desk Concert.

Especially since he started with “I’m Amazed,” the terrific song from MMJ’s Evil Urges.  I think what’s most striking about this version is how stripped down the music is.  The song has become mostly about the words.  And, reading the blurb, that seems to be the point lately for James.

A single voice can send a powerful message – and that’s just what Jim James did at the Tiny Desk, with just his voice and an acoustic guitar. His lead-off song, “I’m Amazed,” comes from My Morning Jacket’s 2008 album Evil Urges. It’s a prophetic song in many ways – it speaks not only of a divided nation and the need for justice but also to the beauty in the life and plight of others. It’s something Jim James would find greater appreciation for after he fell from a stage at a My Morning Jacket concert, just three days before Evil Urges was to be released, sustaining life-threatening injuries. It would be a life-changing event and the inspiration for his first solo album years later, in 2013, Regions of Light and Sound of God.

Jim James’ second song at the Tiny Desk, “Same Old Lie,” comes from an album he released just days before the 2016 Presidential election.

This is a much darker song musically and lyrically.  Once again the (fingerpicked) guitar is lovely, almost all the higher strings.  But the lyrics are pointed:

The lyrics take on a deeper meaning now, just days before the 2018 elections. “It’s the same old lie you been reading about / Bleeding out – now who’s getting cheated out? / You best believe it’s the silent majority / If you don’t vote it’s on you, not me.”

James’ voice sounds a little off.  Not terribly, but perhaps it’s a little strained (these early morning shows are tough for musicians).  He also doesn’t say anything.  He’s just right there to start the third song, the strummed “Over and Over”

We fight the same fights / we drop the same bombs / put up the same walls, over and over again.

His closing tune, in what I think of as a purposeful trilogy for these political times, is from two albums he’s released this year, Uniform Distortion and Uniform Clarity. The albums contain the same songs, performed with his blistering electric guitar on one and on the other, as here, acoustically.

It’s a message of exasperation and hope, all set to a pretty melody.

After 20-some odd years of putting out music, Jim James is full of fervor and compassion for others as he sings, “How can we make / The same mistakes / and still carry on / Living the same we did yesterday / Have we learned nothing at all?”

[READ: January 12, 2017] “Tiny Man”

I have really been enjoying the Sam Shepard stories in the New Yorker.  They are surprisingly raw and gritty and feel a bit like a throwback (Shepard is 73 after all) to a more blunt storytelling style.

This one has two main sections, the Tiny Man part and the Felicity part.

The Tiny Man sections start like this: They deliver my father’s corpse in the trunk of a ’49 Mercury coupe.  His body is wrapped up tight in see-through plastic…   He’s become very small in the course of things–maybe eight inches tall.  In fact, I’m holding him now, in the palm of my hand.

Woah, what’s going on there? (more…)

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