I know we aren't supposed to get personal in our reviews, but there's something about me that you guys should probably know: I'm a time traveler. And ever since I discovered the secret to time travel last October while helping some neighborhood kid work on his middle school science project, I have been traveling to the future once or twice a week and forming relationships with people who haven't even been born yet. In the last eight months, I've taken a first-class flight to the moon, learned who actually
shot John F. Kennedy and I even had sexual relations with President George W. Bush's great-granddaughter, who works as an exotic dancer at a nightclub in Dallas, Texas called Dubya's. But of all of my exciting exploits, the one that was the most fulfilling was introducing the future to one of my favorite bands: My Morning Jacket.
You see, after Lars Ulrich and Dr. Dre successfully sued the entire planet for stealing their music in 2017, 99.8% of the world's popular music was lost forever. Sure, the musicians were still around, but who was going to believe some jackass who spelled his name Thom instead of Tom that he was once the lead singer of the most important rock band in the world? Because I'm scared of what could happen, i refuse to use my time traveling to fix this problem. I'm not Marty McFly and I'm not the Terminator. Besides, what if I do something else that causes even more problems? I've seen "The Butterfly Effect," man, I know what could happen to me! So, since I can't save the lawsuit from ever happening, I decided I would bring the people of the future enough great music to revive their world's creativity.
I brought my Beatles albums from my home, my Bob Dylan, my Led Zeppelin, my Black Sabbath, my Frank Zappa, my Pink Floyd, my Miles Davis, my Talking Heads, my Radiohead, everything I could possibly think of. I also brought some albums that were never fully appreciated in their day, efforts I hoped would find a new life with these ears from the future, and one of the underrated gems I brought was My Morning Jacket's It Still Moves
It Still Moves
, I explained to my friends from another era, is an album that simply kicks ass. It was My Morning Jacket's third studio release and it originally came out in 2003, a year that belonged to the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Outkast and the White Stripes. To describe the band's style, I started by saying that My Morning Jacket was a band of extremes that blends sparse acoustic guitars with loud, classic rock-like riffs and that frontman Jim James' vocals were always soaked in reverb, making it sound like he recorded his voice in a giant barn. This impressed my future friends, who had read about barns in their high school textbooks, and it impressed them even further when I revealed that the band actually did
record in a giant barn. My Morning Jacket's first two albums, I continued, were The Tennessee Fire
and At Dawn
and each release found the band sticking mainly to acoustic guitars and harmonicas, giving them a sound that you could almost describe as alt-country. Alt-country, I explained, was a genre that started out exceptional, but ended up being as lame as anything else. They nodded, taking notes in their small notepads, and I went on after giving them time to write everything down. The next thing I went over was the album My Morning Jacket released after It Still Moves
, I told my future friends, was a fantastic effort that found the band getting ambitious. It was a great album, but it wasn't near as great as It Still Moves
. I then pulled out a copy of It Still Moves
and began the first track, "Mahgeetah." As James' voice and the guitar kicked in, everyone was blown away and looking at me for an explanation. And an explanation is what I gave them ...
"This, friends, is 'Mahgeetah,' an early highlight from It Still Moves
. Dig how those guitars, soaked in just as much reverb as the vocals, are guiding the song from the beginning. James and his singing are key, to be sure, but without those guitars fills, this song wouldn't be nearly as powerful. And do you hear that crunchy guitar riff? That's the band flexing its muscles, kids. And here, with just a minute left, do you hear that cowbell? That new guitar part? That's a breakdown. That's a band ending their album's opening track by switching gears and throwing you a little curveball. That's guts
, guys. That's guys
. Another early highlight is the next track, 'Dancefloors.' While it starts out fairly similar to the tone and approach of 'Mahgeetah,' we suddenly have a new element of the band's sound: a horn section! These New Orleans-style horns carry the song to a different place, and when mixed with that barroom piano that suddenly shows up, you have yet another example of the band switching gears with fantastic results.
"Remember that quiet style I explained earlier, the one that My Morning Jacket was more fond of in the band's early years? Well, it shows up a few times on It Still Moves
. 'Golden,' with its fingerpicked acoustic guitar and catchy hook, sounds like it was lifted from an Allman Brothers Band or Lynyrd Skynyrd album. We'll go over those bands in tomorrow's lesson, but take my word when I say that this will have you wishing you had been alive when America still had open fields, country roads and cheap weed. Another example of the band taking things slow is the nine-minute long 'I Will Sing You Songs,' which starts out with nearly three minutes of slow guitar. Once the vocals finally kick in, things don't speed up much at all, with James singing the words over simple drums and more smooth guitar work."
At this point, I was interrupted by Dana, a girl sitting in the front row. She said I had mentioned how My Morning Jacket kicks ass, but songs with fingerpicked acoustic guitars or three-minute intros don't sound like they kick ass. I realized she was right. I was leaving poor Dana confused by not getting tot he good stuff. I was rambling and it was taking away any momentum I had gained. So I laughed and decided it was time to end my speech by talking about my two personal favorite tracks from It Still Moves
: "One Big Holiday" and "Run Thru."
"Well, Dana, 'One Big Holiday' was the first My Morning Jacket song I ever heard and the reason I soon became flat-out obsessed with It Still Moves
. It starts with an introduction that lasts 1:25 and completely destroys my brain. It's fast, it's heavy, it's full of passion, it's everything
you could want in a rock song. And that's before James even opens his mouth! Once you get the energetic vocals and incredible guitar solo, you know you are truly in classic rock paradise with 'One Big Holiday.' Remember how I told you guys not to be what we once called a fanboy? Well, I'm being one right now, but it is all for your own good. You kids must
digest this song. It will bend you over, pull down your pants and kick your ass so hard that you'll need to bite a towel just to keep from startling the entire neighborhood with your screams of excitement.
"The exceptional 'Run Thru' is the other song that I worship from It Still Moves
. It starts out kind of dull, to be honest, but you just have to stay with it. About two minutes in, the song stops and drummer Patrick Hallahan takes over for almost a solid minute, beating away on his kit like a man possessed. Finally, the guitars join Hallahan and the band goes completely nuts, playing so hard that you wish you could be there in person to watch the passion in their eyes. Fans of the band were known for saying My Morning Jacket was the best band they had ever seen live and hearing 'Run Thru' shows how powerful a presence these guys clearly have."
At this point, I looked at my future friends and they were clearly getting bored. So I said that was the end of today's lesson on music of the past, gathered my things and left them all alone. As I walked out of the room, though, I heard It Still Moves
playing loud and I knew my future friends were rocking out. I could have shown these people any music from the past that day, but what did I do? I showed them It Still Moves
. You, sputnik reader, should check out this album as well. Other than Kid A
, it is probably my favorite album of the past six years. And without it, I would spend a lot less time playing air guitar and a lot more time wondering what the hell happened to good ol' rock 'n' roll. I need to end this review now and head back to the future. I have a date with Dubya's great-granddaughter.