My Morning Jacket

Z

(ATO; 2005)

By The Staff | 28 September 2005

« Home »

Author
Topic: My Morning Jacket "Z"
Chet
some skinny white kid

This ain't your dad's MMJ. More like your hippie mother's.

Or your older sister's. You know, the one who has lots of wool scarves and listens to the Flaming Lips and Air... she smokes shit and/or she's a lesbian, and everytime she explains her current grad thesis to you, you believe in it even less than she does.

Okay, so I don't have a sister like that, either.
Chet
some skinny white kid


i failed to mention that i think i like this.
Chet
some skinny white kid

watch out, "Dondante" just blew my mind. sexually and metaphysically.
Newell
Blog Party

there's a sequence here where it sounds like the songs were written by

Coldplay
Weezer
Elvis Costello

it's like tracks 3-5

ew

and the caterwauling at the end of the otherwise fabulous opener is brutal.
Scott
Community Mantra

I love how it ends with that "Benny and the Jets" bit. How seriously can you take something like that?
Chet
some skinny white kid


and the caterwauling at the end of the otherwise fabulous opener is brutal


what you talking about, the caterwauling's fun.

 

Newell
Blog Party

I thought it was bad/forced

I dunno. i miss the rollicking from It Still Moves. This is contrived-sounding to me....trying hard to be slicker than I'd like them to be

I'm not really feeling this so far.
Newell
Blog Party

it's just

the coldplay song is structured like a coldplay song. pristine and shiny and build and climax and fade in a neat little pop packet. The vocals are unadventurous. Just. Like. Coldplay.

Just take Jim James out of the mix, and think about the instrumentals... coldplay/weezer, tracks 3/4.

the costello song is where James actually enunciates like costello...but i'm pretty yeah wrt coldplay/weezer...

i obviously hate myself about this whole ordeal.
Scott
Community Mantra

Two times through, I like this a whole lot. I wouldn't really want them to do another ISM or At Dawn, to be honest. 70 minutes of each is enough.

"It Beats 4 U" is incredible. "Lay Low," too. The last two songs…

Aaron, you're completely wrong about this album. "What a Wonderful Man," especially.

 

Chet
some skinny white kid

yeah, i really admire them for doing something different. that wouldn't mean much if the songs didn't still work, but i think they do. in many ways, this sounds like the most focused record they've done.
Newell
Blog Party


Aaron, you're completely wrong about this album. "What a Wonderful Man," especially


did amir log on as scott?

it's ok. i could be jumping the gun. but i'm really disappointed on listens 1 and 2.



anyway since no one has my back on this, Abbie said the same thing "It's poppier, and not as interesting...". that should probably go in the “who has the smartest girlfriend” thread though.

Scott
Community Mantra

"Off the Record's" the only song I'm not really liking, and even that's not half bad for what it is (and not much poppier than "Phone Went West," for that matter).

It's definitely not as interesting as At Dawn, but I really like that they're trying for a (comparatively) compact record after Dawn and ISM. I agree with Chet about it probably being their most focused, for better or worse. Kind of like Destroyer's This Night-Your Blues excess/reaction.

Plus I like the way some of the songs are structured. It's really Buffalo Springfield Again-sy, but with more solos.
Chet
some skinny white kid


Plus I like the way some of the songs are structured. It's really Buffalo Springfield Again-sy, but with more solos



Agreed. Is the album a little more poppy overall? Yeah, so what. I think there's a lot about this record that's very interesting, the structures being a prime example. They're tight without being by-the-numbers. Aaron, you criticize the vocals for being unadventurous on the "Coldplay" song but then call Jimmy's alien yodeling on the first track "brutal"? What are you looking for?

I don't really know how a record with "Into the Woods" on it gets called uninteresting. Sweet perversity. Or a record that has songs ending the way "It Beats 4 U" and "Off the Record" end. The production is a really interesting exploration for MMJ. And, once again, the soloing is on some Neil Young-level ish.

"What a Wonderful Man," "Lay Low," "Knot Comes Loose" and "Dondante" are just fantastic.
Newell
Blog Party


Aaron, you criticize the vocals for being unadventurous on the "Coldplay" song but then call Jimmy's alien yodeling on the first track "brutal"? What are you looking for?



so, like, you're saying that he can't be uninteresting on one song and brutal on another? I guess I'm saying that each song has elements I don't like, and that these elements differ per song. I.e. he's brutal on one. On the other he's sort of boring. Or maybe it's just the arrangement of the song. C'mon. On the bridge w/ the piano, the little synthy bits - that doesn't scream stadium bubble gum to you?

?

I like the arrangement on the first track, but the howling is going to take some time - seems like overkill to me. Especially how he goes off into that soul-strutting "yeyeah" series at the end. I like it when Jim soars, no problem, but that ending is over the top.
Chet
some skinny white kid

I'm just wondering what exactly you're expecting of him. because MMJ aren't really doing what's expected of them on this record. I'm not sure what you mean by "adventurous" because I listen to how Jim's singing on "Wordless Chorus" and "What A Wonderful Man" and "Off the Record" and that Frank Black-ish snarl at 4 1/2 minutes into "Dondante," and I think that this is the most adventurous that he's been.

i can see how you'd think the yodeling would be over-the-top, but it's a subtly over-the-top song that's aptly called "Wordless Chorus." what Jim's doing at the end seems like the surprising yet natural conclusion. and, uh, don't you like Architecture in Helsinki? smiling emoticon.
Scott
Community Mantra

I think it'd be over the top if it were a part of any other song. The guy's covered Badu, Elton John, and "Take My Breath Away," you knew he'd do this eventually.

Plus the way that whole wailing section leads into "It Beats 4 U" is one of my favorite parts of the album. Like how "It's Oh So Quiet" leads into "Enjoy," except not nearly as extreme.

And I'm not sure I get the whole Coldplay thing. I'd love for Coldplay to make a record this good.
Newell
Blog Party

Chet – leave australia out of this.

Scott: he covered badu?

that's interesting

Rocket Man was awesome.

and Coldplay: "Gideon"

Especially after the 2:36 mark.

Anyway I'll admit to expecting something not as shiny from this record. But hearing JJ over some of these arrangements is offputting to me. sounds contrived/forced. It's a departure, which is fine, but it's a departure into sounding more like 'other bands' that are poppier/shinier/less substantial than i like to think mmj are. This MMJ-does-the-pristine-thing is not my bag.

consider how YHF was a departure for Wilco, but it still retained that Wilco country-groove throughout the whole record...I don't like JJ's new groove. It sounds more like it's part of Chris Martin's groove. Obviously I’m asking for some suspension of disbelief here when referencing “Chris Martin’s groove”.

anyway is there an emoticon for blue in the face?
Chet
some skinny white kid


Anyway I'll admit to expecting something not as shiny from this record. But hearing JJ over some of these arrangements is offputting to me. sounds contrived/forced. It's a departure, which is fine, but it's a departure into sounding more like 'other bands' that are poppier/shinier/less substantial than i like to think mmj are. This MMJ-does-the-pristine-thing is not my bag.


I can respect that. As my initial post indicated, I do hear some hints of other bands... some Flaming Lips, some Air textures... but it's really refreshing to hear that kind of stretch from MMJ. Like Scott said, we don't really need another It Still Moves. And I think the change just ends up making MMJ sound even more unique.

"Gideon" is the only track in which I hear any strong resemblance to Coldplay, but it's like a good Coldplay song. I mean, I think it's okay to like "Yellow" or "Politik."
Newell
Blog Party

yeah yeah yeah, but like...what does it mean when My Morning Jacket find it ok to write a Coldplay song, given the fact that everything they've done before has been so grain-silo and so awesome ...there's none of that eerie mystique on this thing... it's just "studio rock" now. The reason I liked the band so much was because they never compromised their brass section...they wrote songs for steamboats… they were the only revivalists worth listening to.

this is radio. this is the drive at five with Davey Z and Matty K.
 

« Home »

Author
Topic: My Morning Jacket "Z"
Scott
Community Mantra

I'm kind of certain we're hearing a completely different album.

I'm surprised Goldstein hasn't backed me up on this yet. ...Dave?
Newell
Blog Party


i should have qualified that with "by comparison"

but it is a pop-friendlier album, and it did sacrifice part of what I loved about the band to get there.

Dave M. Goldstein
Statute of Frauds

I listened to this thing once and it sounded tossed off.

I listened to it again and I really started to dig it, but it's still way too early to start utilizing the CMG scale. It took at least 8 or 9 listens before I recognized It Still Moves for the shining bastion of mastery that it is.

I think some of it was getting used to the 45 minute run length, and the use of straight up, 3-minute pop songs. "Lay Low," "It Beats 4 U" and the third song are all pretty great... and I love the " Hawaii 5-0" riff in "Off the Record."

plus, its amazing how catchy the chorus to "Wordless Chorus" is, despite being...well, you know.
Newell
Blog Party

the vocal harmonies on "Wordless Chorus" - 98%
clayton9purdom
"i'm very good looking"

the coldplay comparison is pretty apt; this is album is comfortably universal, epic, arena-ready, etc. but this is comparable to coldplay in the same way that it still moves was comparable to lynyrd skynyrd, because that's one of my favorite albums of the past five years and i fucking hate lynyrd skynyrd. ISM was what people wish skynyrd sounded like, when in fact almost all skynyrd could do was trill guitars quickly. it took that archetype and fleshed it out with emotion, songwriting and the type of epic guitar wars that it never actually had. likewise, this sounds like (after two listens) the album that coldplay is supposed to have been making: enormous and heartfelt and universal. only with (unlike the last coldplay record) actual hooks, actual heart and better guitar solos. and the balls to be experimental. as for the "eerie mystique" and "grain-silo awesome"ness, aaron, i think you're just acting like a person who doesn't want a band to be willing to change, which is a) evil, and b) uncharacteristic.

this is a very good album. i think.

that being said, there is nothing on this album that sounds like weezer. aaron's high.
Chet
some skinny white kid

plus, to my ears, this thing has a lot of eerie mystique.

"A kitten on fire / a baby in a blender / both sound asleep / as a night of surrender / i know it ain't easy / but you do what you can / if your living gets wheezy / you can follow this plan / put in more / than you could ever get out / i'm tired of the talking / i know what you're about / now open your mouth / here comes the spoon / you're gonna eat what i give you / you're gonna like it real good / i went over the rail and into the woods / where did i go?"

over that music.
Newell
Blog Party

hey - change away, MMJ

just not into this, please

I'm going to have to put this down/away/out of sight for a week and try it back on again when I'm not being bullied around by the other kids on the playground.
Chet
some skinny white kid

*chet stops bicycling around aaron*
Newell
Blog Party

also - I don't like that song you’re talking about, Chet, because I knew this dude, when I was 12, who had all these jokes like the below:

Q: What's red and white and green and hangs in the sky?
A: a baby on a meathook

Q: What's white and blue and covered in plastic?
A: A baby in a baggie

Q: what's pink and spins really fast?
A: A baby in a blender

so that line reminded me of him and how he's an alcoholic now (surprise) and therefore I had trouble 'getting into the song'.

and track 4 does so sound like something off of pinkerton if you take JJ out of it.

also: your bike is welfare.
Chet
some skinny white kid

somewhere a little amir just died.
Newell
Blog Party

it's all about the personal baggage.

Dave M. Goldstein
Statute of Frauds

Interestingly, parts of this record ("Gideon" especially) remind me a lot of South, who are a heavier, more adventurous version of Coldplay, and whose second record, the unfortunately slept on With the Tides was my first ever CMG review (pretty poorly written and I overrated it, but still a very solid record...maybe a 78%).

I'm really starting to like Z a lot. I got to listen to the whole thing again this morning while waiting for a subway that never arrived, forcing me to take a bus. The first time I listened, I forgot that my iPod was on song shuffle, so my impression was 'this sounds good, but they were on crack when they sequenced it. Practically no filler.

And in Newell's defense, "Anytime" does kinda sound like Weezer. That's probably my least favorite track, and its still pretty good.
Newell
Blog Party

psssst, DAVE, I was talking about “wonderful man”. but thanks.
Scott
Community Mantra

"Anytime" is great. The chorus lyrics are dry, but my lord, those guitars...


It's possible this is the beginning of a horrible new MMJ, but I still enjoy the shit out of this album, and I definitely still think "Knot Comes Loose" would make me weep like Chris Martin watching Extreme Makeover: Home Edition if I saw him play it live, solo.

Peter
A talking llama

two listens and Im with Aaron. Maybe I will come around, but none of this matches anything on Tennessee Fire or At Dawn
Newell
Blog Party

*gives five on the white hand side*
Chet
some skinny white kid

how many times am I going to have to say "Dondante"?
Dave M. Goldstein
Statute of Frauds

This record is becoming more appealing to these ears by the day. The hooks actually took less time to settle in than those on It Still Moves. Whether or not I'll get as much mileage out of Z as I did with that record is questionable due to its shorter length and poppier sheen, but its undeniably very good. Songs that struck me as B-side fodder the first time around (e.g. "Wordless Chorus") have revealed themselves to be serious keepers.
Newell
Blog Party

More fuel for fire on the whole baby joke thing:

From sashafrerejones.com:

Thinking, while watching ESPN (sort of) of the uselessness of “disposability” as a critical concept: your Sudafed is my crystal meth. How do you know when my song’s run dry? How does any type of music signal disposability? Don’t long, baggy, story songs, even ones you like, present more like one-use items to you, like long, baggy novels that you enjoyed but will never read again? Maybe I want to feel like “Chewing Gum” EVERY FUCKING DAY. So why would I dispose of it? I’M NOT DONE WITH IT. This axiom obviously applies equally in reverse, in every direction. If you never, ever get tired of “Hurricane,” then it isn’t disposable. So: “disposability” is a useless metric, a dumbass way of discussing music. It would be more useful—if this is what you meant—to say, “I got quickly bored of the song,” because who can argue with your experience?


That blog is pretty disposable though.
Scott
Community Mantra

Because everything's subjective? I hate the word 'custard,' if James sang that 80 times in a song, it'd probably drive me nuts.

But the baby thing is one line in a fantastic song. With this huge, awesome "Broken Arrow" structure going on. I mean, sure, you hate dead baby jokes, but how could you possibly hate that chorus?
 

« Home »

Author
.Topic: My Morning Jacket "Z"
Newell
Blog Party


I don't hate the chorus. I hate that line though.

Yeah Rod Stewart’s "Broken Arrow" has always been a fave.

We should all get in on this review and ruin Scott’s party. It'd be hilarious. or selves-indulgent.

Scott - do you hate the word custard, or actual custard?
Scott
Community Mantra

The word.

Neil's "Broken Arrow."

And the line's at the very beginning. and then the song moves on for many glorious minutes. That voice...

GIVE IN, NEWELL
Newell
Blog Party

neil huh. I knew that.

I would like to add that voxtrot is the next the hold steady.
Dom
"The Future belongs to Freedom"

so, i've gotten a chance to listen to this once all the way through, and listen to "Wordless Chorus" a bunch of times... i just feel a bit uneasy listening to it, like I'm waiting for it to completely fall apart...the lyrics to "Knot Comes Loose" just bother me, they're not especially trite, just bland and half-assed, and "Off the Record" turns from a Toasters B-side into some weird mishmash of, i dunno, new wave and island music...doesn't sit well, meh

but "What a Wonderful Man" is a hell of a lot of fun
Scott
Community Mantra

Dom. Not you, too.
Dom
"The Future belongs to Freedom"

no worries, like i said, it's only a one-listen kinda reaction...but seriously, james is in super sappy mode here; i've never been a huge fan of their lyrics, and usually they didn't matter much...but here? The babies song is good

which reminds me: back when Andrew Bird was being introduced at Intonation, the dude who "MC'd" it all recited some lyrics from "Sovay"...it was horrible, and it made the lyrics sound like a waste of language...you could see Bird standing at the back of the stage absolutely terrified by what the guy was doing
Edgar White
Real

......
Well, I thought the lyrics were nice. ..
Scott
Community Mantra

Oh, Edgar White.
Newell
Blog party

i tried.

and i tried. and tried. I kept at it. repeatedly. to the chagrin of abbie, even.

and now i really like this.

so yum, my words. mmm.
clayton9purdom
"i'm very good looking"

newell's word-eating - 86%
Newell
Blog Party

what did it was getting over the caterwauling on 'wordless chorus', and then listening to dondante a zillion times in a row until that part where jim chokes on his own emoting became cool.
Chet
some skinny white kid

dude, that was cool on day one
Peter
A talking llama

yeah, I'm starting to come around on it as well. Still doesn't live up to the last three, but I enjoy it.
Dom
"The Future belongs to Freedom"

alright, so i'm running after the bandwagon here, calling to my women and children, because after putting this down for a bit, i came back and the whole thing seemed to open up wide.

i think at first i was disappointed by the lack of much ambling, slowly enthralling pieces, except for, say, "dondante." but this thing just seems more concise. better realized as a whole. "off the record" is just a lame song, though, and "anytime" is obnoxious, except when jim james says, "TO the moon" and his voice cracks...i find that charming. by "Lay Low," the album's starting to drag, but not like when Tennesse Fire goes into it's last third. so, i think what i'm getting at is that this album seems to have more of a unifying focus than anything they've done before, which doesn't make it better than the albums before, just, for me, makes it the most unnerving thing i've heard from them before it all sinks in.

am i alone with "What a Wonderful Man?" goddamn i love that song. "I was not sure what a wonderful man he was, what a sensuous man he was..." That "sensuous" there just feels so right. and because it just proves wrong so many preconceptions i've had about the band.
Newell
Blog Party

i like "off the record", I still think it sounds a little elvis costello, but it's almost got a faux-ragga umbrella-in-drink thing going on. It's a BBQ song.

Up to track 9, the whole album is a bbq album, actually.
Chet
some skinny white kid

haha, fuck yeah, my opinion's consuming all of you.


"What a Wonderful Man" is great. But, Dom, so is "Off the Record."
Dom
"The Future belongs to Freedom"

yeah, i think the "faux-ragga" feeling just doesn't sit well
Greenwald
Psycho boogz

My official commentary on this album is that it's great and I'm really happy it's shorter than the last couple, because I can't listen to albums over 45 minutes (unless they're Sufjan Stevens). [Ed: No, he's not kidding, and we didn't add that to poke fun at him...]

I really like "It Beats 4 U" and "Anytime."
Scott
Community Mantra

So we're agreed: the album's great or at least really good, Aaron's a ridiculous flipflopper, "Off the Record's" OK but probably the album's worst, "What a Wonderful Man" should be a single (and much bigger than "Beverly Hills," and soon, please), and everyone always eventually agrees with Chet.

We should let him argue this record with readers that hate the record, he'll turn them around.

Actually, it'd be funny if we did a Crossfire-style review on this and just call each other stupid the entire time.
Chet
some skinny white kid

tucker carlson should be involved. the more we have tucker carlson on our site, the better.
Newell
Blog Party

is that the bowtie guy?
Scott
Community Mantra

Yeah
Tucker Carlson
"the bowtie guy"

Leave me alone


clayton9purdom
"i'm very good looking"

and we also need a pundit that makes contradictory superlatives about the album based on whatever people just said. like, "this is the best album of the 21st century" followed by, "jim james is obviously a nazi that hates both music and jesus."


Scott
Community Mantra

That sounds like work.
Chet
some skinny white kid

i say we just cut and paste this whole thread and call that the review