My Morning Jacket
MMJ no longer sounds like the band that recorded It Still Moves, but no other band will ever be able to sound like the new MMJ without developing time travel. How else could you hope to ape Evil Urges, their kick-ass new release that couldn’t possibly have been recorded in this decade? Sure the band has always been a throwback, but creating songs such as the 100-percent irony-free soft-rock ballad “Thank You Too” and “Highly Suspicious” - a glorious combination of pop catchiness and spastic enthusiasm - hasn't been possible since Michael Jackson turned into a monster.
Directions to See a Ghost
The Black Angels
(Light in the Attic)
And speaking of time travel, can we please take up a collection and send the Black Angels to the late 1960s? I don’t want them to go away, necessarily, but they’d be so much happier there, in that magic time when playing the same fuzzy note for 17 goddamn minutes was cutting-edge and a 20-something singing about fighting in the Vietnam War wasn’t unintentionally hilarious. The Austin group’s sophomore album follows the debut’s blueprint without reconstructing its immediate appeal (or quite conjuring the ghost of Jim Morrison), though songs like “Vikings” and “Snake in the Grass” find moments of acid-washed beauty in all the horror, the horror.
Some of the songs here (“75 Bars,” “Lost Desire,” the much-too-brief “Becoming Unwritten” and “Unwritten”) deliver on percussionist ?uestlove’s promise of a “more intense” sound, mostly via buzzing synthesizers and RZA-esque keyboard loops, but the move away from their original live-band emphasis still seems a huge mistake, and the lyrical content is lacking, overcrowded with guest verses, lazy lines, and empty bragging. I doubt the Roots are “getting paper like John Travolta,” and the line “y’all off the wall like Arsenio Hall” must’ve been stolen from a 2 Live Jews freestyle. More legitimate is artist Wale’s complaint “good rappers ain’t eatin’, they Olsen Twinnin’.” Now that’s a celebrity metaphor.