Tag Archives: My Morning Jacket

Sound Gaze

Sound Gaze

Wanted to post quickly about Sound Gaze for two reasons. First, I wanted to thank Doug for having me on this weekend. He’s a class act, and if you’re not a regular listener, I’d highly recommend tuning into WDCE on Saturdays or subscribing to the podcast and catching up throughout the week. (I can confirm that it’s an excellent running podcast.)

Second, I thought I’d offer a few corrections and clarifications from Saturday, because I clearly have the recall of an overwhelmed chipmunk:

  • The new Head and the Heart album, Signs of Light, comes out on September 9.
  • The new Hiss Golden Messenger album, Heart Like a Levee, comes out on October 7.
  • I saw Xenia Rubinos open for Son Lux, not Son Little. In my defense, both shows happened at Strange Matter, and both were completely awesome.
  • That My Morning Jacket album I mentioned (with the amazing deluxe vinyl version) is The Waterfall.
  • Jump, Little Children did, in fact, form in North Carolina, though Wikipedia lists Charleston, South Carolina as their pre-breakup “adopted hometown.”
  • Apologies for smacking my gums before talking. I don’t think I normally do that, which makes it extra weird that I’d repeatedly do it on the radio.
  • Once again, I apologize for abusing the word “incredible,” though, if I were pressed, I’d probably defend any individual use of it.

I talked about having Carl Broemel’s album on hold at BK Music in part because I originally had “In The Dark” in my mix for Saturday but had to make some tough cuts, so I thought I’d share it below. I really, really like this Broemel album. I went straight to BK after the show to grab it and had it spinning just this morning. Well worth a listen, if you haven’t heard it.

Thanks again, Doug, and thanks to everyone who listened.

Carl Broemel — “In The Dark” [Spotify/iTunes]

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5×5 Regrets

Regrets

(Click here to browse my 5 original year-in-review posts.)

While Mrs. YHT was making a delicious Mexican corn chowder thing the other night, a song that was released in 2012 came on our under-cabinet CD player — yes, we still have (and use) an under-cabinet CD player — and a wave of regret began to wash over me. No… that metaphor isn’t strong enough. Hearing this particular song was more like regret giving me a spirited kick to the nuts. (You’ll find out which tune it was in a minute.)

In some ways I’m glad it happened, because there are a few artists and albums I’d take a mulligan to include, either because I screwed up or because of my short-sighted — albeit merciful, for sleep-getting reasons — decision to limit myself to 5 of each superlative category.

If you’ll indulge me, I promise not to ever talk about 2012 again.

OK, I can’t promise that, but indulge me anyways?

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Bobby Bare Jr.

A Storm, A Tree, My Mother's Head

Sometimes finding out about a band late is torturous. Like when the group just broke up or is on a clear creative decline. Or, worse yet, when one or more of the founding members have died and the band is touring around the country like a zombie version of themselves. In all these cases, you can still listen to tunes from the glory days, but you have to accept that you’ve missed out on something that simply can’t be recovered. Other times, though, being the last to know isn’t so bad. Under the right circumstances, discovering an artist after everyone else can feel great, like you’re walking into a party that’s already in full swing. That’s just how I’d characterize my first two weeks of listening to Bobby Bare Jr.

When I first heard about Bare, I was a few days away from heading to his hometown of Nashville, TN for a friend’s wedding. Not to get too touchy-feely here, but c’mon; what’re the odds of me hearing about him right before my first trip to the center of the country music universe? (Bare’s father is country veteran, having charted albums for decades and written, according to Wikipedia, the world’s one and only Christian football waltz — “Dropkick Me Jesus (Though The Goalposts Of Life).”) Did I mention that I heard about him from a friend who, at the time, didn’t know I was going to Nashville? As far as happy coincidences go, this was a pretty crazy one.

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Queen

“Every day becomes better when listening to Queen.”

This quotation was culled from a tweet posted by the esteemed proprietor of Richmond Playlist, and I have to say that truer words were never spoken. When is the last time you heard a Queen song without your mood improving? I mean seriously, whose day was ever ruined by “Don’t Stop Me Now” or “Under Pressure“? And don’t get me started on “Fat Bottomed Girls,” a song that’s so awesome I had a hard time believing it was real the first time I heard it. Well just yesterday, a friend sent me a link to videographic evidence that conclusively proves this assertion beyond a shadow of a doubt. In the above clip, a drunk Canadian man sits in the back of a Royal Mounted Canadian Police car, having been arrested for, well, being drunk. But does he take that shit lying down? Hell no. He dusts off his vocal chords and performs “Bohemian Rhapsody” IN ITS ENTIRETY. Take that Mounties! This brave performer (who looks like the illegitimate love-child of Jim James of My Morning Jacket and Patterson Hood of the Drive-By Truckers) clearly comes out the better man in this scenario and most certainly has some serious Internet stardom coming his way. The moral of the story? Queen makes everything better. So try not to get arrested this weekend, but if you do end up in the back of a cop car, you know what to do.

Queen — “Bohemian Rhapsody

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Bob Dylan

Chimes of Freedom

Bob Dylan has written a lot of songs. More like a shit-ton of songs. As in, if he had a nickel for every song he wrote, he could pull a Scrooge McDuck and take a daily dip in his pool of nickels. What I’m trying to say is there are a lot of Bob Dylan tunes out there, and if someone tells you with a straight face they know every single one, it’s completely acceptable to give them this face in return. His catalog is a such big mountain to climb, and let’s be honest; the thought of listening to all of his albums back to back would make even the most fervent fanatic blink once or twice. There are just so many damn lyrics. Good lord. But his being so prolific is, of course, a gift, not a curse. You can keep discovering new reasons to love him, even if you’ve already heard hundreds of his songs, and that’s where covers become particularly handy. Hearing other musicians interpret Bob Dylan’s music is one of the best ways to visit the parts of his dark and brilliant brain you haven’t been to yet, and just last night my friend and musical sherpa Clay alerted me to an amazing cache of 76 such covers. Assembled to benefit Amnesty International and released less than a month ago, Chimes of Freedom: The Music of Bob Dylan offers takes on Dylan tunes by everyone under the sun, including Elvis Costello, K’naan, Adele, Bettye LaVette, Pete Townshend, Bad Religion… really the list goes on and on and on. It’s nuts. And [be sure to read this in your best and most disproportionately loud Billy Mays* voice] ALL 76 OF THESE SONGS CAN BE YOURS FOR THE LOW, LOW PRICE OF $19.99! Crazy, eh? So many thoughtful and revealing covers at roughly a quarter a pop AND a large chunk of the money goes to a charitable organization. Everyone wins! Hell, you may even be able to write off the purchase on your taxes (I have no idea if this is true. It’s probably not. You Hear That Financial Services, L.L.C. isn’t exactly street legal, and may or may not, in fact, exist). I’m still making my way through the whole collection, but check out two of my favorites so far, — My Morning Jacket doing “You’re A Big Girl Now” and Raphael Saadiq doing “Leopard-Skin Pill-Box Hat.” Hey, did you know Raphael Saadiq was in Tony! Toni! Toné!? SRSLY! Listen below and click here to snag Chimes of Freedom from iTunes.

My Morning Jacket — “You’re A Big Girl Now” (Bob Dylan cover)

Raphael Saadiq — “Leopard-Skin Pill-Box Hat” (Bob Dylan cover)

*RIP, Billy. Something tells me Saint Peter is well stocked with Oxy Clean, whether he needed it or not.

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Whistle Peak

Half Asleep Upon Echo Falls

WHEN I SAY LOUISVILLE, YOU SAY… electro-folk-pop? Damn right, electro-folk-pop. What did you think I was gonna say? “Bats?” (Thank god Wikipedia is back so I could find the name of Louisville’s AAA baseball team. By the way, SOPA and PIPA suck.) Whistle Peak does indeed hail from the bluegrass state (actually Kentucky is a commonwealth, just like my good Ol’ Dominion, but we’re cool. Massachusetts and Pennsylvania won’t say anything either), but they set their sights on a style much less traditional than bluegrass when they made Half Asleep Upon Echo Falls, their sophomore album, which is slated for a Valentine’s Day release. Before we go any further, I do know that their state… [AHEM] commonwealth is nicknamed after an actual type of grass, not the string-pickin’ genre, but give me a break here. I haven’t yet written about many bands from Kentucky — My Morning Jacket being one notable exception — and I’m really excited about Whistle Peak, a group that offers an exceptional balance of sounding different and cohesive at the same time. Half Asleep is one of those rare invitations to step into a different world, one that feels like it has its own unique landscape, climate and culture. The instrumentation and execution are distinctive (the prominence of the ukulele certainly stands out), and while the percussion sounds vary from track to track along with a diverse set of texture-massaging samples, these elements never feel detached or unrelated. Half Asleep is so pleasing to enjoy from start to finish in part because it offers variety within a specific imaginary space, giving the listener a comprehensive tour of this uncanny world. And to my ears, it sounds like Half Asleep‘s slightly off-kilter universe is weighed down by an ever so slightly inflated gravitational pull, as if its inhabitants enjoy all the joys and excitement that us Earth humans do, just on a slightly muted basis. Or maybe this alternate race of humanoids simply evolved to be shorter and squatter than we did. Either way, the filtered vocals and descending melodies have a weight that, even in the album’s most freewheeling moments, keeps the mood grounded. And I love it. If that extra gravity keeps me on this strange and distant planet a little while longer, that’s A-OK with me. Preview “Wings Won’t Behave” below to see what I mean and pre-order Half Asleep Upon Echo Falls here.

Whistle Peak — “Wings Won’t Behave

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Carl Broemel

All Birds Say

Sometimes you have to take an unpopular stance, though it’s nice when you have a good friend standing unpopularly with you. My buddy Coyle and I are both staunch supporters of the most divisive song in the entirety of the My Morning Jacket catalog. That’s right, Coyle and I are proud members of team “Highly Suspicious.” I’m pretty sure we both like it for the same reason, too — the hilarious, over-the-top serious way Carl Broemel, co-lead guitarist and backup singer to Jim James, delivers the song’s title lyrics. Watch the band performing the song on Austin City Limits to see what I mean…

How can you not love that? It falls in some strange netherworld between parody and badassery, and ever since the first time I saw a video of “Highly Suspicious” being staged, I’ve watched Broemel with an added sense of enjoyment. That’s why I was so elated when the wonderful people at Daytrotter recently posted a session that finds Broemel performing 4 of his own songs that I had no idea existed, all of which can be found on an album he released last year called All Birds Say. I dove into the record as soon as I could, and it didn’t take long to learn that Broemel is as gifted at writing solo material as he is at the guitar-thrashing, falsetto-floating duties he executes so expertly as a member of My Morning Jacket. All Birds Say is a mellow record to be sure, but there’s a great deal going on in these largely down-tempo songs worth noting, including a fascinating relationship between theme and substance. Many of the songs deal with the idea of spare time, surely a commodity when you’re part of an overwhelmingly successful band, with titles like “Sunday Drivers” and “Retired,” and lyrics like “I was waiting for the moment to be perfectly clear, when the world would stop and let me catch up,” and “save an hour for yourself.” Images like these appear throughout, and pair perfectly with the choice of tempo and mood. Too perfectly, in fact. That’s what’s most interesting about All Birds Say — it’s a leisurely sounding record about trying to find time for leisure, which, as any busy person can attest, is hard work. After doing some research, I wasn’t surprised to find that he recorded the album one song at a time, whenever he had an opportunity, over the course of 4 or 5 years, so it’s no wonder he’s focused on those elusive spare moments. Even his guitar work reflects this odd coupling of efficiency and relaxation. “Questions” features a walkdown that sounds so breezy on the surface it could have followed a drunk down the street in an old Disney cartoon, but it includes just about every single in-between note that particular scale can hold. So loose, yet so tight at the same time. And these extra, in-between notes are everywhere on All Birds Say. I’m enjoying the album so much I can’t decide which song to recommend, so I’m including performance videos of three of my favorites — “Questions,” “Carried Away,” and “Heaven Knows,” where he pushes the leisure theme even further by playing the song on an autoharp in the middle of a round of golf. Check out these three great songs below, his Daytrotter session here (you’re a member already, right?), and buy All Birds Say here.

Carl Broemel — “Questions

Carl Broemel — “Carried Away

Carl Broemel — “Heaven Knows

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