Wednesday, August 27, 2008

WTF? etc etc

I am a big fan, as I'm sure all the rest of you are, of the Southern-Country-Rock-Folk stylings of My Morning Jacket.

They are a wonderfully reliable band; rustic as toast and as American as swinging saloon doors or large helpings of pancake.

You know what you'll get from Jim James and MMJ - dusty singalongs and big guitar freakouts. Reverb drenched vocals and aching croon. Long, meandering songs about dawn, fires and, er, dancefloors. They are one of the bands who made Americana fashionable again and hence paved the way for the likes of Band of Horses (yay!) and Fleet Foxes (meh!). And they also wrote this, probably the single greatest song to have on loud in the car whilst driving a bit fast:

My Morning Jacket - 05 - One Big Holiday.mp3

And they have a new album out! Hurrah! More of the same! Brilliant. I'll just dust off my chaps and be with you in a minute. In fact, whilst I'm out polishing my rhinestone (stop sniggering at the back, its a bugger to clean), why don't you have a listen to this track from Evil Urges? I'll be back with you in a minute to discuss the excellent banjo-picking, the howl-at-the-moon vocal and the dreamy, aching sense of reminiscence. I can't wait...

03 highly suspicious.mp3

Oh.

WTF?

Etc.

Y'see, Evil Urges is a great great album. It really is. It's brave, it's stylistically varied. It's emotional. It's playful. But it is getting very, VERY mixed reviews and I think this track may be the biggest reason of all. Its a total and complete curveball.

I actually quite like the song, in context. I reckon the chorus is stonking but I can't go for the lyrics in the verse and that weird giggling does my head in every time. Its such a shift that it really has taken reviewers and listeners by surprise.

Would pitchfork, DiS, the Guardian et al have given the album more praise without it? Or is that exactly the point? Its hard to say, but the album as a whole really does reward you, if you can get past the shock and give it some time.

So, can anyone else think of examples of artists making massive, surprising and not-always-effective handbrake turns like this?

13 comments:

Mnemonic said...

I picked up Evil Urges on a sampler from "The Line of Best Fit" (a good blog for freebies, by the way) and absolutely love it. Never been particularly keen on My Morning Jacket before that but am now catching up on the backlist. Glad to see another "meh" for Fleet Foxes, though I don't mind the occasional track.

snadfrod said...

I loved Fleet Foxes' Sun Giant EP, and have played the album loads of times and always enjoy it. When it's finished, though, I can never remember any song on it and have no desire to go back and start again. Its just sort of disappeared of my radar because I just could never muster up enough love for it. Odd.

saneshane said...

different strokes eh...

'Highly Suspicious' is ace..
kinda princed out there didn't they?
only know 'Gideon' well so not an expert, but yeah.. if you stumble on that it may be a shocker.

Blimpy said...

donds for what snad said about fleet foxes being ace but forgettable

Shoey said...

Ditto's & feel the same about Calexico & Sufjan (always want to say Shaking) Stevens.

Scritti Politti have done a lot of handbrake turns in their career. Skank Blanc Bologna - Sweetest Girl - 80's over-produced pop - Hip Hop - Home studio stuff on White Bread. Green's voice remained a constant though.

ToffeeBoy said...

@ shoey - if you buy/listen to one Sufjan Stevens album, please make it 'Come On Feel The Illinois' - this is anything but forgettable. I have several more of his albums which I have to say I've struggled with.

Shoey said...

Thanks Toffee, will try that.

Mnemonic said...

I'll dond "Come On Feel the Illimoise". I think it's a truly great album and on Fleet Foxes, I quite enjoyed the EP and just feel a bit let down by the album. I keep turning it off before the end out of a mixture of boredom and mild irritation.

Blimpy said...

more donds for Illinoise, i think i need to dig it out and have a listen .

paul Weller has much love for fleet foxes on the page of this week;s nme i just happen to be reading right now; he says "it sounds like old fashioned church music........truly amazing"

Shoey said...

Gary Numan's 2000 album "Pure" sounded like Nine Inch Nails.

MMJ are playing the local House of Blues this weekend. Feel inspired to tag along with some friends who are going, so thanks Snad.

TracyK said...

My bloke is a big MMJ fan, we caught the last 10 minutes of their set at Glasto in, crikey, 2003. They looked seriously bedraggled, had no shoes on and were jamming with their eyes shut, first band on the NME stage on Friday, excellent! I love the quality of sound on the Sweatbees ep. Agree with the Fleet Foxes, hubby plays it in the car a fair bit and I like it but every time I annoy him by saying "This is quite nice: who is it?".

TonNL said...

A nice mashup of MMJ, Hercules & Love Affair and US3 (found thanks to the Hype Machine):

http://ifitsgood.wordpress.com/2008/05/21/mash-up-by-immuzikation-my-morning-jacket-hercules-and-love-affair-us3/

I actually like the new MMJ album a lot......

DarceysDad said...

Musical handbrake turns?

Donds for Calexico.

Led Zep twixt II & III, maybe?

Don't forget DsD's All-Time Best Album In The World fits that bill. Only with hindsight could you see Talk Talk's Spirit Of Eden coming after The Colour Of Spring.

Sinead O'Connor's made a couple of WTF? albums - Am I Not Your Girl's schmooze, and Throw Down Your Arms' reggae/roots.

BRMC, anyone?

I covered this next one in the Cult albums thread: Sass Jordan - Rats. Pap Pop beforehand, limp MOR/AOR after, but Rats rocks like a bastard. (Why does that phrase exist? What DOES a bastard rock like? Never understood that one.)

Willard Grant Conspiracy's Let It Roll suffered a similar fate to Evil Urges: opener From A Distant Shore carried on the gothic folk where previous album Regard The End left off, but the second song Let It Roll itself) is a 9 min rock guitar hurricane. Track 3 is a 7 minute love song that is so tender I used it as Darcey's 3am-insomniac lullaby; and so on.
Brilliant, BRILLIANT album, imo.