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Instant Expert: My Morning Jacket

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Cory Schwart, Getty Images
You’ve seen them at parties, lurking in the corner, waiting to engage in battle disguised as conversation. They’re indie rock know-it-alls, and no matter what band or musician you mention, they’ve got an opinion — strong and almost certainly negative — ready to ram down your throat. With our new feature Instant Expert, we offer preparation for these very situations. Each Thursday, in advance of your weekend carousing, we pick an artist and provide a quickie career overview, highlighting both prevailing critical opinions and the inevitable contrarian counterarguments. Even if you’re completely unfamiliar with the music, you’ll be able to bluff your way through and defend your indie cred. Next up: My Morning Jacket.


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The Gist

 
 

Frontman Jim James formed My Morning Jacket in his native Louisville, Ky., in the late 1990s with fellow bearded friends from around the area. The band’s earlier albums -- recorded in a grain silo on a farm outside The 'Ville -- alternate between stripped-down acoustic and country-infused rock, with later work descending into the psychedelic and experimental realm. Through their decade plus career, the band has become a staple of the festival circuit and one of the most noted live bands of their generation thanks to their marathon live performances, trip-inducing light show and strategic use of gigantic dancing puppets.

 
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Critical Consensus

 
 

The band may have garnered their own Deadhead following with their stoner-friendly, reverb-soaked second and third albums, ‘At Dawn’ and ‘It Still Moves,’ respectively, but it wasn’t until 2005’s ‘Z’ that the Jacket first gained critical and commercial success. The notoriety came a result of solid, studio-polished tracks and a newly cemented lineup. Songs like ‘Dondante' and ‘Wordless Chorus’ stayed true to their mellow-but-heavy roots, while others showed the growing experimental sound that lead to 2008’s funk-laden ‘Evil Urges.’ My Morning Jacket's most recent album, ‘Circuital’ (2011), steps back into their DIY recording style -- this time in a church gym -- and is arguably their most straightforward album.

 
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Contrarian Counterargument

 
 

Their experimental albums can’t hold a dark light to the epic nine and half minute jams on ‘It Still Moves.' ‘One Big Holiday’ is the most epic finale.

 
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Counter-counterargument

 
 

Their experimental albums are excessive and bloated. Acoustic Jim is all they need.

 
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Whatever You Do, Don’t Say This

 
 

'They're Kentucky-fried songs are the best. There're like a psychedelic Lynyrd Skynyrd.'

 

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