My Morning Jacket is a four-piece band from Louisville, KY, built solidly around the vocal and songwriting talent of group leader Jim James. Their sound is lonesome, haunting, almost classic country at times, and that voice -- James' voice shares the same section of that old country highway with the familiar sounds of Neil Young, yet sounds right at home here in the world of independent American pop music, alongside contemporary singers like the Flaming Lips' Wayne Coyne and Galaxie 500's Dean Wareham. Like Galaxie 500, My Morning Jacket weaves songs and sounds together perfectly -- underneath the big open sky filled with bright stars of course -- never allowing the heavy reverb (and the reverb is definitely heavy) to subtract anything from the visual lyrics, or from the simple beauty of the songs themselves.
Along with singer Jim James, My Morning Jacket was founded with his cousin Johnny Quaid (guitar), Two-Tone Tommy (bass), and J. Glenn (drums). The band released their debut on Darla Records in 1999, the critically acclaimed The Tennessee Fire, and found themselves gaining popularity not only in the United States, but in Europe as well, the Benelux countries being particularly fond of My Morning Jacket. They were later featured in a Dutch documentary film after constant praise from the Dutch music press. The band's second album, At Dawn, found My Morning Jacket virtually unchanged (but with two new members: Danny Cash riding keyboards and KC Guetig on the drums) with more of the same high-quality writing: hauntingly beautiful melodies all drenched with that (by now) familiar reverb and featuring that unique and emotive voice. Upon its release in America, James' best friend from childhood, Patrick Hallahan, stepped in to play drums.
My Morning Jacket lives in a world of wide-open spaces covered with a velvet sky, not alt-country, not indie rock, just beautify classic Americana music. By 2003, the band had toured with the likes of Guided by Voices, the Doves, the Foo Fighters, and the Burning Brides. However, by the time their major-label release for RCA/ATO, It Still Moves, was released in September, touring began to take its toll on Quaid and Cash. Critics and fans hailed It Still Moves as the band's best, but Quaid and Cash decided to leave it all behind when they announced their departure in January 2004. Bo Koster (keyboards) and Carl Broemel (guitar) joined My Morning Jacket on the road shortly thereafter to make the band a unified five-piece once again. John Leckie produced My Morning Jacket's fourth album, Z, which was released in fall 2005. The next year the group issued a live album, Okonokos -- most of which came from It Still Moves and Z -- as well as a concert DVD of the same name. [AMG Terrance Miles]