Top 100 Artists of the Decade: #64 My Morning Jacket
The Top 100 Artists of the Decade list will be posted over the course of 100 days. On September 23rd, we will post one artist and continue every day until December 31st, when we will unveil our #1 artist of the decade!
Please read our introduction to learn about our nominating and ordering process.
#64 My Morning Jacket
The band's moniker, My Morning Jacket, rose like a phoenix from the ashes of lead singer Jim James' favorite bar, embroidered on a coat he found after it burned down in the late 90s, but My Morning Jacket is still on fire. Since its inception in 1998 (albeit with a few major member changes) the Kentucky quintet has been pigeonholed by many as "alt-country," but the band has continued to successfully reinvent its sound over its almost ten-year tenure just enough to keep critics interested, but never enough to sever ties with earlier fans.
Just when you thought they had perfected that Southern reverb-laden rock sound in It Still Moves (2003), along comes experimental Z, wooing listeners with the cult classic "Wordless Chorus," which proved especially popular with the lyrically challenged. As it turns out, the only element that can be identified as consistent throughout the band's discography, apart from the clear, unerring vocals of James, is the reverb applied amply to every album until the latest, Evil Urges, which, with a motley crew of often disparate melodies, marks a new era for MMJ—one that traded in the tried-and-true lo-fi production techniques for a more calculated record.
My Morning Jacket's versatility as a band is evidenced not only by their musical diversity but also by their choice of venues. From playing the mellower side of their repertoire with the Boston Pops at Beantown's own Symphony Hall, where the ushered, seated audience included season ticketholders expecting Gershwin and Brahms, to sharing the stage with Metallica during a four-hour set at their fifth Bonnaroo appearance this past June, My Morning Jacket does not fail to deliver. Which might be one reason why "Where to Begin" was featured in Elizabethtown, showing that good songs can happen to bad movies. James' haunting appearance with Calexico in the 2007 Bob Dylan biopic I'm Not There performing "Goin' to Acapulco," the only Dylan cover to make the cut in the film itself, confirms the singer's place with the greats.
In fact, James puts on such a riveting performance - complete with, jumps, kicks, and something that resembles a slide tackle - that it comes as no surprise that his theatrical éclat would cause him to overstep his dramatic bounds at a University of Iowa concert earlier this October, causing MMJ to cancel their 2008 Fall European Tour and an Obama benefit concert. While we don't know if, by donning a cape during the current tour, James is simply celebrating Halloween prematurely or using it as a leitmotiv for bats - and, therefore, evil - we do know that we love his band's style, which gives us urges of our own.
- Sarah Gagnon
Check back tomorrow for the next artist! To see the full list of the Top 100 Artists of the Decade, click here.