Back in 2002, Goose and I saw Guided By Voices at Trees. It was an amazing show, albeit the things you'd expect at a GBV show. Bob Pollard bounced around the stage drinking beer after beer. They played something like 40 songs in over two hours. Nate Farley was so drunk by the end of it that Tim Tobias was telling him which chords to play. This show ended up being the only time that Goose or I would see GBV. It was also the first time we ever heard of My Morning Jacket.
At this point, MMJ was a relatively unknown band with two proper records out. Following the end of their tour with Guided By Voices, they would tour with Doves, become one of Dave Grohl's favorite new bands and sign with RCA Records' ATO imprint. Since then, the band has released two stellar albums, It Still Moves and Z, and has toured all over. I am happy to see this promising band deliver and grow. Their DVD/CD set, Okonokos, serves as a reminder as to why I love this band.
While the two-disc CD is good, the single-disc DVD is essential viewing. Set against a swamp-forest stage set with an impressive light show, the band tears through most of Z, some of It Still Moves, a couple At Dawn songs and even a song from their Does Christmas Fiasco Style EP. There's not a bad moment herel they just play and that's perfectly fine with me.
Shortly into the DVD, I remembered their trademark stage move. Whenever they go into a jam out part, Jim James moves a few steps to his right, Two Tone Tommy moves side-to-side and Patrick Hallahan flails away on the drums. These three guys have some long hair on their heads and it always flies around when they do this part of the song. By now, this is a standard sight for MMJ fans, but this reminded me of what drew me to the band in the first place.
There's a good reason why guitar solos/jams are frowned upon: they detour from the song at hand. So seeing a band jam out opening for a band known for rarely breaking the three-minute mark, I thought this was an odd fit. The deal is, MMJ never strays from the song at hand when they jam. There are no extended solos or any sort of wankery. Plus, the songs are really tuneful. Three years down the line, this is still the case.
It's not like I completely forgot about My Morning Jacket, but Okonokos serves as a testament as to why they are one of the best bands out there. However, trying to describe their sound to someone at this point is insanely difficult. Thinking about how a lot bands are described these days, calling MMJ a Lynyrd Skynyrd/Radiohead hybrid or the Flaming Lips covering Neil Young really cheapens their actual sound. They have touches of those sounds, but so much more. Here's a clip so you can judge for yourself.