My Morning Jacket

A regular guide to new bands heading your way

So, who the hell are they?
Louisville, Kentucky residents Jim James (lead vocals, guitar), Johnny Quaid (guitar), Tommy Blankenship (bass), Danny Cash (keyboards), and Patrick Hallahan (drums). Their awesome, semi-acoustic, reverb-heavy dreaminess is inspired by a vision of combining rock'n'roll with the Muppet Show and Disney.

Scruffy young hipcats who have had those jackets on for a lot longer than a morning.

Disney? The Muppets?
Tut tut. Think back to your childhood. Remember those songs that used to accompany films like The Jungle Book and Bambi? So does Jim James. He grew up in awe of the eerie, instantly memorable numbers. Same went for the Muppets. "There were these fucked-up puppets everywhere," he says, "but they were singing these beautiful songs." His masterstroke is to combine that nursery magic with plangent, ringing, grown-up, slightly Neil Young-y rock.

Intriguing. Has he always been this way?
James has been making music most of his life, much of it with Johnny Quaid, his cousin. MMJ formed in 1998, rehearsing on Quaid's grandparents' farm. There they created their emotional, experimental sound and developed some unusual influences (Roy Orbison, Nina Simone, Etta James) and a fondness for unlikely covers (everything from Rod Stewart's Hot Legs to Bill Monroe's Blue Moon of Kentucky).

What wacky chaps. So then what?
Bizarrely enough, it all took off in the Netherlands. A Dutch journalist got hold of their Darla Records debut, Tennessee Fire, and wrote a huge article. Suddenly, MMJ made all the Dutch critics' top 10 lists. Interest spread back home, and now everybody from the New York Times to Foo Fighters' Dave Grohl and Doves are fans.

Buy if:
You remember that supernatural, emotional tug you got gazing up at Disney films on screens much bigger than you.

Don't buy if:
You're too busy telling your own kids to turn off that slasher movie and stop listening to Eminem.

So where can I hear this stuff?
My Morning Jacket's Sweatbees EP is released by Wichita on November 25.


Dave Simpson

The GuardianTramp

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