It Still Moves / Acoustic Citsouca / Z / Okonokos
Following their seperation from major label backer Sony BMG, Dave Matthews' ATO records have taken the opportunity to re-release their exisiting My Morning Jacket catalogue, which not entirely by coincidence ties-in with the release of the latest MMJ record Evil Urges, due next week.
It Still Moves - 2003 - 4 Stars
It Still Moves was considered the major label debut for the band after the success of The Tennesse Fire and At Dawn. As an album it's not particulalry cohesive, but it plays out nicely as a collection of great songs - and is a logical major label sequel to the home-grown efforts of the earlier records. The record provides little evolution from those records, but it magnificently showcases everything that there is to like about the band, from the opener Magheeta, through the rolling guitars of Golden or Just One Thing to the pounding rock of Steam Engine.
While many of its charming songs have since been overshadowed by the tightly honed follow up Z, It Still Moves provides for a great listen and is home to many of MMJ's staple live songs like Run Thru and Golden - plus the epic One Big Holiday, which is nothing short of spectacular.
Acoustic Citsuoca Live! At The Startime Pavilion - 2004 - 3.5 Stars
The band bridged the gap between major releases with this 5 track 'acoustic' EP, which is actually less live than it implies - as the "Startime Pavillion" show mentioned never actually occured. The EP was recorded over three nights in Austin, but none the less provides a magical document of the bands shows - particularly Jim James' solo acoustic shows. James' haunting voice dominates the release on highlights like Golden and Bermuda Highway, but the gem here has got to be the unbeatable version of The Bear, from album The Tennessee Fire. The song has a magnificent slow-building power at the best of times, but here it showcases James' vocal talents, unquestionable power and passion as a performer, building to a spine-tingling frenzied finale.
Z - 2005 - 5 Stars
Things stepped up a gear with Z, where the band moving away from the self-produced template of their previous efforts, handing over production duties to John Leckie (The Stone Roses, The Verve, Radiohead). It's a move that paid off hugely, with Leckie tightening the band's sound to the point of breaking. The sprawl of previous releases is trimmed to perfection, while every song is well-honed and muscular, with highlights ranging from the note perfecd electronics of It Beats 4U through the long rocker Lay Low to the powerful finale of Dondante. Eclipsing much of the bands previous work, this album moved them up to another level, bringing in new sounds and ideas while retaining all of their inherant qualities. Brilliant. Read our original revew here.
Okonokos - 2006 - 3 Stars
Following the release of Z, My Morning Jacket embarked on an epic tour, which did eventually land in London - but not before this two night residency at the legendary Fillmore in San Franciso. This live record documents the tour and was released with an accompanying DVD. While live albums can often be a little disappointing, this one rounds up everything that is good about the band and serves almost as a live greatest hits - covering 8 of the 10 songs from Z as well as numerous beefed-up renditions from their extensive back catlogue. Without seeing this unmissable live band in the flesh, this is about as close to the experience as you are going to get. Read our original revew here.
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