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Z
     

Z

5.0 3
by My Morning Jacket
 

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Over the course of several years and several indie releases, this Kentucky-bred combo earned themselves a reputation as unwashed and somewhat dazed purveyors of reverb-drenched Neil Young worship. And while they once filled that niche rather nicely, Jim James and company blast out of those confines with spectacular results on Z, an obscurely titled but vividly

Overview

Over the course of several years and several indie releases, this Kentucky-bred combo earned themselves a reputation as unwashed and somewhat dazed purveyors of reverb-drenched Neil Young worship. And while they once filled that niche rather nicely, Jim James and company blast out of those confines with spectacular results on Z, an obscurely titled but vividly detailed disc that maintains touch with the band's roots while taking aim at the farthest reaches of the stratosphere. The manifest for that trip is laid out with breathtaking eeriness on "Wordless Chorus," an aptly named swirl of sonic mercury that allows James's angelic voice to float freely through a spangly landscape that would do the Flaming Lips proud. A similar spaciness lurks in the corners of "Dondante," but on that extended tune, it's leavened by a mean streak of guitar sinew, one that echoes MMJ's past Crazy Horse infatuation without retracing those steps precisely. The quintet aren't entirely detached from terra firma, however. In fact, they've rarely expressed themselves more earthily than on "What a Wonderful Man," an out-and-out pop song of sorts that's keyed by a spry keyboard melody that encircles lyrics about the death of a close friend. That seemingly incongruous blend of emotions pops up again and again on Z, as in the reggae-tinged plaint "Off the Record" and the unhinged "Knot Comes Loose." But it's not just the aural splendor that makes Z so captivating -- it's the sheer presence of a group of musicians growing exponentially in both confidence and capability. A monumental release.

Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Johnny Loftus
In 2004, a dreamy cover of "Rocket Man" concluded My Morning Jacket's first volume of rarities. Which was prescient, because it's Elton John that Jim James' songs for 2005's Z first bring to mind. From the wistful recollection of "Goodbye Yellow Brick Road" to Honky Chateau's melodic and genre explorations, John's ability to mesh styles and take detours within his sturdy pop songwriting applies to James here, particularly in the expansive opener, "Wordless Chorus," or the initial happy-go-lucky lilt of "Off the Record." Z is My Morning Jacket's fourth full-length (and second for ATO), and it's the one that might finally jump-start the reaction that James' music has always deserved. It Still Moves from 2003 rightly enjoyed its accolades, but it meandered a little structurally, too, and sometimes got a little lost in its own reverb. On Z, MMJ's traditional influences are present -- the folk, blues, and country tones of John, Neil Young, and the Band shaded by contemporaries like Mercury Rev and Mark Kozelek. But songs like "Lay Low" and "It Beats for You" are crafted tighter, their sound-drenched keyboard lines meeting the percussion head on and riding meaningful flourishes of electric guitar. "Gideon" climaxes in James calling out throatily over twinkling piano and big chords borrowed from the Who, and "What a Wonderful Man" is a raucous, crashing tumble of unhinged crash cymbals, barroom piano, and mirthful yelping. Z is intuitive, intensely creative, classicist-minded, nearly flawless. It's music that's extruded from Jim James' id, and that's bearded, too.
Entertainment Weekly - Tom Sinclair
They evoke the musical essence of various titans while achieving a wholly distinctive sound of their own. (A-)

Product Details

Release Date:
10/04/2005
Label:
Ato Records
UPC:
0880882160128
catalogNumber:
21601
Rank:
28132

Tracks

Album Credits

Performance Credits

My Morning Jacket   Primary Artist
Andrew Bird   Strings,Human Whistle
Jim James   Group Member
Two-Tone Tommy   Group Member
Carl Broemel   Group Member
Bo Koster   Group Member
Patrick Hallahan   Group Member

Technical Credits

John Leckie   Producer,Audio Production
Jim James   Composer,Producer,Audio Production
Two-Tone Tommy   Composer
Danny Cash   Graphic Design
Guy Burwell   Artwork
Patrick Hallahan   Composer
Kathleen Lolley   Artwork
Nicolai Denchev   Artwork
Mike Fulkerson   Artwork
Brandon Jones   Artwork

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

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5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 3 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I can't even tell you how many times I've listened to Z by now. I discovered MMJ on a tv broadcast of one of their Austin city Limits performances and I was captivated immediately. The vocals are a bit Neil Young-ish but they've also got an awesome transcedental strength about them and the drumming well, it speaks for itself. This is a must-have.
Guest More than 1 year ago
If you like soul music and southern rock mixed with loads of reverb and a touch of the Beach Boys of old (and U2 from 1983 to 1988) then I think you will enjoy this CD. Give this CD a chance and you won't be disappointed.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago