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Music Reviews

Screaming Females - Castle Talk
»Screaming Females
Castle Talk
Don Giovanni
Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross - The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
»Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross
The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
The Null Corporation
Deerhunter - Halcyon Digest
Halcyon Digest
No Age - Everything in Between
»No Age
Everything in Between
Sub Pop
Robyn - Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
The Walkmen - Lisbon
»The Walkmen
Fat Possum
My Morning Jacket

Rating: 7/10 ?

November 10, 2006
I've been waiting for a full-length live offering from this band for some time now. My Morning Jacket is one of the most interesting bands recording today - revitalizing the Southern/Classic/Arena Rock sound in a way that appeals to hipsters and jam-band retards alike. The MMJ sound is a lot like Neil Young and Crazy Horse if the latter were wearing jet packs. Huge, powerful chords meet thunderous percussion and, since their latest studio album Z, cosmic keyboards. Lead singer Jim James' crooning lilt even resembles Neil Young and at times, or as one reviewer pointed out, Kermit the Frog. Four albums and a handful of EPs into their career MMJ finally recorded a live album, in San Francisco, and the results are, sadly, mixed.

My first beef with Okonokos is the drastically varying quality of Jim James' voice. The characteristic wail that seems, at times, almost lupine is replaced here with a somewhat broken holler. James is rarely able to maintain the soaring vocals that propel the band's studio recordings into the stratosphere. With this secret weapon gone the band loses much of its edge on tracks like "Gideon" and "Off The Record" - two songs that demand James to be at his best, vocally. One positive result of the cracking, weaker vocals is an earnest vulnerability which is added to "I Will Sing You Songs" and pleading desperation of "O Is The One That Is Real" and the exquisite "Steam Engine".

The other issue I take with Okonokos relates to the entire band. These songs, two discs worth, are almost flawlessly reproduced, musically speaking. Every studio guitar riff, every beat and every fiery organ fill is perfectly reproduced here. That kind of perfection leads to a less than underwhelming concert-going experience. Don't get me wrong - I am not looking for some kind of noodly jazz-odyssey, but something to differentiate the live sets from the recorded ones would be nice.

All beef aside, the band's performance overall is agonizingly perfect and deserving of much praise. Rockers like "Dancefloors" and "Anytime" bring the house down. Even with James' vocals failing to register with their usual power and the band's lack of improvisation, My Morning Jacket still make incredibly enjoyable music. Fans of the studio albums will enjoy this recording as well. I just hope next time MMJ release a live recording that they really go for broke and turn it up to 11, because on Okonokos things are at about 9.

Reviewed by Jon Burke
A contributing writer and a Chicago resident who will not be goaded by LASís editor into revealing any more details about his potentially sordid affairs.

See other reviews by Jon Burke



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