My Morning Jacket
If the contrapuntal Al Green-meets-Skynyrd soul-groove of My Morning Jacket's 2005 heavy-hitter Z didn't convince you MMJ was breaking into the mainstream side of the music biz, the band's inside-joke cameo appearance performing "Free Bird" in Cameron Crowe's Elizabethtown should have. Either way, MMJ disciples will no doubt fall on their knees at the altar of Kentucky-fried soul-rock when Okonokos: Double Live Album finds its way to the eager flock of MMJ singer/guitarist Jim James' worshipers.
From the patina-pealing falsetto and head-nodding pizzicato guitar ripples of CD one's opener, "Wordless Chorus," to the capricious boogie of CD two's closer, "Mahgeeta," MMJ plays a countrified midwife to the sour mash love child of the gods of crackling riff rock and toothy-grinned soul. High points include the gyroscopic intro of "One Big Holiday" and the rightly titled "At Dawn," a short, inspirational tune with guitars that soar like first light over an ocean of reverb. On the poignant "Xmas Curtain," James and company mesh melancholy piano with dirty guitars, creating a mix as delectable as chocolate and peanut butter.
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