My Morning Jacket on Vinyl: Sound or Sound Quality? March 07 2016, 0 Comments

 my morning jacket turntable mat

Confusion.  How does one include My Morning Jacket in an ongoing discussion of sound quality on vinyl records?

Indecision. Can one encapsulate My Morning Jacket by looking at just one of their albums?

MMJ has consistently released the best, imaginative and varied rock music since 2003’s It Still Moves –their third studio record. If leader and songwriter Jim James is not related to Neil Young, he is certainly a direct musical descendant. While the quality of the music has been consistent, the songs might bounce from their rock base to country to psychedelic to acoustic folk. As a result, each album is an interesting journey.

Some musicians make music. Others, like Neil Young and Jim James make art. The sound in their heads gets translated to recorded form for us to hear. My Morning Jacket’s music may not translate well in audiophile sound quality discussions but the sound is gorgeous especially in vinyl based systems. Isn’t the purpose of a good stereo system to allow us to hear as accurately as possible the artist’s vision of his/her work? With My Morning Jacket immerse yourself in the music – what an experience.

It Still Moves – If you would like an easy entrance to My Morning Jacket try fan favorite Golden or even better I Will Sing You Songs - an absolutely beautiful song with a really wide soundstage. If you are feeling adventurous start with One Big Holiday (one of my favorites) or Run Thru which is on Rolling Stone magazine’s list of Top 100 Greatest Guitar Songs. Of course you could just start at the beginning of the record. There is not a weak song on the album. For many artists this would have been their masterpiece. My Morning Jacket was just getting started.

Z – This album from 2005 advances the MMJ sound even further. Layered beautifully, this is immersion music. Starting with Wordless Chorus, through Gideon (another fan favorite) and Off the Record, Z culminates in the surreal Dondante.

Evil Urges –My Morning Jacket has always been a great live band and this album is their attempt to capture their live sound. The soundstage is even wider than usual, particularly on the title cut, Thank You Too and Aluminum Park.

Circuital – OK, now we move into My Morning Jacket masterpiece territory. An amazing album, this record is available as a 2 disc lp at 45 rpm and it really pays off. Three dimensional imaging and clarity abound. The music is even more adventurous with songs like Victory Dance, Circuital and Holding onto Black Metal making you understand why that eye is on the cover. Consider this either a spoiler alert or an early warning – as the first song on the album dissolves there is a very distinct series of pops and ticks. There is nothing wrong with your record.

The Waterfall –The mood of this album remains the focus throughout. Also available as a 45 rpm two disc set, imaging and soundstage befit the dream like tone. When I first heard The Band’s Music from the Big Pink, I thought, what good music, it’s a shame it is all the same. With every listen though, the real variety became apparent. This is how The Waterfall plays out. Great music for a specific mood.

I guess by now you have figured out that I like My Morning Jacket’s music a lot. Each song appears to be crafted to be a sonic experience that can be both beautiful and challenging.

The MMJ catalogue can be found at Elusive Disc or at your local record store.

Ben