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Evil Urges

4.0 out of 5 stars 145 customer reviews

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Audio CD, June 6, 2008
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Product Details

  • Audio CD (June 6, 2008)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: ATO Records
  • ASIN: B0017PB5TW
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (145 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #34,945 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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"Evil Urges" has polarized fans in their opinions about the stylistic changes MMJ has undergone since they creeped into the consciousness of the indie rock world. It is a record that is very different from the brand of Americana roots rock that they produced with their first three records. When they released "Z" in 2005, it was a stylistic departure that was surprising at first, but was largely accepted by their fans as a modern classic and a willingness to experiment akin to Wilco's "Yankee Hotel Foxtrot". Much of the criticism about "Evil Urges" has been directed towards what some fans perceive to be a more extreme departure from their earlier sounds than attempted with "Z" on some songs, but also a sense of playing it too safe with more traditional material on other songs. The point seems to be that "Evil Urges" is significantly less consistent than "Z" which I disagree with.

"Z" and "Evil Urges" have a very similar sequence. Both records start with falsetto infused modern rock and arty pop. Both records have a middle section comprised of more straightforward guitar driven rock and some rootsy material. And both have ending pieces that have a similar level of dramatic tension, although different in style.

That's not to say that "Evil Urges" is a copy of "Z". Its range of styles is more extreme which can come across as a band unclear in its direction but there are two themes that run through the disc that bring it all together. The first is its roots in R&B sounds both modern and classic. The ringing guitar sounds and thumping bass of the title track and both parts of "Touch Me I'm Going to Scream" plus the 70's AM radio soul of "Thank You Too!", "Sec Walkin" and "Look At You" are evidence of the band's passion for R&B that make this record so distinctive.
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Format: Audio CD
Dylan. The Rolling Thunder Revue. I'm Not There. It was these things that brought My Morning Jacket, or rather Jim James, to my (re)attention. After hearing the name My Morning Jacket, and liking it, in 1999 I was largely non-blown away by this interestingly named band. However, upon watching "I'm Not There" and hearing Jim James (and Calexico) better Dylan's original version of "Goin' To Acupulco" in full Rolling Thunder Revue face paint I was definitely intrigued. "If the singer can nail that then surely his band must be worth another look" I remember musing whilst listening to said cover for about the tenth time in a row. As luck would have it My Morning Jacket were preparing a new album; the excellently titled "Evil Urges". If I was to start anywhere why not start at where they're at right now and work back. And so I did.

Evil Urges begins with a triplet of bizarre-yet-brilliant songs. After going from listening to the acoustic classicism of a Dylan cover to the rock and funk falsetto freakishness that is the albums opening gambit is quite a journey, albeit an enjoyable one. This opening section energizes, challenges and tempts the senses with its ambition, style and execution which, through reading fan reviews, has left some MMJ "traditionalists" scratching their heads. However, music is often a vehicle for change and if you're left asking questions like "why don't do they do it like they used to" then you should probably buy a U2 album and be happy at the dull familiarity of every song. This is MMJ with Prince-like sex appeal and a willingness to ditch the alt-country cloak that has been draped on them thus far.
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Format: Audio CD
That was my first response while listening to this album. I couldn't believe what I was hearing, and it wasn't in a good way. I hated this album. I hated the fact that the soaring vocals were replaced by something Prince-like, I hated the fact that nearly ALL the reverb on the previous records were gone, and I really hated the fact that there was barely any rock songs on this record. Minus a few tracks, I was ready to sell this cd.

Then something happened.

A friend of mine told me that him and his buddies were going to see My Morning Jacket live in Louisville at the Waterfront Park, and he invited me to go. I went to go see them, and I became a huge fan. I realized what they were aiming for. They wanted to show their fans that "Hey, we are influnced by a lot of classic rock, but we're also influenced by the music of today." To put it simply, live, the new songs rocked just as hard as the classics from It Still Moves, At Dawn, and Z, and fit the band like an old glove.

As bands get older, they have to evolve. There is no other choice. Radiohead did so with OK Computer, further destroying the ties to their britpop brothers. Same with Pink Floyd, same with Led Zeppelin, same with The Beatles, same with every great artist. One can see that evolutionary step in My Morning Jacket's live shows, in which case the songs range from psychedelic to country to funk to rock and roll. What Evil Urges is attempting to do is to bring that live eclectisism into an album, and it succeeds on every level. This is the music that an accomplished band like My Morning Jacket should be making after 10 years of the tried-and-true formula.

Right off the bat, Evil Urges is a song that will divide fans.
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