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The Audio PhilesMy Morning Jacket : Circuital / Death Cab For Cutie: Codes and Keys
POSTED BY TERENCE NUZUM, June 7, 2011    Share

My Morning Jacket: Circuital- From the first chorus of the opening track "Victory Dance", a Meddle era Pink Floydy sounding masterpiece of inner space, you think that My Morning Jacket is going to blow your mind with the best album of the year. Unfortunately it isn't so. What they did give is a tame and unadventurous album with way too much filler. "Wonderful" is one of those filler tracks that a band like MMJ should be kinda embarrassed to play this late in their career. It's a goofy "afternoon delite" sounding piece of tripe that makes the most schmaltzy Eagles song sound like "Paranoid Android". There are highlights though as MMJ is still a stellar band regardless. "Circuital" with it's country rock refried soul music combo and the alt-rock/Beach Boys hybrid "Outta My System" actually make this album the most perfect realization of Gram Parson's mythical genre Cosmic American Music. The real highlight though is the awesomely contrived gospel backed Henry Mancini wet dream "Holding On To Black Metal". As singer Jim James' echoey voice bellows out black metal put downs a gospel chorus takes us to cosmic hillbilly planets beyond our imagination. If MMJ had that kind of focus for the entire album we might be listening to album of the year instead of simply the opening act.

Death Cab For Cutie: Codes and Keys- Out of all the original emo bands to survive the great co-op Death Cab For Cutie is still the only one still making good music. Their last three releases all great examples of alt-rock (forget the term emo anyway.I mean what was it really?). This time around though they tuned down the guitars and bombast and made a great moody little album that recalls early efforts like The Photo Album. They also hired Alan Moulder to produce giving the whole album a very mid-90's rock band flirting with electronica sound. Making it no surprise that "Doors Unlocked And Opened" sounds like The Smashing Pumpkins "1979"'s long-lost follow up. The opener "Home Is A Fire" is a slow grooving opener that sets the tone perfectly for tracks like the new-wave electro "You Are A Tourist", and the more typical Death Cab song "Some Boys". There is no doubt that finally singer Ben Gibbard's work with Postal Service is finally influencing Death Cab and ironically it's for the better as they delivered an album that sounds fresh and at the same time a return to the more low key sound of their past.

"The Audio Philes" is ©2011 by Terence Nuzum. All contents of Nolan's Pop Culture Review are ©2011 by Nolan B. Canova.

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