My Morning Jacket -- At Dawn
Every time I pass through Oregon I pick up a record with staying power. Maybe it's because events inevitably occur there that serve to remind me why music is great. A couple years ago, it was the late Elliott Smith's Either/Or. This time, it was MMJ's At Dawn, which has been a cleansing record as well as a necessary personal bookend to Mr. Smith's spiraling tour de force. That's not to say that At Dawn is easy to digest, or even medicinally appropriate for most. This band reminds me of a garage metal-looking Wayne Coyne singing Neil Young's Harvest (and yes, these influences are immediately apparent), with the end result absolutely swimming in reverb. Lots of reverb, like singing in a bathtub the size of a bus. MMJ are from Kentucky, so you'll probably expect a healthy dose of Americana, and you won't be disappointed. But the freedom of this record is larger than any geographical concerns. At Dawn is un-jaded and uncompromising, and at times texturally brilliant. Lonely as hell and I love it.
Television -- Marquee Moon
The guitars! What a fantastic juxtaposition of two completely different yet equally brilliant musicians. The space created between Tom Verlaine's snaking riffage and Richard Lloyd's angular, aggressive bursts is a thing of beauty. Marquee Moon fuses a sort of prog-hippie exploratory rock with raw punk energy in a way that most folks had never even considered in 1977. A friend and I had a similar discussion last week, at which point we dusted off our respective copies and were blown away once again.