2016: The Year in Charts

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My Morning Jacket

A To 'Z'

JacketThe January 2004 departure of My Morning Jacket members Johnny Quaid and Danny Cash presented more than just a hole in the lineup: The Louisville, Ky.-based band's longtime recording studio was located on Quaid's grandparents' Indiana farm.

So with new guitarist Carl Broemel and keyboardist Bo Koster in tow, MMJ headed north to Allaire Studios in upstate New York with veteran producer John Leckie (Stone Roses, Radiohead) to record "Z," its second release for ATO/RCA.

"This time, we couldn't just drive home when we were done recording," frontman Jim James says. "We were locked in there for a whole month." The need to buckle down and make things happen yielded an album of purely live performances (including a number of first-take vocals from James) and a suite of songs that takes the band far beyond the "Southern rock meets Radiohead" comparisons of its past.

Highlights include the soaring space rocker "Gideon," the piano- and pedal steel guitar-tinged ballad "Knot Comes Loose" and the bouncy "Off the Record," which morphs into a smoky, soul-driven instrumental interlude. Other songs like "Anytime" find James tapping into a well of raw emotion. "I kind of like imperfections within a vocal, because I've never been a singer that is always right on pitch," he says. "I think it's fun if your voice cracks in a powerful way."

MMJ begins a North American tour Oct. 6 in Atlanta and will be on the road through Thanksgiving.