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My Morning Jacket

'Move' The Crowd

MMJThere's a good reason why the sweeping compositions on My Morning Jacket's ATO/RCA debut, "It Still Moves," conjure images of wide-open spaces and rolling green hills. Indeed, the quintet spent its formative years in Louisville and has utilized a farmhouse in even more remote Shelbyville, Ky., as its studio and all-around clubhouse.

"Being from Louisville has made us a lot calmer and a lot more patient, but also, we have to work a lot harder, because not many opportunities in the music business happen here," MMJ frontman Jim James admits. "You have to make it your whole life's mission."

On the strength of two indie releases (1999's "The Tennessee Fire" and 2001's "At Dawn") and constant touring, the group built a dedicated following, eventually bringing it to the attention of larger labels. While the material on "It Still Moves" was taking shape, the group opted to ink with ATO, co-founded by Dave Matthews and also home to David Gray, Gov't Mule and Ben Kweller.

Labels aside, "It Still Moves" is bound to thrust My Morning Jacket further into the consciousness of the listening public. Although touching on the rootsy honesty of Neil Young and the Band and the most organic elements of Radiohead or Mercury Rev, the album sidesteps trends to deliver 12 tracks of rock that is by turns emotional ("Just One Thing"), whimsical ("Malgeetah"), nostalgic ("Golden") and dizzyingly creative ("Run Thru").

It all starts with James' voice, which he drapes in any number of effects. "I'm a reverb maniac," he confesses. "I can't even sing at home in my closet without reverb." This fixation has caused the band more than its share of grumbling from venue sound engineers. "They tell us it's unprofessional and that it doesn't sound right," James says. "Luckily, we're now able to start bringing our own sound guy and have more control over it."