Wednesday, August 5, 2015

This Little Underground: My Morning Jacket, Mini Mansions (Hard Rock Live)

Posted By on Wed, Aug 5, 2015 at 4:19 PM

click to enlarge My Morning Jacket at Hard Rock Live - JAMES DECHERT
  • James Dechert
  • My Morning Jacket at Hard Rock Live


Like Wilco in many ways, My Morning Jacket (Aug. 4, Hard Rock Live) has more or less gotten to the point of transcending genre. They’ve pulled that difficult act of not just establishing their own domain with its own rules but getting people to buy into it and follow the ride, wherever it may go. It’s a rare, impressive and surely liberating feat.

click to enlarge My Morning Jacket at Hard Rock Live - JAMES DECHERT
  • James Dechert
  • My Morning Jacket at Hard Rock Live

That freedom to indulge your whims unchecked, however, can sometimes make your constitution lose its shape, rigor and vigor – just look at the America around you. And My Morning Jacket’s career has had its spells of nebulousness where their dewy haze has become more emblematic of their vision than just their sonics.

click to enlarge My Morning Jacket at Hard Rock Live - JAMES DECHERT
  • James Dechert
  • My Morning Jacket at Hard Rock Live

Now there are plenty of genuinely good songs in MMJ’s quiver. But they’re sometimes buried in a lot of half-stepped wank-outs. Without those songs, the grand cloud of their expansive tendencies would deflate pretty quickly. Live, their sound was unsurprisingly big, plush and well-appointed. Even if it blunted some of their songwriting teeth, it was an exercise in lavish sonic craft. Still, a little more salience never hurt anyone.

click to enlarge Mini Mansions at Hard Rock Live - JAMES DECHERT
  • James Dechert
  • Mini Mansions at Hard Rock Live

Meanwhile, L.A. opener Mini Mansions came at it from the opposite end of the spectrum with oblique pop cut from tight, svelte lines. Though notable, it’s almost not worth
mentioning that the band includes Queens of the Stone Age bassist Michael Shuman because of the red herring it throws out there. With perhaps the sole exception of their song “Mirror Mountain” – which sounds very much like a synth reworking of QOTSA and is way more dope than it sounds – Mini Mansions bears little resemblance to that heavy guitar riffage. Instead, they’re a wiry trio that leads more with keyboards, stand-up drums and a little left-field cool. An actual cover that defines them a little more is their slow-mo undressing of Blondie’s “Heart of Glass,” which was a nice, slinky cherry to an already solid performance.

click to enlarge Mini Mansions at Hard Rock Live - JAMES DECHERT
  • James Dechert
  • Mini Mansions at Hard Rock Live


click to enlarge Mini Mansions at Hard Rock Live - JAMES DECHERT
  • James Dechert
  • Mini Mansions at Hard Rock Live

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This Little Underground is Orlando Weekly's music column providing perspective, live reviews and news on the city's music scene. 

Follow Bao on Twitter (@baolehuu)
Email Bao: baolehuu@orlandoweekly.com


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