Decade :: My Morning Jacket, It Still Moves (2003)

decade aquarium drunkard

What is it that makes us want to deconstruct art by units of time? Lists. We love making them. We love arguing over them. And here, on the verge of a new decade, we’re in a position to do the same again. What were the best albums of the past ten years?

Here at AD, we started talking it through and decided we weren’t going to add to the cacophony of lists being put out by various music pubs. There are enough of those. Rather, we elected to let our four main writers have a chance to write about any and all of the albums they felt shaped the last decade.

From now through the end of December, Monday through Thursday, AD will feature a post, or posts, from a particular writer detailing their favorite albums of the decade. On a given week there might be one album a writer talks about, there might be six, but they’ll get a chance to have their say on everything that comes to mind.     Our hope for you, the reader, is that you’ll jump in with your comments on the album selections — tell us why you agree or disagree — and also be exposed to some albums that you may have missed over the last ten years. Now, as the decade starts to wind down, let’s celebrate.

af8f808a8da089524d497110.LBack in 2003, My Morning Jacket were just five dudes singing out songs from the bottom of a grain silo in Louisville, Kentucky. While later albums Z and Evil Urges found MMJ stretching across country-rock to skeleton funk and taking in everything between, It Still Moves marks the fully-cooked sound of a band reaching deep into the soil while pulling their songs as high into the atmosphere as they can go. It’s a vertical record that sounded simultaneously lost and discovered when it was released, with an ancient tone as warm as honey.

Something about It Still Moves feels inevitable, almost as if the loamy ground itself had given birth. Jim James’ voice, cloaked in reverb, hovers over the songs on a bed of metallic harmonies like the string that holds the clouds in the sky. Perhaps it’s the minimalist aesthetic, but nearly every track feels humble and unshowy; any other band would have pumped serious compression and studio muscle into rockers like “One Big Holiday” and “Mahgeetah”, but James’ understated production hugs the listener in. Even “Run Thru,” which sounds something like “Cortez the Killer” conquering the ghetto, unravels its power more than it unleashes it. These songs felt broken-in the first time they were spun, like they were made for their listener only, and six years down the road, they hang even closer to the skin.

And yet the whole things still sounds normal. Despite all the celestial grandeur, My Morning Jacket never sound like anything other than a handful of dudes making good music; they could have been playing just up the road from you at one of the dark and lonely bars that James is so wary of in “Golden“. It Still Moves is local in the bigger sense of the word–it’s rooted not only into its physical geography, but also into the emotional geography of the people who made it. And for all of the bombast that the band has produced in the meantime, this humble little rocker still shines the brightest. words/ m. garner

MP3: My Morning Jacket :: Steam Engine

+ Download My Morning Jacket via eMusic’s 25 free MP3 no risk trial offer

21 thoughts on “Decade :: My Morning Jacket, It Still Moves (2003)

  1. Great insight into a fantastic album. Also, steam engine is of of my all-time favorite songs.

  2. Whoa, thanks for the tip, Alejandro! And the kinds words, JCroz, haha–make me proud with the one I sent you!

  3. No surpirses. This is a music nerd’s paradise!(me included of course). Love your Blog, always an inspiration to my dilettante ramblings at That said, It still Moves is a great addition to the list. When Z came out I thought it was the greatest thing but now that the dust has settled the one I go back to is It Still Moves. Magheeta is one of the best tracks of the decade and best use of reverb I can think of. Great night listening. Also really liked the outtakes you huys posted of At Dawn.

  4. Good memory:

    Was working at the Virgin Megastore in Dallas Texas, my sophomore year of college. The guys I worked with introduced me to Uncle Tupelo, Son Volt, and all that. An hour after closing Saturday night, we put It Still Moves in, and jacked the volume up on MAHGEETAH. The entire store filled with those power chords, like a tiger roaring or something. We were literally all head banging. Genius pick. Definitely agree.

  5. Christian: The first time I heard Band of Horses I thought they had ripped off MMJ a bit, especially on “The Funeral” or something like that, but in the end I think they just have similar influences.

    This album is nothing but timeless, majestic drunken singalongs.

  6. Nice choice!
    It Still Moves was the first Jacket album I got, picked up a second-hand copy (how could anyone trade in this record?) for not much after reading several intriguing comparisons to Mr Young and comparisons to a Southern-fried Flaming Lips. I certainly wasn’t disappointed.
    While I probably lean towards At Dawn as my fav MMJ, I’m pleased this was my introduction to the Jacket, and that Mahgeetah was the first tune of there’s I heard, at the start of a summer no less.
    Favourite band, and an album that’s certainly amongst the best of of the 00s.

  7. It Still Moves was also my first Jacket album. My local college radio station had been spinning “Golden” and I absolutely fell in love with that song. I purchased the album and immediately I was awed by Jim’s voice, the sounds, the reverb, and especially the atmosphere evoked. I listen to all kinds of music and these guys truly have something special and completely different than what I had been listening to. With just one album under my belt, a raging obsession with this band had begun. I admit, I am now a Jacket-aholic. I have all the discs and I have scoured high and low for their many live performances and covers. I drove 12 hours all the way to Bonnaroo to wait hours and hours to be in the front row for their show. I love this band THAT much! I wholeheartedly believe that “these songs felt broken-in the first time they were spun.” Some bands try to emulate their sound, but nothing, I mean nothing compares to hearing “One Big Holiday” as an encore to one of their epic live shows. Talk about chills! This band is the real deal – and the guys are all so nice in person – that makes this band twice as awesome. All of this started with my first encounter with “Golden” off of It Still Moves. Now go out and experience some more Jacket – you won’t be disappointed! Cheers.

  8. m.garner-
    Great choice and great words;”cloaked in reverb” – I especially enjoyed that line. I’m glad you also mentioned James’ great production.
    This album is best listened to late at night under an open sky, driving alone, windows down, on a country road. Put it on, and just drive until “…all three are one in the same”.

  9. Great choice! Saw MMJ in Louisville in ’03 about 2 weeks after It Still Moves came out, without really listening to them beforehand. Needless to say, they blew me away. I remember the venue seemed alive before they came on, buzzing with energy and anticipation. I also remember seeing nothing but hair flying for their entire set… and I definitely remember the ‘drop’ in “One Big Holiday” coming into the first verse. Serious chills and an incredible experience overall. Thanks for the reminder!

  10. this album is so special to me and i always thought it was under appreciated. great write up for a great album. AD nails it again!

  11. ISM was my first MMJ album and I liked right away, but it wasn’t until one afternoon on vacation in the smokey mountains on the back deck of our cabin and heavily under the influence of red wine that I realized that this was more than just music. I am pretty sure for just a moment during Golden as the afternoon sun burned across the mountain peaks, I actually levitated a few inches off the deck.


    No album had given me the chills and tingles like that since Floyd.

    But you know, talk is often cheap and filled with air, so go fire up ISM, close your eyes and tingle.

  12. Wow — I’m so excited by the showering of praise upon MMJ and especially It Still Moves! I was a freshman in college when it came out and a huge fan of Neil Young. It was a review in Entertainment Weekly (of all places) that initially drew me with a line that read something like “A slow-burning Neil Young”. BH–like you, it took me a bit to get into, although “One Big Holiday” is so immediately brilliant and really can’t be denied. Will–I saw them MAYBE on the same tour, though in Birmingham, and it was the first show with Carl and Bo, and I remember people being PISSED that Johnny and Danny weren’t in the band anymore. Some random frat guy, I guess upon seeing how happy I was after the show, came up to me and said, “That wasn’t fuckin’ My Mornin’ Jacket. Where was Johnny Quaid, man?”

    But my best MMJ memory of all is seeing them in Nashville in the summer of ’04. We were packed in really thick–It Still Moves was really breaking and the word about the live show was spreading–and they did “Strangulation!” in the encore, and the moment JJ dropped into the verse, someone dropped their bottle of beer and someone else leaned in to his friend and said, “This is one of the best songs ever written.” It gives me the chills even thinking about that moment.

    Anyway, thanks for your enthusiasm, everyone!

  13. Glad to see them mentioned twice, but can’t believe they chose these over “Z” which is a near masterpiece imo.

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