Review: Jim James Looks Back to His Slacker Rock Roots on 'Uniform Distortion' - Rolling Stone
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Review: Jim James Looks Back to His Slacker Rock Roots on ‘Uniform Distortion’

The My Morning Jacket frontman’s solo outing revels in no-frills classic rock and post-punk

Justin Tyler Close

The elevator pitch for My Morning Jacket, very roughly, has long been the Allman Brothers retooled as Radiohead. So it’s cool that to hear frontman Jim James reverse-engineering his steez on his latest solo LP. A loving tribute to old-school shit spiritually informed by the hippie bible The Whole Earth Catalog, it’s also informed by dirtbag classic rock and slacker post-punk, with loads of choogling guitars and chuckled asides. The shreddy “Just A Fool” is about being a rock-and-roll knucklehead; it ends with a clipped Lynyrd Skynyrd guitar-duel abstraction and James howling at the moon. He even commands “let’s rock!” on the rave-up “You Get To Rome,” and if he’s arching an eyebrow, you can’t hear it.

Parts come off intentionally half-assed, refreshing for a guy usually devoted to headier things, and charming as far as it goes. “Have they been crushing skulls or smoking bowls?” he sings, like vaping never happened, on “Better Late Than Never,” an AM-radio pop flashback via the Ramones. “Out of Time” is more Sonic Youth/Dinosaur Jr, while “No Secrets” conjures Fleetwood Mac via Crazy Horse. James even fucks with his angel-in-a-grain-silo voice, a sublime instrument that might otherwise undermine the raunch he’s aiming for here. Cackling, croaking, and cracking up through vocal processors, he sounds like he’s having a blast. And you will too, even if you don’t remember any of it by morning – which also seems perfectly in the spirit of things.

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