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The Jayhawks - Mockingbird Time Album Cover

The Jayhawks - Mockingbird Time

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8.2
The Jayhawks - Mockingbird Time
Record Label: Rounder Records
Release Date: Sept. 20, 2011
This review was written by an AP.net staff member.
At this point in their careers, The Jayhawks don't have to really release any more albums to prove their worth. Their status as iconic symbols in the Americana movement is already pretty much cemented. Plus it doesn't hurt that 2003's Rainy Day Music was considered by many to be their best album in years. But hey, can't knock a band for trying. And so it is, eight years removed from Rainy Day Music and two years removed from a four year hiatus, the quintet's eighth album, Mockingbird Time, hits shelves.

While it's certainly a pleasant album it's far from iconic and far from Rainy Day Music. But in someway it is still an indelible and engaging piece of work. Whereas some albums take their time to develop, Mockingbird Time wastes little time. Opener "Hide Your Colors," features rollicking keys, winding guitars and a bevy of two and three-part harmonies. A gently lifting mid-tempo yarn, it is a pleasant song and the kind of tune The Jayhawks has been perfecting for years. But insofar as an opening salvo, it is fairly bland and does very little to catapult the album forward.

Vocalist Mark Olson steps up to the mic on the rustic "Closer To Your Side," and it is here that things start to take shape. Bolstered by a sturdy chorus, an engaging bridge and a landscape that is evocative of Laurel Canyon circa 1972, "Closer To Your Side," is everything that is right about The Jayhawks. There's nothing bland, nothing alienating and better yet nothing to complain about here. The weaving "Tiny Arrows," follows a gently tinkling piano around lines like "Sit and watch the river flow, try and touch the sky." Beautiful, timeless and near perfect, "Tiny Arrows," is the album's first big statement, one that proves even after a hiatus, the band still has its stuff together.

The gnomic and amiable "She Walks In So Many Ways," revisits the landscape of Rainy Day Music and makes for a nice lead single. Unfortunately it is succeeded by the self-indulgent and disappointing "High Water Blues," a five-minute sashay that seems askew and superfluous. There is a 90-second instrumental interlude that meanders into jam-band territory and while it makes for an entertaining listen, it also feels like the band losing grip on the song. Mockingbird Time's first half ends with the gorgeous title track, a lilting piano-laden valentine that battles "Tiny Arrows," as one of the album's enduring moments.

The second half of Mockingbird Time opens with the gently lifting "Stand Out in the Rain," a song that serves as a sturdier companion to "Hide Your Colors," and makes for a commendable follow-up to the brilliant "Mockingbird Time." The dusty "Cinnamon Love," is unfortunately a throwaway and a poor excuse for filler. Considering the band is four decades into their career, there is little reason why a track like "Cinnamon Love," could have made it into the final cut. As if cognizant of that, the band puts its best foot forward on the throwback cut "Guilder Annie," which revisits the halcyon days of the band's early years.

Confident, crisp and with nary a flaw, "Guilder Annie" is another reminder of why when they want to, The Jayhawks can create songs that very few of their rivals can. But again the band stumbles clumsily on the quivering "Black Eyed Susan," a five-minute affair that is never sure of its intentions and even more unsure of its final statement. And then as if to atone for their previous mistakes, the quartet ends the album with two of its strongest songs. The understated and simple "Pouring Rain at Dawn," is a simple reminder that often times supple instrumentation and vocals can get the job done. Mockingbird Time ends with "Hey Mr. Man," a jittery and nuanced ending to an album that leaves one deep in thought.

Considering Gary Louris has touted Mockingbird Time as "The best Jayhawks album that's ever been done," it is most assuredly a disappointment. Tracks like "Black Eyed Susan," "Cinnamon Love," and "High Water Blues," are not exactly the kind of compositions that a band as iconic and transcendent as The Jayhawks should be creating. And yet on the strength of "Tiny Arrows," "Mockingbird Time," "Guilder Annie," and "Closer To Your Side," there is enough reason to think that even four decades removed from their humble beginnings, The Jayhawks are still crafting music that should be emulated. And that in and of itself is why Mockingbird Time is worth its 50 minutes.


Recommended If You Like Uncle Tupelo, The Gear Daddies, The Honeydogs, Big Star


Find Them Here http://www.thejayhawksofficial.com
 
Displaying posts 1 - 15 of 15
07:17 AM on 09/19/11
#2
Holly HoX!
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Thanks for the review. TTGG is still my favorite album from them.

Also, this is their 8th album.
07:22 AM on 09/19/11
#3
Gregory Robson
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Thanks for the review. TTGG is still my favorite album from them.

Also, this is their 8th album.
TTGG is my fave too. And yes, it's their eighth. I have no idea how 15 got in there. Huge error and one that never should have been written. Thanks for catching it. Cheers!
07:27 AM on 09/19/11
#4
Jeremy Aaron
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I loved the single right away-- it's vintage Jayhawks. I've been waiting patiently for the release to listen to the album in its entirety. It's exciting that they're at it again even if they'll never recapture the magic of Tomorrow the Green Grass and Hollywood Town Hall.
07:30 AM on 09/19/11
#5
Holly HoX!
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I loved the single right away-- it's vintage Jayhawks. I've been waiting patiently for the release to listen to the album in its entirety. It's exciting that they're at it again even if they'll never recapture the magic of Tomorrow the Green Grass and Hollywood Town Hall.

I can attest that they still capture that sound live though. Have you listened to the Women's Club albums?
07:59 AM on 09/19/11
#6
Jeremy Aaron
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I can attest that they still capture that sound live though. Have you listened to the Women's Club albums?
I haven't. Generally speaking, I very rarely listen to live recordings. I'll have to check those out, though.
11:11 PM on 09/19/11
#7
LiladyK
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Hey Mr. reviewer man, did you know that the Jayhawks are NOT a quartet? If you were a fan of the band, you'd have known that there are 5 members in this line up. You're thinking of the1980's line up. In addition, the band has not been "4 decades into their career". They've been together since 1985. That's 26 years, not 40. Again, I state, you're obviously not even a fan of this band.
Couldn't disagree with you more about your opinion of some of those songs, especially Cinnamon Love. Are you serious, dude? You write as if it is the worst track on the album, when it's my very favorite.
As for comparing the Women's Club albums to Tomorrow the Green Grass and Hollywood Town Hall, all 4 are excellent albums in their own right, but The Women's Club albums lack Mark Olson's additions, so you can't really say those two albums have the "same sound" as TTGG and HTH, can you?
05:03 AM on 09/20/11
#8
Gregory Robson
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Hey Mr. reviewer man, did you know that the Jayhawks are NOT a quartet? If you were a fan of the band, you'd have known that there are 5 members in this line up. You're thinking of the1980's line up. In addition, the band has not been "4 decades into their career". They've been together since 1985. That's 26 years, not 40. Again, I state, you're obviously not even a fan of this band.
Couldn't disagree with you more about your opinion of some of those songs, especially Cinnamon Love. Are you serious, dude? You write as if it is the worst track on the album, when it's my very favorite.
As for comparing the Women's Club albums to Tomorrow the Green Grass and Hollywood Town Hall, all 4 are excellent albums in their own right, but The Women's Club albums lack Mark Olson's additions, so you can't really say those two albums have the "same sound" as TTGG and HTH, can you?
They've been at it for nearly three decades. Relax. I said four, I meant three. Yes, they are a quintet. The album cover clearly depicts that. I wrote quintet absent-mindedly and forgot to correct it. If you want to adore "Cinnamon Love," that's your prerogative. I think it blows.

Also, I never compared any of their previous albums other than Rainy Day Music, those other comparisons were made by people that commented after the review was posted, so feel free to jump down their throats. Anyways, thanks for the hip checks and jabs. Hope you're proud of yourself.
05:42 AM on 09/20/11
#9
jdr2187
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Was disappointed by this album.
07:17 AM on 09/20/11
Eva Friedman
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So glad to see this being reviewed. It's a great release and I'm not disappointed in the slightest. Great review.
08:54 AM on 09/20/11
dorilou1969
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They've been at it for nearly three decades. Relax. I said four, I meant three. Yes, they are a quintet. The album cover clearly depicts that. I wrote quintet absent-mindedly and forgot to correct it. If you want to adore "Cinnamon Love," that's your prerogative. I think it blows.

Also, I never compared any of their previous albums other than Rainy Day Music, those other comparisons were made by people that commented after the review was posted, so feel free to jump down their throats. Anyways, thanks for the hip checks and jabs. Hope you're proud of yourself.

You missed the point Gregory Robson. She was pointing out that you are not very familiar with this band and it was painfully obvious in your review of the album. Two major errors about the makeup of the band and the longetivity of the band in the first paragraph. Don't you employ a fact checker?
09:03 AM on 09/20/11
cshadows2887
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So glad to have this band back.
10:26 AM on 09/20/11
Jeremy Aaron
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Hey Mr. reviewer man, did you know that the Jayhawks are NOT a quartet? If you were a fan of the band, you'd have known that there are 5 members in this line up. You're thinking of the1980's line up. In addition, the band has not been "4 decades into their career". They've been together since 1985. That's 26 years, not 40. Again, I state, you're obviously not even a fan of this band.
Couldn't disagree with you more about your opinion of some of those songs, especially Cinnamon Love. Are you serious, dude? You write as if it is the worst track on the album, when it's my very favorite.
As for comparing the Women's Club albums to Tomorrow the Green Grass and Hollywood Town Hall, all 4 are excellent albums in their own right, but The Women's Club albums lack Mark Olson's additions, so you can't really say those two albums have the "same sound" as TTGG and HTH, can you?

You missed the point Gregory Robson. She was pointing out that you are not very familiar with this band and it was painfully obvious in your review of the album. Two major errors about the makeup of the band and the longetivity of the band in the first paragraph. Don't you employ a fact checker?

If you were real fans of the band, you would appreciate that we took the time to review (positively, no less) an album that otherwise likely would have been off the radar of many if not most of our readers. I would have expected this sort of immaturity from fans of neon pop bands who won't accept anything less than our fellating their teen idols, not from fans of a venerable act like the Jayhawks, whom you do a disservice with childish comments such as these. Fact is, we don't have a "fact checker" so sometimes incorrect information seeps through. I'm sure you've been wrong at least once before; I hope the next time it happens, people are as much a dick to you as you are. And there's nothing incorrect about stating that the band's career has spanned four decades- it has ('80s, '90s, '00s and '10s). It doesn't imply the band has been in existence for forty years; read any journalistic pieces and you would see similar statements all the time. And your statements about Greg's familiarity with the band are just flat-out off-base. He specializes in the whole alt-country genre that these guys helped bring to prominence. I hope spouting this pointless nonsense was worth the effort of creating an account.
06:40 PM on 09/21/11
LiladyK
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To all of the above (minus dorilou1969), a "venerable band" (perfect description by the way) such as the Jayhawks is a band that has a long time following of dedicated followers, all of which HAVE served them well (as opposed to what was called a disservice), thank you very much. I doubt any of you would be willing to spend as much money as I have over the years just for a chance to see this band perform live....travel expenses and such; yes purely my choice, but nonetheless. Your assumption that I'm disservicing the band by calling anyone out on so many errors is hilarious. Any band would be flattered to have fans of admitted over the top geek status that take the time to even care about such ridiculous matters. lol. Initally saying the band has 15 albums, saying the current line-up is a quartet, and the additional admitted 4 decade error.....I was pointing out the obvious. I do believe that the majority of the review was pretty nice, and I applaud that to be honest......but, to call a song a "throwaway" and a "poor excuse for a filler", and then the worst of it....the ~ implied tone ~ of "how the hell could a band like that do something that stupid' comes off to me as an insult to this "venerable band" - especially when it is my favorite song. Whether you think I'm wrong or right in that feeling has no matter. It's how I feel. If people can't deal w/a differing opinion in those regards, then so be it. You said yours, and I said mine. About the HTH, TTGG, Women's Club album comparisons, I was conversing all thoughts in one conversation to all posters, not directing that to the reviewer.....I thought that would be understood. Yes, now that was MY bad.
07:27 PM on 09/21/11
Jeremy Aaron
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To all of the above (minus dorilou1969), a "venerable band" (perfect description by the way) such as the Jayhawks is a band that has a long time following of dedicated followers, all of which HAVE served them well (as opposed to what was called a disservice), thank you very much. I doubt any of you would be willing to spend as much money as I have over the years just for a chance to see this band perform live....travel expenses and such; yes purely my choice, but nonetheless. Your assumption that I'm disservicing the band by calling anyone out on so many errors is hilarious. Any band would be flattered to have fans of admitted over the top geek status that take the time to even care about such ridiculous matters. lol. Initally saying the band has 15 albums, saying the current line-up is a quartet, and the additional admitted 4 decade error.....I was pointing out the obvious. I do believe that the majority of the review was pretty nice, and I applaud that to be honest......but, to call a song a "throwaway" and a "poor excuse for a filler", and then the worst of it....the ~ implied tone ~ of "how the hell could a band like that do something that stupid' comes off to me as an insult to this "venerable band" - especially when it is my favorite song. Whether you think I'm wrong or right in that feeling has no matter. It's how I feel. If people can't deal w/a differing opinion in those regards, then so be it. You said yours, and I said mine. About the HTH, TTGG, Women's Club album comparisons, I was conversing all thoughts in one conversation to all posters, not directing that to the reviewer.....I thought that would be understood. Yes, now that was MY bad.

Funny how you come out and claim the bolded part above, but when the reviewer makes a statement, it's subject to your all-knowing scrutiny.

We have no problems with corrections or "copy-edits"-- we cover literally thousands of bands, so we're bound to get things wrong from time to time. And we're glad to accommodate whenever we've made an error. I'm pretty sure most of us who write reviews have been politely corrected about an inaccuracy at one point or another. However, there's no need for such hostility toward the reviewer's integrity. And yes, I think it's a disservice to the band to comment as you have. Think of a random person clicking on this review who may not be familiar with the band and then seeing your comments. I have the luxury of knowing the types of bands whose fans typically react in such a way, as most of our readers do, and it's not a positive reflection.

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