Recommended Albums #63

jayhawks

The Jayhawks: Rainy Day Music (2003)

Alt-country pioneers the Jayhawks, led by front man and main songwriter Gary Louris, released perhaps their defining statement with their seventh album, 2003’s Rainy Day Music.

The Ethan John’s-produced record was a return to the band’s core country-rock and jangle-pop musical sweet spot after their previous album Smile, produced by Bob Ezrin, experimented with drum loops, electronic sounds and other decidedly un-Americana touches.

lourisFortunately the sweet melodies and pop hooks remained intact. Bands like the Byrds, Buffalo Springfield and even Crosby, Stills and Nash are regularly cited as points of reference to describe the Jayhawks’ sound, but it’s the songwriting of Louris that elevates the band above mere imitation of the styles and sound of those bands.

If the pop music landscape still allowed room on the radio for bands like the above-mentioned, Louris and the Jayhawks would be giants.

But the heyday of country rock, when Poco, Marshall Tucker Band, Pure Prairie League and the Eagles sent sweet harmonies wafting over steel guitar licks across top 40 radio waves, is long gone. Country radio is as subtle as a flying hammer, and as refined as a red Dixie cup of Pabst Blue Ribbon.

The Jayhawks stand as perhaps the best of the bands who still trade in this, one of many out-of-fashion genres.

Long may they rain!

Listen to: “Tailspin”

Listen to: “Angelyne”

Listen to: “Save it For a Rainy Day”

Listen to: “Madman”

Listen to: “Will I See You in Heaven”

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