Songs You May Have Missed #588


The Jayhawks: “Quiet Corners & Empty Spaces” (2016)

I’ll defer here to Walter Tunis’ review of the Jayhawks’ Paging Mr. Proust album from the Lexington Herald Leader:

The opening tune to the new Jayhawks album Paging Mr. Proust isn’t just a fine encapsulation of the band’s Americana and pop inspirations. It is quite possibly the perfect pop song.

Clocking in at three minutes, there isn’t a wasted breath on Quiet Corners and Empty Spaces. It exudes melancholy and a hint of restless urgency (“Not far, a blue guitar was playing; it drew me like it knew me, saying…”) then strides along with such an effortless melodic flow as to recall The Byrds at their best. But then there are the vocals: a three-part harmony design created by Jayhawks chieftain Gary Louris along with keyboardist Karen Grotberg and drummer Tim O’Reagan. That’s the dealbreaker: a simple, infectious but overwhelmingly emotive wave of singing that proclaims, in definitive terms, that The Jayhawks have returned.

So captivating is the song that upon first listen to the album, I hit repeat five times before exploring the other riches within Paging Mr. Proust.

Read more here:

See also:

See also:


Photo credit: Heidi Ehalt

Jayhawks Ride Rocky Path to Reformation


(via AP) by David Bauder

NEW YORK (AP) — To a certain extent, singer-songwriter Gary Louris is fighting against history by reforming the Jayhawks.

“The precedent isn’t very good as far as bands putting out their best work late in their careers — in rock, it’s very rare,” said Louris, 61. “That doesn’t mean it has to be that way.”

The Jayhawks try to prove that point with Friday’s release of “Paging Mr. Proust,” a concise collection of melodic pop-rock with a few twists. The lovely “Quiet Corners & Empty Spaces” stands with the best work ever by the Minneapolis-based group that made an initial impression with early-1990s songs “Blue” and “Waiting for the Sun.”

No one can accuse the Jayhawks of living off past glory. In fact, their failure to achieve the greatness many had predicted became a defining characteristic and internal motivator. The band and Louris lived through their share of tumult…

Read more:

The Jayhawks are Back!


Roots country band The Jayhawks are a favorite of this blog and their welcome return in the form of new album Paging Mr. Proust arrives April 29th.

Its lead track and first single “Quiet Corners & Empty Spaces” has the sweeping, melodic sound of their classic Rainy Day Music LP. Listen to it here.

Recommended Albums #63


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”

Songs You May Have Missed #312


The Jayhawks: “A Break in the Clouds” (2000)

Another pretty Gary Louris tune; there are dozens of them waiting to be discovered if you like the sound of blissful, cathartic choruses and country rock harmonizing. It’s like the Eagles minus the egos.

See also:

See also:

Songs You May Have Missed #206


The Jayhawks: “I’d Run Away” (1995)

Alternative country, or “alt-country” (or Americana, or No Depression, or Insurgent country) was apparently as difficult a genre to name as to define. Basically it’s a country-rock hybrid that got its name during (and probably because of) the “alternative rock” branding of 90’s rock music. (Why bands like R.E.M. and U2 got labeled “alternative” in the first place I’ll never understand, but that’s another matter.)

The sound of alt country could be pretty diverse: some of it sounded like traditional honky-tonk country music, some leaned toward bluegrass, some was essentially rockabilly, and some could almost be called contemporary folk. But most music that fit the loose heading (or many headings) seemed to share a lo-fi aesthetic and a heartfelt lyrical style that eschewed the clichés of mainstream pop. Steel guitars didn’t hurt, either.

The Jayhawks, who actually made their first album in 1986, are considered to be among the godfathers of the movement. By the time of the release of 1995’s Tomorrow the Green Grass LP which included “I’d Run Away” some would claim they were already verging on jumping the shark of alt country for a lighter, more pop-leaning sound. But as far as I’m concerned the record is among their very best work–and the band is my favorite in the genre.

See also:

See also:

%d bloggers like this: