Songs for the apocalypse: The Jayhawks “Smile”

My good friend and longstanding AUK comrade Keith Hargreaves and I had a debate recently about the best and worst of The Jayhawks. To be fair, there was agreement that there wasn’t much “worst” but of the best alas the waters between us got choppier. For me, ‘Smile’ is a patchy album but one with some of the best songs the band ever recorded – ‘Better Days’ and ‘A Break in the Clouds’ being two such examples, but the title track too for me just has a melody and arrangement that 20 years on from the first time I heard it still feels magical. “Wake up, put your shoes on, Take a breath of the northern air – And rub those eyes” – the song’s opening lines which are essentially my average day. And in a strictly Northern sense, it’s perhaps a more Beatlesy album than anything that came before or after it, but no bad thing for that. Chin up.

Interview: The Jayhawks discuss a true joint effort making their new album ‘XOXO’

‘XOXO’ marks the latest instalment in the musical journey of The Jayhawks, a trip that has lasted over thirty-five years and numerous highlights. For the first time in the band’s long history ‘XOXO’ really is a collaborative album from a group who in the past have been celebrated and cherished for the songwriting prowess of head-honcho Gary Louris.  Given, that among a treasure trove of delights,  ‘XOXO‘ is arguably their finest album of recent years it has proven to be a sharp move.  All talk of change may unsettle longtime fans – who are an incredibly loyal bunch – but they needn’t be apprehensive as ‘XOXO’ is unmistakably The Jayhawks but, with Perlman, O’Reagan and Grotberg let loose and given their heads it gives a wonderful insight into what a  multi-faceted and dynamic band they really are. Americana UK speaks to the band and asks how opening up the songwriting duties has affected how they work and wha they feel t it brought to the record sonically and creatively. Continue reading “Interview: The Jayhawks discuss a true joint effort making their new album ‘XOXO’”

The Jayhawks “XOXO” (Sham/Thirty Tigers, 2020)

For many people The Jayhawks were one of the initial gateway drugs to the Americana and alt-country scene particularly with their 1992 classic ‘Hollywood Town Hall‘ with its chiming guitars, extraordinary harmonies and classic songwriting and as time and events have reshaped them and the personnel they have still retained not only their originality but also their identity. This is a proper band with proper tunes and a back catalogue to die for. And a sound! No one sounds like the Jayhawks – think about it. Just like no one sounds like Tom Waits – it is or it isn’t  – simple as that.  Continue reading “The Jayhawks “XOXO” (Sham/Thirty Tigers, 2020)”

The Jayhawks “Bitter Pill” – Listen

‘Bitter Pill’ is the latest track to be lifted from the incoming Jayhawks album ‘XOXO’ which is due for release July 10th via Sham/Thirty Tigers, the band’s most collaborative and diverse record in their four-decade-long career. Gary Louris comments: “This is a rare example of me writing a story song. Continue reading “The Jayhawks “Bitter Pill” – Listen”

Video: The Jayhawks “Dogtown Days”

It’s The Jayhawks.  It’s familiar jangling guitars.  It’s from the new album ‘XOXO’ due out on 10th July.  And this is how to make a video during the lock-down.  Social-distancing filming techniques combine well with vintage sound-check footage.  The video’s director, Philip Harder, says: “Rick Fuller, Rick Lawrence and I filmed The Jayhawks sound checking for New Band Night, 1985 at the 7th St Entry in Minneapolis.  Continue reading “Video: The Jayhawks “Dogtown Days””

Something for the weekend: Mark Olson and Ingunn Ringvold “Pipestone I Won’t Be Back”

We leave you this week dear reader with the opening track from the new record by sometime Jayhawker Mark Olson who’s collaborated with Norwegian roots singer Ingunn Ringvold for a third time on the album ‘Magdalen Accepts the Invitation’, out today on the Fiesta Red label. The record features an array of unconventional instrumentation played by Ringvold including the Armenian Qanon, the Mellotron, and djembe drums while Mark Olson plays the guitars and a dulcimer. All the tracks were completed on a Nagra field recorder, and there is something intimate and analogue about the sound – music without sharp edges feels welcome right now. See you on Monday if the world hasn’t burnt down by then. Solidarity people.

The Jayhawks return with new album, new song – Listen

The Jayhawks have shared ‘This Forgotten Town’, the opening song on the band’s new album ‘XOXO’ which comes out on July 10th via Sham/Thirty Tigers. Written jointly by Marc Perlman and Gary Louris, the new song finds Louris trading off lead vocals with Tim O’Reagan as Karen Grotberg joins in on harmonies, setting the stage for the band’s most collaborative album to date. Listen to it below. Continue reading “The Jayhawks return with new album, new song – Listen”

Classic Americana Albums: The Jayhawks “The Sound of Lies” (American Recordings, 1997)

In the winter of 1996 The Jayhawks were still ostensibly reeling from the departure of Mark Olson the supposed key writing partner of Gary Louris and certainly one of the figureheads of the band. The brace of albums that preceded 1996’s ‘Hollywood Town Hall’ and ‘Tomorrow The Green Grass’ were rightly lauded as genre-defining with their swooning harmonies, sharp songwriting and almost spiritual melodies so where would they go from here? Or even where could they go from here? Continue reading “Classic Americana Albums: The Jayhawks “The Sound of Lies” (American Recordings, 1997)”

10 great Americana drinking songs

What do you do when you can’t go the pub? Well lockdown has revealed that the answer is… drink more alcohol. So, to accompany your solo swilling, we’ve put together a fine blend of 10 of the most intoxicating Americana drinking songs for the bank holiday weekend. Of course we can only offer a small selection of what is quite an extensive menu, so please do add your own favourite aural tipples in the comments section at the bottom of the page. Continue reading “10 great Americana drinking songs”

AUK’s Chain Gang: The Jayhawks “I Hear You Cry”

Taking the massive helping hand from Mr Kerr last week, this link in the chain is forged of pure rock ‘n’roll gold. Gary Louris is a songwriter whose reputation should be far greater than it is (Jayhawks, Tedeschi Trucks, Dixie Chicks, Golden Smog etc.etc.) but how often have we said that about an artist operating in our particular sphere?  To illustrate the point this is a track that was a bonus only on the European original release of ‘Sound of Lies‘. Later editions did not even feature it until the remastering a few years back. It is a beautiful, melancholy delight that gives and gives. Enjoy it loud or hushed.