Circuital

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Circuital
Studio album by My Morning Jacket
Released May 31, 2011
Recorded Louisville, Kentucky
Genre Psychedelic rock, indie rock, space rock
Length 45:07
Language English
Label ATO Records (US/Canada)
Rough Trade (UK)
Spunk Records/EMI (Australia)
Producer Jim James and Tucker Martine
My Morning Jacket chronology
Evil Urges
(2008)
Circuital
(2011)
Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
The A.V. Club B+[1]
Consequence of Sound 4/5 stars[2]
Pitchfork Media (7.2/10)[3]
Rolling Stone 4/5 stars[4]
Slant Magazine 3.5/5 stars[5]
Spin 8/10 stars[6]
Sputnikmusic 2.5/5 stars[7]
Clash (magazine) 8/10 stars[8]

Circuital is the sixth album by My Morning Jacket. It was released on May 31, 2011.

The album received mainly positive reviews and sold 55,000 copies in the first week of release.[9] It debuted at number 5 on the Billboard 200, improving on the band's previous highest debuting album Evil Urges, which entered the chart at number 9. The album was also released as a double 12" 45 RPM vinyl set and as a deluxe vinyl edition. As promotion for the album, the band gave away one free download per week for six weeks until April 12. The first five tracks were recorded during their shows at New York’s Terminal 5 in October 2010, while the final download was the new album's title track.

The songs "Wonderful" and "Outta My System" were originally written by Jim James for Dr. Teeth and the Electric Mayhem to perform in the upcoming Muppets film and tour,[10] but these were left unused after the executive who hired him was fired.[11] Of the turn of events James said: "So now, twice, Muppet glory has been within my grasp...it's pretty heartbreaking, but it did propel us just to kick into high gear and finish our own record."[10] On November 30, 2011, the album received a nomination in the 54th Grammy Awards for Best Alternative Music Album.

Uncut placed the album at number 35 on its list of "Top 50 albums of 2011".[12] It was also named the 9th best album by Clash Magazine, the third best by Paste and KCRW music director as well as 6th on The Record Exchange's best of 2011 lists and the 11th best by Rolling Stone.[13][14] It also was named 14th best album of 2011 by American Songwriter, honorable mention by Glide, 78th best by Popmatters, and 20th best by Mojo. This album peaked #1 on the independent albums chart,#3 on the rock albums, and #3 on the alternative albums charts.[15][16]

Track listing[edit]

All songs written by Jim James.

  1. "Victory Dance" - 5:40
  2. "Circuital" - 7:19
  3. "The Day Is Coming" - 3:17
  4. "Wonderful (The Way I Feel)" - 4:17
  5. "Outta My System" - 3:22
  6. "Holdin' On to Black Metal" - 4:19
  7. "First Light" - 3:46
  8. "You Wanna Freak Out" - 3:20
  9. "Slow Slow Tune" - 4:31
  10. "Movin' Away" - 5:13

Note: "Holdin' On to Black Metal" includes portions of "E-Saew Tam Punha Huajai (Advice Column for Love Troubles Part I)", written by Kwan Jai & Kwan Jit Sriprajan. James used the song as a loop to record the demo. The band then used the loop as guidance as to how the track needed to.

On the LP version of Circuital, the intro to "The Day Is Coming" varies slightly and seems a couple seconds longer than the other released formats.

Personnel[edit]

  • Jim James - vocals, guitar, sound effects
  • Tom Blakenship - bass guitar
  • Patrick Hallahan - drums, percussion
  • Carl Broemel - guitar, vocals, pedal steel, saxophone, horn arrangements
  • Bo Koster - keyboards, vocals, synthesizers, pianos, organs, glockenspiel, percussion

Additional Musicians[edit]

  • Jeremy Kittel - violin, viola
  • Ben Sollee - cello
  • Oscar Herstrom - trombone, euphonium
  • Chris Gregg - alto saxophone, baritone saxophone
  • Ref Shires - trumpet, flugelhorn
  • Black Metal Girls - group backing vocals (track 6)

Songs[edit]

All tracks were recorded in the band's hometown of Louisville, Kentucky in a church gymnasium with producer Tucker Martine. The album was mixed at Blackbird Studio in Nashville, Tennessee.[17] Music site Antiquiet stated the main themes of Circuital deal with "growing older and wiser, but with a respect for past experiences." "Victory Dance" was brought on by Jim James' experience with Lasik surgery before the sessions for Circuital. The day after surgery, James began to play his Wurlitzer keyboard and reflected on the surgery. The lyrics, "Should I close my eyes and prophesize?" are taken from the surgery.

The title track was recorded on the band's second attempt. James explained to UK newspaper The Sun that the song is about the circular nature of life. Originally conceived as a Muppets song for Dr. Teeth and the Electric Mayhem, the song was to be performed by My Morning Jacket live with the Muppets on stage with the band behind a curtain, playing live. However, when the Muppets project was disbanded, the song was recorded for Circuital. "Outta My System" was also to be part of the failed Muppets tour. The song is about a man looking back on his reckless youth and, despite some risky life choices, the man is glad he did all those things and to be able to "get it outta my system." On the origins of "Holdin' On to Black Metal," bassist Tom Blankenship stated to IFC that it deals with holding on to something that you loved as a child that helped you cope with growing up. He went on to say: "How difficult would adolescence have been without the music that helped carry us through it? No one enters adulthood feeling none of the emotions they did when they were sixteen." The song contains an all female choir, consisting of friends of the band.

Album cover[edit]

The album cover is a close-up shot of a Magic eye tube fitted onto vintage radio receivers from the 1930s. The purpose of tuning eyes in these radio sets was to help tune a station in at its strongest point on the dial. So when the perfect frequency was found, the Magic Tuning Eye would be lit up all the way (like the album cover's). The percentage of light shown signified the strength of the signal. As mentioned to Rolling Stone magazine by James, the album cover depicting the Magic eye tube was inspired by his own experience of getting Lasik eye surgery, saying: "The whole experience of it is so fucked up, it's somebody slicing your eyeball open and shooting you with a laser." It also inspired James to write the song "Victory Dance."

References[edit]