For nearly 3 decades now, The Jayhawks have peerlessly strummed and harmonized their way towards the veritable definition of Alt Country. 1985 saw Mark Olson (acoustic guitar, vocals), Gary Louris (electric guitar, vocals), Marc Perlman (bass), and Norm Rogers (drums), unite in Minneapolis, releasing their debut just a year later on indie label Bunkhouse Records. All these years later, 2016 has seen audiences delight once again in Gary Louris’s gift for melody, evident throughout Paging Mr. Proust (Thirty Tigers).
Today, the band stands as Louris, Perlman, and Tim O’Reagan on drums/vocals, and Karen Grotberg on keyboards and vocals, a return to the lineup that recorded the Sound of Lies (1997) and Smile (2000). They continue to offer chicken soup for the jangle-hungry soul, and have been hard at work, taking it to the people with tour dates spanning over 50 dates and as many cities, including upcoming stints this fall. Just has Louris croons on the album’s opener, “Quiet Corners & Empty Spaces”, “It’s the start of a brand new adventure.” Paging Mr. Proust boasts powerhouse producers alongside Gary Louris: R.E.M.’s Peter Buck and Tucker Martine whose lush credits include My Morning Jacket and The Decemberists.
During a Q&A with Salon.com, Louris shared “I’d say my favorite guitar player is probably Jimmy Page. He’s got the tone, he’s got the riffs, he’s got that kind of dark, ominous vibe that I like. Because when I play guitar, I change – it’s corny. But I’m kind of this badass all of a sudden. I feel like I’m 10 feet tall. I feel this part of me come out that only comes out when I play guitar – it’s a dark power, it’s not satanic, but it comes from deep down.” Adding Clarence White, Neil Young, and Pete Townsend amongst those who have impacted his style, Louris continued, “At the end of the day, I like some dissonance, and some kind of ominous weight.”
With Paging Mr. Proust, the band remains as influenced as evs by Gram Parsons and country Bob Dylan. PopMatters, though points out the touch of modernity evident in the summer single: “Comeback Kids” hearkens to Wilco’s mix of electronica.” Entertainment Weekly echoed the love, calling the single “a summery love song.” The title, btw, is indeed an homage to that Proust, and specifically Marcel Proust’s novel In Search of Lost Time. Proust joins referenced fellow literary brethren Robert Frost, David Foster Wallace and John Keats.
The band has been showered in long-deserved mainstream media praise, with features in USA Today (and, natch, Dad Rock), HuffPo, the Wall Street Journal, and countless other far-reaching readables. Louris told USA Today “”I absolutely love playing live,” Louris says, “but I never see myself as an entertainer. I see myself as a writer who has to entertain to make a living.” With over 18k sold already, it’s clear these Comeback Kids never left us.
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