When: Fri., Feb. 17, 7:30 p.m. 2012
Though Jayhawks cofounders Mark Olson and Gary Louris continued making good music after Olson left the band in 1995, at some point each must have realized he was better off with the other—together they've delivered some of the best rock harmonies of the past three decades. They began collaborating again in fits and starts about four years ago, and in 2009 they released the lovely duo album Ready for the Flood—and because Louris had never given up control of the band, it was only a matter of time before Olson reentered the fold. Over the past couple of years the Jayhawks have been playing old favorites, but last fall they finally released their first new album since 2003. Mockingbird Time (Rounder) clearly benefits from the return of Louris and Olson's glorious harmonies, but though the lineup involved was responsible for the band's best music—it also includes bassist Marc Perlman, drummer Tim O'Reagan, and keyboardist Karen Grotberg—here it sounds oddly uninspired. On his own, Louris pushed the Jayhawks away from the post-Byrds/Gram Parsons alt-country template, mixing in psychedelia, hard-rock flourishes, and even some misguided rhythmic loops. It didn't always work, but the band never felt static—a problem Mockingbird Time occasionally suffers from. I love the gorgeous sweet-voiced ballad "Tiny Arrows" and the strutting melody of "She Walks In So Many Ways," but when the Jayhawks feebly jam on the tedious "High Water Blues" or mouth cliches like "Tomorrow is gone like the wind" on the title track, it sounds like all the band did was show up. It's good to have Olson and Louris back together, but here's hoping the band remembers to spend more time writing songs for the next record. —Peter Margasak Kaiser Cartel opens.
Price: $35, $32 in advance