So are the Jayhawks broken up? On hiatus? Or what? The truth is, it doesn’t look like even the long-running Minneapolis band’s members know for sure. But said members are keeping busy with various projects.
Golden Smog, the so-called “alt-country super-group” that has at various times in its on-again-off-again existence included members of the Jayhawks, Wilco, the Replacements, Soul Asylum, Run Westy Run and probably a dozen other bands, recently unleashed Another Fine Day, which is another fine addition to their infrequent catalog. As with so many other bands pigeonholed in this genre, “alt-country” is for the most part a misnomer when it comes to classifying Golden Smog. From the Revolver-esque opener “You Make It Easy,” to the sunny harmonies and infectious chorus of “5-22-02” to the “Sunday Morning”-ish vibe of “Cure For This,” the Smog is nothing if not a pop-rock band in the mode of Cheap Trick, Big Star and the Kinks. And despite the fact that they only get together once every eight years or so, (their last release, Weird Tales, dropped in ’98), they do sound surprisingly like a band, a cohesive collection of players. While there are a few missteps (the overwrought power ballad “A Beautiful Mind” and the revved up rawker “Corvette”), the bulk of Another Fine Day is solid enough to make one wish Golden Smog wasn’t a just a side-project for those involved. Check it out here.
Meanwhile, Jayhawks drummer Tim O’Reagan has filled the void left by his band’s uncertain status by recording his pleasantly mellow self-titled solo debut. Tim O’Reagan features contributions from former ‘Hawks Gary Louris and Mark Olson, as well as guest spots by Son Volt bassist Jim Boquist and even the drummer’s parents, though most of the playing is handled by O’Reagan himself. The bittersweet results would’ve been right at home alongside the work of the best 70s-era singer songwriters, like Neil Young, John Prine and Jackson Browne. And if I’m not mistaken, there’s even an altogether welcome whiff of Bread floating through the eleven tuneful tracks here. Listen and buy here.