The Jayhawks: The Jayhawks

RIYL: Flying Burrito Brothers, Gram Parsons, pickin’, grinnin’

That squealing sound you hear is the Jayhawks’ steadfastly loyal fan base wetting themselves over the long-overdue release of The Jayhawks, a.k.a. The Bunkhouse Album, on CD. Those who discovered the band with later albums like Tomorrow the Green Grass or Rainy Day Music will be surprised by just how countrified the goings are here. This is clearly Mark Olson’s band – guitarist Gary Louris, who would run the band after Olson’s departure, doesn’t get a single lead vocal here – as the songs contain more pedal steel and banjo than the rest of the band’s catalog combined. It is also, fittingly enough, stuffed with drinking songs, from the bouncy “Misery Tavern” to the cluckity guitar picking on “Six Pack on the Dashboard.” Louris does make his presence felt, though; he contributes several trademark harmony vocals along with his trademark tasteful guitar.


The end result is, quite frankly, the birth of the alt-country scene that would take shape roughly a decade later. Even those who prefer the pop-oriented Louris years to the folk-driven Olsen era will want to explore this Bunkhouse, stat. (Lost Highway 2010)

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