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Paging Mr. Proust

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The Jayhawks 4/29/2016

Review

When Mark Olson parted ways with the Jayhawks in 1996, the band responded with 1997's Sound of Lies, one of their scrappiest and most eclectic albums. It was as if the Jayhawks (in particular Gary Louris) wanted to show the world they were still strong and lively despite the departure of one of their co-founders. Olson returned to the Jayhawks for the 2011 reunion album Mockingbird Time, only to leave the band again on less than cordial terms. Released in 2016, Paging Mr. Proust is the first Jayhawks studio project since, and once again it finds Louris and his bandmates mixing up their formula, introducing new edges and angles to the group's evocative, lonesome Midwestern sound. Louris adds lots of jagged guitar to the loop-based construction of "Ace," while "Lost the Summer" is a lean, ominous rocker with a noisy attack. ("Pretty Roses in Your Hair" is another, more subtle tune built around a ghostly drum loop.) Much of the time, Louris' vocals and melodies follow the template he's established in the past, but there's a fresh degree of energy in these performances. Peter Buck and Tucker Martine (who co-produced the album with Louris) have given the guitars an edgier and less pastoral sound than one might expect from the Jayhawks. Neil Young is still the clear inspiration behind Louris' soloing, but here the tone is sharper and the crunch has more impact, even when the songs are gentle at heart. The yin and yang between the sharp guitar work from Louris and Kraig Johnson and the sweetness of the harmonies of Louris, keyboard player Karen Grotberg, and drummer Tim O'Reagan is honestly satisfying. And co-producer Buck has brought along some friends from his days in R.E.M., including Mike Mills and Scott McCaughey. All in all, Paging Mr. Proust is an album that honors the traditions of the Jayhawks but isn't afraid to play with convention. And if Mockingbird Time was a reminder of how well Olson and Louris complement one another, this album demonstrates that Louris still knows how to make a memorable album as the group's sole leader. ~ Mark Deming
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  1. # Track Artist Length
  2. 1 Quiet Corners & Empty Spaces The Jayhawks 3:5
  3. 2 Lost the Summer The Jayhawks 3:31
  4. 3 Lovers of the Sun The Jayhawks 3:15
  5. 4 Pretty Roses in Your Hair The Jayhawks 4:20
  6. 5 Leaving the Monsters Behind The Jayhawks 3:45
  7. 6 Isabel's Daughter The Jayhawks 3:24
  8. 7 Ace The Jayhawks 5:37
  9. 8 The Devil Is in Her Eyes The Jayhawks 3:35
  10. 9 Comeback Kids The Jayhawks 4:0
  11. 10 The Dust of Long-Dead Stars The Jayhawks 3:36
  12. 11 Lies in Black & White The Jayhawks 3:32
  13. 12 I'll Be Your Key The Jayhawks 3:45

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