My Morning Jacket Wants to be Dengue Fever

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Andrew Youssef/OC Weekly

Kentucky band My Morning Jacket's foray into revivalism on their latest, Circuital (out May 31),  involve making soul palatable to bros via rock & roll. Actually it's something frontman Jim James has done throughout their career, but on their latest single "Holdin' On to Black Metal," James goes beyond reinventing Motown and Stax-Volt and delves into 1960s Thai pop. 
In an interview with Spin magazine, James namedrops Ubon Pattana, "an obscure Thai group that emerged in the late-'60s, and their music mixed the far-out adventurousness of American psych with traditional Thai instruments like the khaen and lyrics sung in their native language." as an influence.

It's actually more than that: James reinvents one of their songs and turns it into "Holdin' On to Black Metal."

My Morning Jacket's Facebook page says, "The inspiration behind 'Holdin On To Black Metal' comes from the song 'E-Saew Tam Punha Huajai' by Kwan Jai & Kwan Jit Sriprajan that has been respectfully acknowledged and credited in the Circuital liner notes. The song appears on the amazing Siamese Soul: Thai Spectacular 1960s-80s Volume 2 compilation that is available to pick up here (and highly recommended)."

Hmmm. Where have we seen this before? Oh yeah, here. Dengue Fever has been co-opting Southeast Asian 1960s pop since before 2003. During the 1960s, American soldiers were stationed all over countries in Southeast Asia because of the Vietnam War. American radio, via the Far East Network, broadcast the Beach Boys, the Beatles and the Rolling Stones all over the region. The result? A slew of bands writing with a rock & roll/surf-pop aesthetic in Thai, Cambodian, Filipino and Vietnamese.

Some 40, 50 years later, all these songs are making its way back to the source--America! And we have to say that as much as  Dengue Fever has been around forever, Jim James is probably going to be the biggest advocate for this long forgotten music. Up next, a remake of VST & Co. with Jeff Porcaro's signature shuffle!

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