As first tipped here earlier this month, rock quintet My Morning Jacket will release its highly anticipated new album Sept. 20 via ATO/RCA. Recorded in upstate New York with producer John Leckie (Radiohead, New Order), the set has been christened "Z," drummer Patrick Hallahan tells Billboard.com.
The album will feature "10 or 11" songs, although "a couple others are teetering," Hallahan says. Three tracks have been unveiled on audiences during recent live shows: "Don Dante," "What a Wonderful Man" and "Off the Record."
Hallahan credits the studio debuts of new members Carl Broemel (guitar) and Bo Koster (keyboards), as well as recording outside the group?s usual Kentucky/Indiana homebase, with pushing MMJ in new directions.
"There are a lot of new elements involved," he says. "You can?t help but have made some changes. It definitely has some cool sounds on it, but it?s a different monster than [2003?s ?It Still Moves?]." That album debuted at No. 2 on Billboard?s Heatseekers chart and has sold more than 127,000 copies in the United States, according to Nielsen SoundScan.
"Carl and Bo are such amazing musicians," he continues. "We as a band had to step our musicianship when they joined. They challenged us. It was a huge learning experience. If anything, they contributed a lot of knowledge. They brought so much to the table."
Longtime fans can rest assured that one key aspect of the band?s sound -- frontman Jim James? reverb-drenched voice -- has not fallen out of the equation. "It?s the sixth member of the band," Hallahan says with a laugh. "We haven?t kicked him out yet."
And despite the band?s decision to record in New York, Hallahan says My Morning Jacket?s music remains inextricably linked to its members? geographic ties. "There didn?t used to be a lot of places to play in Louisville," he says. "It made us shoot outward instead of just settling for being a local band."
On the heels of a well-received set over the weekend at Bonnaroo in Manchester, Tenn., MMJ will begin a five-date run with Wilco June 21 in Detroit. A trip to Japan is also being penciled in for late July.
"The album comes out in September and that?s when the bulk of the touring will start," Hallahan says. "For now, we?re doing some here?s and there?s and getting the dust off, and then we?ll kick it into gear."