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Monsters of Folk

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Album Review

When M. Ward, Mike Mogis, Jim James, and Conor Oberst announced plans to record an album together, fans were quick to link the supergroup to the Traveling Wilburys, who blazed a similar path 20 years earlier. Truth be told, Monsters of Folk's emphasis on harmony vocals and atmospheric arrangements has just as much in common with the work of Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, even if the political concerns that grounded that group are mostly absent here. Instead, the self-titled Monsters of Folk tackles topics like religion, nature, love, and lust, with all four songwriters sharing vocals and songwriting credits. Mogis, who rose to prominence by playing a central but somewhat surreptitious role in Bright Eyes, receives less screen time than the others, preferring instead to stay behind the scenes as producer and sideman. Even so, his guitar solo during "Say Please" is one of the album's loudest moments, and his production helps draw the album together. That's important, because there are multiple genres at work here, from trip-hop to rootsy rock to homely, homespun pop. Spread over 15 tracks, the combination wears thin at several points, and a few of the songs feel like solo material as opposed to a composite product. Monsters of Folk has moments on flat-out beauty, though, and when the musicians pitch their voices together — as they do on the gorgeous "Slow Down Jo" — the teamwork really shines through.

Customer Reviews

Great stuff

In what could easily be another Traveling Wilburys-like release, Monsters of Folk, a collection of Bright Eyes’ Conor Oberst, Jim James of My Morning Jacket, Mike Mogis and M Ward (and on the tour, Will Johnson of Centro-matic, who could easily be the Monster-est of the Monsters...) have banded together to not be a supergroup. The album’s effect is slightly of four part-albums added together – although there is some collective songwriting, the identities of the individuals themselves define each of the songs: M Ward’s songs sound like M Ward, Conor Oberst’s sound like Bright Eyes. This is still A Good Thing – chances are that if you like one of these guys, you will be in the right place for all the others. Plus, the seriousness which can occasionally be pervasive in their individual releases is largely absent here – they seem to having some loose limbed fun. Some games have been upped, though – Oberst sounds right up for this one, with focus and drive that he has missed a little recently. Seen as a nice slice of Americana, Monsters of Folk (which we have to guess is a little self-deprecating) is a nice enough album, one that in time will assume the same role as the Wilbury’s did in Dylan’s canon.

Fast Grower

Didn't warm to it at first, but now I can't stop listening to it! 'Whole Lotta Losin' ' and 'Ahead of the Curve' are particular favourites. Buy it!

Awesome

Pre-ordered without hearing any of the tracks, glad I did brilliant record from start to finish

Biography

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '00s, '10s

Monsters of Folk were formed around the talents of indie rock giants Conor Oberst and Mike Mogis (Bright Eyes), M. Ward (She & Him), and Jim James (My Morning Jacket). Conceived in 2004, the project gradually formed out of on-stage collaborations and backstage hootenannies while the four musicians were on tour with their respective bands and solo projects. The members of this cheekily titled "supergroup" may come from folk backgrounds, but their style falls squarely in the "classic rock" camp....
Full bio