Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Monsters Of Folk - "Monsters Of Folk"

If you don’t already know, the Monsters of Folk are Conor Oberst of Bright Eyes, Jim James of My Morning Jacket, producer/instrumentalist Mike Mogis (Bright Eyes) and solo artist and one half of She & Him, M. Ward; a supergroup in all of its glory. Every song was written and played by each of the members without any outside help. Also, do not get too hung up on the “folk” moniker as they entertain all of their whims, including funky R&B, Beatles-esque power-pop and back-porch blues, while keeping everything tied together on their self-titled debut, out today on Shangri-La Music.

Jim James opens the album with his smooth falsetto over the funky trip-hop on “Dear God (Sincerely M.O.F)” on which all three trade verses with their unique voices including, M. Ward’s smoky cadence and Conor’s warbly wail. First single, “Say Please” is a rollicking pop-rock song with Beatles-esque melodies, an out-of-the-shadows unhinged guitar solo by Mike Mogis and drums by James. The next three songs each sound like the respective singer’s day job but with enough new dynamics to make it refreshing. The Conor-led “Temazcal” is more atmospheric and folky with ethereal backing vocals and sweeping synths over subtle but steady acoustic guitar strumming. With mandolin and whining steel guitar, “The Right Place” leans toward a more traditional Country sound with Jim James’s providing his rafters-rumbling falsetto. And like a train barreling down the tracks, “Baby Boomer” is led by M. Ward with assistance from Conor and more steel guitar. Standout track, “Losin’ Yo Head” is pure power-pop filtered through a saloon window with plinking piano and some of the best harmonizing on the album. “The Sandman, The Brakeman And Me” is another standout track with Matt’s soft acoustic chugging and picking along with subtle synths and more gorgeous vocal harmonies. Adhering to one of the main lyrical themes of the album, “His Master’s Voice” tackles religion with sweet vocals, serene sirens and gentle guitar picking to close the album on an introspective and calming note.

On first listen, the self-titled debut by Monster Of Folk is packed with excitement as you never know whose voice you may hear next or what style they might shift into. But what makes the album great is that even after the excitement wears off, you are still left with a well written and performed record that demands your attention for long after and is everything that you would expect from the members of this indie-rock supergroup.

For more info click here: http://shangrilamusic.com/ and http://monstersoffolk.com/

Also, watch their performance tonight ( 9/22) on Conan!


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