Monsters of Folk – Self-Titled [Album Review]

by That Guy on September 14, 2009

Monsters of Folk

For all the hype surrounding indie supergroup Monsters of Folk (Yim Yames, M. Ward, Conor Oberst, Mike Mogis), their new self-titled album does more than deliver. It exceeds my expectations and that says a lot considering how much I love Ward and Yames and that I’ve been anticipating this album for well over a year.

What Monsters of Folk are doing to the indie music scene reminds me of what LeBron James and Kobe Bryant did to high school basketball – they’re just operating on a completely different level. While everyone else was slapping the backboard on layups, LeBron was dunking from the free throw line and using his 36 year old looking face to buy everyone beer after the game. And while Kobe was taking R&B star Brandy to his high school prom, everyone else was worried about the hickey Jenny from earth science class gave them. Monsters of Folk are doing the music version of whatever that is.

Monsters of Folk is an emblem of four exceptional artists in their prime, each churning out some of the best music of their careers and converging at just the right time to deliver an album for the ages. It’s like catching lightning in a bottle.

Fans of the individuals that make up Monsters of Folk will be pleased to hear an equal dose of Yames, Ward, and Oberst throughout, each taking on an even amount of lead singing duties. And there are magical moments for each. Oberst delivers an absolute gem with “Ahead of the Curve” (surprisingly Oz’s early favorite), M. Ward particularly shines on “Sandman, the Brakeman and Me” and Yames delivers his finest on “Losin Yo Head” (and a heckuva spiritual on “His Master’s Voice”). They also tickle the eardrums by passing the microphone around on numbers like “Say Please” and “Baby Boomer.” But Monsters of Folk are at their best when they share the microphone at once. On songs like “The Right Place” and “Magic Marker,” the three voices blend together at times to form a sort of bionic voice with superhuman powers (like Lee Majors in The Six Million Dollar Man).

If you can find a better album, I’d like to hear it. Please let me know. Monsters of Folk will be released on September 22nd and the guys will be touring beginning in October.

Monsters of Folk – Say Please

Tour Dates:

13 Vancouver , BC- Orpheum
14 Portland , OR- Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall
15 Seattle , WA- Paramount Theatre
17 Oakland , CA- Fox Theater
18 Los Angeles , CA- The Greek Theater
20 San Diego , CA- Spreckels Theatre
21 Phoenix , AZ- Orpheum Theater
22 Santa Barbara , CA- Santa Barbara Bowl
28 Omaha , NE- Holland Center
29 Minneapolis , MN- Orpheum Theatre
30 Chicago , IL- Auditorium Theatre
31 Louisville , KY- Louisville Palace Theatre

02 Toronto , ON- Massey Hall
03 Boston , MA- The Orpheum
06 New York , NY- United Palace
08 New York , NY- Beacon Theater
09 Philadelphia , PA- Academy of Music

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Woody September 14, 2009 at 9:15 am

Great review. Couldn’t have said it any better. I had very low expectations. I really thought that it was going to be something that they just threw together and people would buy off of name recognition alone but they crushed it. I wouldn’t call it my favorite album of the year but it certainly is one of the frontrunners.

Andrew September 14, 2009 at 2:50 pm

Seriously looking forward to seeing them play down here in San Diego at Spreckels Theatre.

oz September 14, 2009 at 6:56 pm

I agree also. I expected the album to be good and it way exceeded my expectations. I’ve never been a Bright Eyes fan, but I love Oberst on this album. The only weak spot in my opinion is Ward’s Slow Down Jo.

Shirk September 15, 2009 at 8:48 am

This is a really cool album. Had it playing all morning and it’s really tasty. I hate to say it, but I “The Right Place”just played and I was totally taken to a Traveling Wilburys kind of place. Other tunes have some really nice production. With a group called “Monsters of Folk” I wasn’t expecting to hear drum machines and so much fuzzed out guitar. This a really interesting body of work, full of good writing, interesting production and some nice multi-colored ear candy sprinkles.

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