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Monsters Of Folk
Monsters Of Folk, Conor Oberst, Yim Yames
Monsters Of Folk
Genres: Alternative Rock, Folk, Pop, Rock
  •  Track Listings (15) - Disc #1

Monsters of Folk is a collaboration of Conor Oberst, Jim James, M. Ward- three of this generations most critically acclaimed voices and Mike Mogis , one of the most sought after producers working today.


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CD Details

All Artists: Monsters Of Folk, Conor Oberst, Yim Yames, M. Ward, Mike Mogis
Title: Monsters Of Folk
Members Wishing: 3
Total Copies: 0
Label: Shangri-La
Original Release Date: 9/22/2009
Release Date: 9/22/2009
Genres: Alternative Rock, Folk, Pop, Rock
Styles: Indie & Lo-Fi, Contemporary Folk, Adult Alternative
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaCD Credits: 1
UPC: 811771010446


Product Description
Monsters of Folk is a collaboration of Conor Oberst, Jim James, M. Ward- three of this generations most critically acclaimed voices and Mike Mogis , one of the most sought after producers working today.

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CD Reviews

Monsters of Folk - S/T 9/10
Rudolph Klapper | Los Angeles / Orlando | 09/23/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)

"The announcement of Monster of Folk's debut album this year instinctively drew a knee-jerk reaction of dread from me, despite its pristine indie pedigree. After Tinted Windows defined the term "novelty supergroup" yet again for the year 2009, I was just a little worried that ego and the sense of "fun" that routinely leads artists to ill-advised collaborations would cause the sum of talent here to be considerably less than its individual parts. Luckily for me and fans of the people on display here, Monsters of Folk works more like a well-oiled, cohesive "best-of" collection of each, rather than a clash of styles or a neutered effort of bland, wankish jam sessions. Made up of Conor Oberst (Bright Eyes, Mystic Valley Band), M. Ward (She & Him), Jim James (My Morning Jacket), and Mike Mogis (producer extraordinaire), Monsters of Folk's terrible title belies its eminently accessible nature.

Unlike, say, James Iha and Taylor Hanson, Monsters of Folk's previous bodies of work definitely share a sort of kinship. From Oberst's post-Cassadaga work, to James' obviously country-ish bent, to Ward's folksy, `60s-pop-worshipping solo releases, it seems almost preordained that this foursome would eventually find each other, with Mogis' instrumental wizardry and understated production serving as the glue of the album. Best of all, despite its 15-song length and influences-on-their-sleeves style, Monsters of Folk never comes off as a gimmick, or, worse, a mere compilation. Oberst never dominates one track and then disappears on the next; James' doesn't make one song his personal My Morning Jacket clone and then let someone else take the spotlight on the next. Rather, Monsters of Folk melds them all into what consistently feels like a natural record, one where new listeners might be surprised to learn of the members' disparate backgrounds.

"Dear God (sincerely M.O.F.)" does start things off pretty shaky, and you'd be forgiven for thinking it was an Evil Urges outtake, and a terrible one at that. But the bad taste is quickly wiped away with the irresistible, fuzzy energy of "Say Please," where the gorgeous but clearly distinct harmonies gives the song a true group feel, a `la Crosby Stills and Nash (or, dare I say it, the Beatles). From there on it's a veritable treasure trove of woodsy, vibrant music, a grab bag of styles notable not for their differences but by how well they mesh as one. Hear Ward and company burn it on up tempo alt-country rocker "Whole Lotta Losin;'" hear Oberst do his best Johnny Cash impression on the fingerpicked western-flavored "Man Named Truth;" best of all, hear all three of them play off each other on the restless build-up of highlight "Baby Boomer."

It's easy to distinguish between the three vocalists, from Ward's smoky, soulful vocals to Oberst' wobbling entreaties to James' immediately identifiable falsetto, yet their effortless harmonies and vocal interplay is sharpened to a lovingly refined point. Musically the band's closest touchstones are Ward's last two solo efforts, as songs like the woodsy "Goodway," "Magic Marker" and many more mimic the kind of `60s pop/Americana folk pastiche he's strived for, although Oberst's Mystic Valley influence is well represented here (his inexplicable Mexico fascination continues on "Temazcal"). But far be it from them to discriminate - songs like acoustic shuffler "Map of the World" reflect Fleet Foxes' multi-part harmonies and Appalachian character, while "The Right Place" sounds like vintage, It Still Moves-era My Morning Jacket. The record as a whole continues to build up its own identity as it goes on, thanks in large part to Mogis' eclectic production and the refusal of the tracks to fall into a stylistic rut.

Sure, it's a little long, and the opening and closing tracks are two of the worst bookends for an album in recent memory, but perhaps that's just merely a testament to the strength of the material in between. After hearing Monsters of Folk for the first time it's easy to write it off as a success in its genre and a (huge) success for the supergroup ideal, but repeated listens show it as much more than that. Songs like "Say Please" or "Baby Boomer" practically sound like they were recorded in a live setting, the band's energy a nearly palpable feeling throughout. Monsters of Folk is a great album, and it achieves this excellence not with fancy studio tricks, particularly amazing songwriting, or virtuoso musicianship, but with that which so many other supergroups have lacked: a refreshing passion for the material, the kind of passion that is impossible to ignore."
Didn't know them, now I do.
Nova137 | 11/14/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)

"I have to admit the only member I was even remotely aware of was Conor Oberst, who was featured in a RS piece some months ago. A brief mention of this venture was all I remember, other than his hiatus from making genius music.

So, I was intrigued when my wife bought this album from Sound Garden Records in Syracuse, NY before we attended the SSO concert that night. We listened before going into the symphony and we both thought it "just ok".

My wife brought it to work and played it in the vault for a couple of days and brought it home without a word. Later that week I took it out and asked her how it was received. She said that it just seemed to go a bit unnoticed and wasn't great background music (she works with cancer patients and plays music during the radiation treatments).

I started listening to it a couple of weeks ago, to and from work, and it has surely grown on me. One of the reviews I read stated that this effort seemed to lack cohesiveness and was a bit disjointed. Although it does exhibit these two results, I think it's to be expected from this so-called "supergroup", especially theme-wise (as was implied in the critique), song-to-song.

But, musically, these four sound like they have been together as a band for years and are at that point in a band's career where its time to compile a "Greatest Hits" record. I think the music is just that good and the musicianship is simply stellar. Each song has a distinct flavor all its own, which speaks to the talent of each member, and the depth of talent and richness of melody each can bring. The lyrics are a real treat as well and don't let the listener down.

Let me give my song by song run down:

1. Dear God (Sincerely M.O.F.)--Deeply moving, spiritual song. Each member
sings their own refrain to God. Well done.

2. Say Please--Killer guitar. Beat is Beatlesque with strong influence of

3. Whole Lotta Losin'--Credence opening. Hint of Jeff Lynne vocals. Travelin
Wilbury vibe. This isn't a copy, though. Its original; the real thing.

4. Temazcal--"A 'Temazcal' is a traditional Native American Indian steam bath
that has been used for both healing and ritual ... The Temazcal serves as
a calming and therapeutic experience." The synths stand out on this one.
This is the most mystical song on the CD, both lyrically and emotionally.

5. The Right Place--The second most folksie song on the record. A great
little ditty.

6. Baby Boomer--The first most folksie song on the record. Can you say I was
influenced by Arlo Guthrie ladies and gentleman? Great lyrics/commentary,

7. Man Named Truth--Great pickin'. The third most folksie song on the
record. The mandolin shines through. Great story tellin', too.

8. Goodway--The most "country" of them all. An interesting element to this
song is the "excerpt from an anonymous letter read immediately before being
burned" inserted at the end of the song, read quietly, just audible below
the melody.

9. Ahead of the Curve--Great country rock acoustic number.

10. Slow Down Jo--Great vocal harmonies on this one. Like its name, it slows
things down and brings vocals together, at times, mixed with a terrific
steel guitar.

11. Losin to Head--So Beatles. All Beatles. Again, this is not imitation that
feels wrong, but is original with distinct influential undertones. There is
a guitar in this song that sounds like John was brought into the album to
play guitar (no not George, I know).

12. Magic Marker--The first time you are reminded of the "How many licks does
it take to get to the center of a Tootsie Pop", and you think, "What are
they bringing that up for?" But, the nostalgia is brought along with a
melody and harmonizing done so well that, in the end, you feel yummy just
like the song. There is a guitar part in the center and it tastes oh-

13. Map of the World--Good song. From the website: "James, who has lately been
producing solo material under the moniker Yim Yames, concurs: `It was very
peaceful and hilarious. No ego. No drama. Just a lot of song-trading and
ideas floating around and good times. We worked hard on the songs and the
ideas, but it never felt strenuous or rushed. There were several moments
during the Malibu sessions where we would all be in the room recording all
at once - on `Map of the World,' for example, or `Losin Yo Head' -- and
they were really magic. I think we all felt like we were in high school
again, picking up new instruments for the first time and just losing
ourselves to the moment and having fun.'"

14. The Sandman, The breakeman and Me--Classic train song. Well done.

15. His Master's Voice--If you don't have a spiritual side, maybe the subject
matter will be off-putting. For me, the subject matter combined with the
acoustic guitar and vocals make this one simply magical. probably my
favorite one on the record.

Buy it today.
LOVE IT!!!!!
Maluhia | 11/30/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)

"I've never heard of any of the artists in this band before, or any of their individual bands. But my boyfriend played this CD for me and I fell in love with it!!!! I immediately went out and bought it for myself, as well as 3 extra copies that I'm giving away as Christmas presents! It's THAT good!!! Mellow but not boring or sleepy."