Note: Monsters of Folk is an all-star group consisting of three of this decade’s finest frontmen/singer/songwriters (Bright Eyes’ Conor Oberst, My Morning Jacket’s Jim James and solo artist M. Ward (also known for his work with Zooey Deschanel as She & Him)) and one of indie rock’s premier producers/multi-instrumentalists (Mike Mogis, known best as a bandmember/producer in Bright Eyes).
Sound: Despite the fact that every track was a collaborative effort, and you hear all three frontmen’s voices on nearly every song (either in a lead or backing role), most of the tracks sound distinctly like they originated from one of these masterminds—which they did, each of them brought ideas to the table and they molded the songs from there. So the end result sounds like a collection of Bright Eyes/Conor Oberst, My Morning Jacket and M. Ward outtakes from some of their most recent releases—which certainly isn’t a bad thing. These guys have been responsible for several of the decade’s best albums.
Heavy Rotation tracks: “Magic Marker”; “Dear God (Sincerely M.O.F.)”; “Say Please”; “The Right Place”
Medium Rotation tracks: “Baby Boomer”; “The Sandman, the Brakeman and Me”; “Ahead of the Curve”; “Whole Lotta Losin'”; “Map of the World”
Recommended: If you like what these artists do, Monsters of Folk will definitely be a pleasing, quality batch of new tunes representing each of their signature sounds. There are even a couple of standouts that are nearly in the same league as their best work. But on the whole, it feels like these elite artists held each other back a bit (which, of course, is very common in the supergroup or all-star band). If left to their own devices—with their usual bands or collaborators—they seemingly would have charted bolder, less predictable courses than the ones they chose for this album.