Monsters Of Folk
Monsters Of Rock was a brilliant idea. Take some of the genre's biggest names and send them out on the road together. Couldn't miss - and it didn't.
Monsters Of Folk sounds like a joke (conjures up an image of a 50-foot tall Bob Dylan ravaging New York City) but actually it is M. Ward, My Morning Jacket's Jim James, and from Bright Eyes, Conor Oberst and Mike Mogis. A drummer could work all night with these guys and never break a sweat. But with the popularity of, well, Bright Eyes, Fleet Foxes and Grizzly Bear, mellow Folk, strong on harmonies, was in vogue.
Though the four had played together both informally and onstage since '04, it wasn't until '09 that they released their self-titled debut.
1992: Fatboy (an indie release)
1996: No Doy - 550 Music
1998: Tin Cans And Car Tires
2002: Season's Greetings From moe.
2003: Wormwood -
2007: The Conch
2008: Sticks And Stones -
2012: What Happened To The La Las
2014: No Guts, No Glory
The name Monsters Of Folk inspires dread - a bunch of laid-back wannbe hippies strumming through "sincere and self-important" songs. But surprisingly, it's not that. In fact, the album mercifully has some energy.
There were a lot of initial comparisons to the Traveling Wilburys - Jeff Lynne, Bob Dylan, Roy Orbison, Tom Petty and George Harrison- which displeased the band and seemed unwarranted. There isn't that loose limbed camaraderie with vocal trade-offs that was a trademark of the Wilburys. Rather, Monsters Of Folk sounds like a cross between Crosby, Still & Nash and Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young (yes, there is a significant difference).
The album leans as much Country as Folk. The songs are basic but well-written with arrangements absent unnecessary embellishments. And the vocals are stunning and one of the album's key pluses. But the songs that work have some drive behind them. While the loose "Say Please," is the set's definitive track, "Whole Lotta Losin', "The Right Place" and "Baby Boomer" shouldn't be overlooked.