25 September 2009

jamming: Monsters of Folk (self-titled debut)

The strength of this amalgamation is its coherence. I half-expected a Postal Service-esque compilation of Conor Oberst, Matt Ward, and Jim James (aka Yim Yames) songs signed, sealed, stamped, and delivered to Mike Mogis to do his production work on and pump out a tidy mix-tape. I was wrong, forgive me. What I get is the same sort of mix tape, but not with self-contained units, but a unified whole. It's a fun (albeit obsessive and nerdy) game to try and guess who penned which song, mostly still easy and evident, but sometimes puzzling. Each of the three primary songwriters plumbs such similar territory that the result is less competitive and more synergistic. M. Ward's lo-fi blues howling belongs with James' whispered Kentucky BGV's (and the occasional face-melter). Both find there home behind Oberst's astutely melodramatic lyricism. Think a contemporary Traveling Wilbury's for the NPR-listening, "freak-folk" enthusiast: informed and laid back. Don't let the name mislead, though a "compilation" of sorts, The Monsters of Folk turn in a relaxed but solid, cohesive bit of folk-artistry, rather than a late-night infomercial selling a Rhino-record's hair metal song collection.

If you liked Ward's Hold Time, or the most recent couple from Bright Eyes, jump on this, not to be missed!

Track listing:
1. “Dear God (sincerely M.O.F.)”
2. “Say Please”
3. “Whole Lotta Losin’”
4. “Temazcal”
5. “The Right Place”
6. “Baby Boomer”
7. “Man Named Truth”
8. “Goodway”
9. “Ahead of the Curve”
10. “Slow Down Jo”
11. “Losin Yo Head”
12. “Magic Marker”
13. “Map Of The World”
14. “The Sandman, the Brakeman and Me”
15. “His Master’s Voice”

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