Monsters of Folk - Monsters of Folk

2009-10-05 | |

I've never actually considered Conor Oberst to be a folky kind of guy; neither have I thought that about M. Ward, or Mike Mogis. Even Jim James, of My Morning Jacket, is far from folk. But, still, it's just a name, right guys? Right? I'm going in with an open mind, mainly because I always get prejudiced around any of Oberst's non-Bright Eyes projects: Desaparecidos is probably the closest I've come to liking an Oberst side-project. So, on with the show!

Despite the dodgy cover-art which makes Mike Mogis look very much like "Tony Robinson as Baldrick" from Blackadder fame, Monsters of Folk, the album, not the band, has left me reeling. In a good way.

The opening track, "Dear God (M.O.F.)" made me question the name 'Monsters of Folk', because, it was total false advertising. Then, just as I was set on saying "Screw this. It's going to be terrible," everything changed. It was like listening to a certain supergroup which came around 20 years ago; in fact, the entirety of the M.O.F. trademark seems to mirror the way in which said late 80s supergroup was. I am, of course, referring to the Traveling Wilburys.

This album has all the elements of a half-decent folk release, but, throws in moments of pure country rock folly. I can't quite put my finger on it, but, it's probably the bonhomie of each of the members which is shining through, and which makes me feel at ease with this. It's like that one-off conversation shared with Mike Mogis at a Bright Eyes gig; it's something special.

Under the twang of the guitar, and the awkward, strained vocals of Oberst, lies a niggling feeling that this is all for show; that, this is just to give Oberst and Mogis some time off from the Bright Eyes label, and yet still put out something in the vein of Cassadaga, with that homely, Cracker Barrel soundtrack. There's honestly nothing more to this album than good old fashioned 'grits and biscuits' Folk. And that's why I like it.

Overall: 8/10 - It's a supergroup alright. It's also a super album. All it needs is Nick Cave talking over Man Named Truth, and I'd give it a 9.

Top Track: Baby Boomer

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