Filed under: Releases of the Week | Tags: album reviews, Bright Eyes, Conor Oberst, Jim James, M. Ward, Mike Mogis, Monsters of Folk, My Morning Jacket, Releases of the Week, Yim Yames
PREVIEW: DOWNLOAD Monsters of Folk’s “Magic Marker”
WE GIVE IT: 16/20 Watts
In an environment where album release dates are constantly postponed, music is fluffed up with unnecessary clutter and money-making schemes clog releases, it is novel to see noted musicians getting together to not only produce a worthwhile album, but one that exceeds expectations. Yet, that is precisely what Monsters of Folk, a.k.a. Jim James (Yim Yames) of My Morning Jacket, Conor Oberst and Mike Mogis of Bright Eyes and M. Ward have done with their debut under the moniker.
Monsters of Folk’s self-titled release drops September 22, 2009. While the album was initially slated for release in 2010, this hardworking foursome cranked it out before 2009 ended.
It’s the most brilliant piece of audio you would ever expect from this arrangement of musical geniuses. All of the tracks are deliciously lush and soulful. And all carry individual signatures of each artist: Oberst’s incomparable vocals paired with James’s folk tones, M. Ward’s cheeky vintage tunes and Mogis’ quirky instrumentals.
The range of sound is spectacular. The album has so many different angles, it takes more than just one listen to comprehend it in its entirety. There is an equal contribution from each artist, an equal dose of each one’s strengths. The acoustics encompass everything from synth-electro sounds, to mellow guitar riffs. The collection is that it sounds tremendously organic. Nothing about it is forced or unnecessary. There are no space fillers. While every note is thoughtful, none are over-analyzed.
But the artists’ perfect harmony is what’s most surprising about Monsters of Folk. On “Magic Marker,” arguably one of the best tracks on the release, the three lead voices from Ward, James and Oberst blend in unison. The melody is calm, acoustics are perfectly shimmery and the lyrics are nostalgic. “Just because its not accepted doesn’t mean it’s not alright,” the vocalists sing about the exceptionality of ordinary things.
Give it a listen on chilly evening, and it will completely change your perspective.
— Irina Dvalidze