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#19: Monsters of Folk – Monsters of Folk

December 17, 2009

Rarely do I purchase albums on the strength of the single.  I picked Monsters of Folk‘s self-titled album at Target the other day off the strength of hearing them perform the track “Say Please” on Conan O’Brien’s show. Other than that song, I really didn’t know what to expect from the album. I’m not really familiar with M. Ward’s music, nor am I particularly familiar with anything from Jim James’ My Morning Jacket. Aside from a couple singles, I haven’t heard anything from the combination of Oberst and Mogis (Bright Eyes) since 2000’s Fevers and Mirrors.

This is an incredibly solid and enjoyable album. I didn’t really know what to expect going in, but after repeated listening I’ve determined that this album holds a unique spot in my CD collection. Bordering on a line somewhere between indie rock and country, Monsters of Folk have brought a sound that is as equally comfortable in Bakersfield as it would be in Portland. I think that really summarizes what I’ve enjoyed the most about the album. Tracks like “The Right Place” and “Baby Boomer” hearken back to a 1960s country sound without being corny, while “Whole Lotta Losin'” and “Losin’ Yo Head” bring an alternative rock sound that is simultaneously rustic and modern.

While the album as a whole doesn’t really do anything risky or mind-blowing, it maintains a solid pace and doesn’t have any songs that feel like filler. Because of this, the album retains some widespread appeal, yet sits comfortably in its indie folk/rock box. The aspect of the album I appreciated most was the old country vibe that permeates so many of the tracks. If you’re a fan of M. Ward, My Morning Jacket or Bright Eyes, or are looking for something that’s both fresh and familiar sounding, I would definitely check this out. I picked my copy up at Target. I’m sure it’s available in stores all over and on iTunes if you swing that way.

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