Monsters of Folk – comprised of Bright Eyes’ Conor Oberst and Mike Mogis, My Morning Jacket’s Jim James and singer/songwriter M.Ward – will be releasing their first collaborative album on September 22nd. The self-titled effort was recorded in Malibu, CA and Omaha, NE, and produced by Mike Mogis. Although these critically acclaimed artists have shared the stage before, this album marks their first recorded output as a band.
Monsters of Folk began as folklore of sorts, when James, Oberst, Ward and Mogis did their first run of shows together in 2004. Like the musical revue shows that went town to town when rock ‘n’ roll was newly born, the tour was called “An Evening With: Bright Eyes, Jim James and M. Ward,” although amongst friends and crew, it became affectionately known as the “Monsters of Folk Tour.” While entertaining audiences coast to coast with gorgeous acoustic melodies and world-weary tales, the foursome vowed to make their way to a studio at some point after the tour’s completion. Instead, the songsmiths went on to individually release some of rock music’s most exciting and essential albums of the last five years – Bright Eyes’ I’m Wide Awake, It’s Morning & Cassadaga; My Morning Jacket’s Z & Evil Urges; M. Ward’s Post War and Hold Time. Never ones to forget their promise, when downtime presented itself, they convened in the studio multiple times over two years, with Mogis at the helm of their first recorded effort. The result is as stunning and storied as you would expect it to be.
All four members play every instrument on the album, supplying everything from drum kills to cascading backing vocals. The songs – some road-worn fables, some intimate and intricate with electronic elements, some woozy and sun-soaked – are everything one expects from these four musical minds collaborating together. The album exudes a warm, organic spaciousness, filled by brilliant choruses, intoxicating harmonies and effortless melodies, as each member brings his own strengths to the table to create one perfect whole.