I've written about the supergroup phenomenon before. About how the sum of all those parts rarely ends up as great in reality as it does in theory, but there are those rare occasions in which a supergroup is actually super. Monsters Of Folk may just be one of those super supergoups. I make this assumption based on the band's stellar lineup--Jim James, Conor Oberst, Mike Mogus, and M. Ward--and by what I've heard so far. Take a listen and/or download "Say Please," courtesy of RCRD LBL, and see if you agree.
Although Monsters Of Folk's self-titled effort isn't out until Sept. 22, the collective actually starting playing together five years ago on a tour billed as An Evening With: Bright Eyes, Jim James and M. Ward. For the uninitiated, Bright Eyes is the pseudonym/band name that indie folk-rock wunderkind Conor Oberst recorded under from the late '90s until 2007, when he began issuing titles under his own name. Mogus, the lowest profile of the foursome, was also a member of Bright Eyes. James fronts rocking-soul band My Morning Jacket, and Ward is known for his own solo work as well as his role as half of She & Him alongside singer/actress Zooey Daschanel.
Here's a clip of the foursome performing together on the stage of Austin City Limits. Don't let Oberst's tongue-and-cheek introduction fool you. The song performed is not an original that he, Ward, and James cooked up. It's Bob Dylan's classic "Girl From The North Country."
Thus far, the Monsters Of Folk have only released three tracks via iTunes. "Say Please," which is posted above, as well as "Dear God (Sincerely M.O.F.)," which has James showcasing his soul-brother falsetto up against warm Ward's baritone in a recording that's already garnered well-deserved comparisons to Marvin Gaye's classic "What's Going On." The third track, "The Sandman, The Brakeman And Me" is the sort of classic folk that you'd expect from a band whose members have the chutzpah/sense of humor to proclaim themselves Monsters of the genre.
Judging by the size of the venues the Monsters are booked to play on their recently announced tour--which kicks off Oct. 13 at the Orpheum in Vancouver, B.C. and includes stops at the Greek Theatre in Los Angeles on Oct. 18, and the Beacon Theater in New York on Nov. 8--there's already plenty of interest in MOF. Expect the band to focus on the material from their self-titled debut, but don't be surprised if they throw in some choice covers and some selections for their work apart from the Monsters. For a taste, check out this clip of the foursome performing My Morning Jacket's "Golden." The title of that song says it all.