Take one part My Morning Jacket, add one part She & Him and two parts Bright Eyes, and the result is a pristine supergroup incorporating four exceptional artists that define the current indie-folk generation appropriately titled Monsters of Folk. Though not strangers to the Austin City Limits stage separately, tonight they make their onstage debut under this moniker performing songs from their self-titled debut album.
Monster of Folk incorporates prolific musicians Conor Oberst, the songwriter and driving force behind Bright Eyes, who defined the Omaha sound with his shivering vocals and melodic folk tracks as he became hailed to be “the next Dylan,” Jim James, falsetto-driven frontman of reverb-drenched alt-country group My Morning Jacket; M. Ward, American country-folk solo artist and half of the indie-pop duo She & Him; and producer/multi-instrumentalist Mike Mogis, frequent Oberst collaborator and Bright Eyes mainstay.
The quartet started playing together in 2004 for a slew of shows in the Northeast under the moniker “An Evening With: Bright Eyes, Jim James and M. Ward” but didn’t wrap up their debut album in the midst of touring with respective projects. “It was never a question of where or how – it was just when,” says Ward of Monsters of Folk’s studio debut. “We knew we wanted to record an album after seeing that we had good chemistry on tour.”
Their 2009 eponymous self-titled debut has been described as “a stunning record — cohesive and consistent and ambitious for how much ground it covers” [Esquire] and a “harmonious and occasionally electrified blend of folk-rock, country and white soul” [USA Today].
The band is off to auspicious start, with early hits off of their new album including the dreamy “Dear God (Sincerely M.O.F.),” and the feel-good “Say Please.”