Sunday, November 29, 2009

Best Songs of 2009: Monsters of Folk "Temazcal"

For the last couple of years I've created a "Best of 200_" playlist on my iTunes and everytime I hear something really catchy, I copy it over to the playlist. More often then not, most of the songs on the playlist are great songs from my favourite albums of the year; other times, like today, they happen to be standout songs on albums that are marginal, not very good, or that I just haven't listened to all that much.

The Monsters of Folk (Bright Eyes, M. Ward, the guy from My Morning Jacket, and another guy) and their self-titled album, considering the pedigree of the group, is a little bit underwhelming. This, I think, probably has a considerable amount to do with the group having very little to prove. Every member of the group has had a pretty substantial amount of success (save perhaps for the mystery man), and while I'm sure getting together was fun, I'm not sure the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. You just don't get the sense that these guys were really pushing each other the way they might have, more that they sort of got together and wrote an album.

I guess what I mean to say is that the Monsters, collectively, don't really have a distinctive sound as a band. The songs on the album tend to rotate around, B.E. gets a song, MMJ's Jim James gets a song, and M. Ward gets a song and the others play Ringo (the other guy is Ringo the entire time). So, given my distaste and/or general lack of enthusiasm for the last couple outings of all the artist it should be unsurprising that I'm luke warm, at best, on the Monsters of Folk as a full-length, 15 song album.

Having said that (Curb reference!), I wouldn't have mentioned the album, particularly under the auspice of "Best of 20__" if there were no redeeming qualities here. And so: the one thing this album has done, IMHO, is brought out flashes of the coherent, but still sort of tortured, Bright Eyes. The best example of this, as you may have guessed, is on "Temazcal" the slow, strum and stop, song that makes you feel as though your in the middle of the denouement of an Old West love story. B.E. shows flashes of the lyricist that he was, and why early in his career people were calling him the next Dylan (probably not happening so much anymore), though that comparison, I think it goes without saying, was probably a little much to say the least.

The video (song sung by M. Ward):

[mp3] Monsters of Folk - Temazcal

I'm going to try and do one or a couple of these every week until the end of the year, though I'm not sure I'd hold your breath and wait for it to happen.

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