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Collector's Corner: Monsters of Folk - 'Monsters of Folk' 15-Year Anniversary Edition

(Photo Credit: Michael La Torre)

Last Friday, ATO Records dropped the 15-Year Anniversary Edition of Monsters of Folk's self-titled album! Monsters of Folk were an acclaimed supergroup featuring Jim James (My Morning Jacket), M. Ward (She & Him), Conor Oberst, and Mike Mogis (Bright Eyes) respectively. For the Anniversary Edition, they have been joined by Will Johnson of Centro-Matic for five bonus tracks that did not appear on the original release!

Around twenty years ago, the members of the group began to meet up and jam. They were referred to as "Monsters of Folk" by their road crew members and the name stuck. They assembled later and created their limitless 2009 self-titled album featuring the members of the group swapping instruments and vocals at the drop of a hat. This was a practice they kept up on stage as they would perform for fortunate concertgoers. They developed an uncommon sense of comradery that doesn't usually happen in playing music with unfamiliar partners. But it worked! And the rest they say is history.

Until 2024, when the band announced they were bringing back a deluxe anniversary edition of the classic album they released previously. The album features five additional unreleased tracks that were originally recorded in 2012 with Will Johnson of Centro-Matic. Let's get into the looks of this thing first. The album is printed on a beautiful matte stock with the original image of the four core members updated to be colorized with pink, purple, and green. The back features the four core members and Johnson of Centro-Matic in the same color scheme in an image that is credited to Kyle Johnson. The back cover features a track list at the bottom as well for the listener.

Inside there is a monstrous poster of the band, which we have only shown you a slight portion of (we wanted to save something for you to be surprised by!). The record is a double-LP, released on a beautiful clear vinyl. On each side of the vinyl, you'll find the track listing alongside the band's name.

Now the music! This album has always been a favorite of mine, as I am a die-hard My Morning Jacket fan. I was actually informed of them by my daughter, who didn't know they were a supergroup. It was a pretty cool discovery for us both. I love how effortlessly the members shift instrumentation and vocals. Though on it's face, one would initially wonder how James' and Oberst's vocals would work together, they do so magnificently. The group harmonies on this album are unlike anything you will hear in music today. It reminds me of the harmonies by The Eagles, not the highs per se, but just the way the meld together. And they do it in different ways from one song to another, for example, they take on higher keys in the James-led "Dear God (Sincerely M.O.F.)" and they do more mild harmonies on the Oberst feature "Say Please". Together the band is able to achieve an awesome sound that is both timeless and current.

So is this one worth the price of admission? I will say vehemently 1,000 times yes! You get unmatched musicianship and second-to-none vocal performances from all involved. While original pressings of this record go for a decent chunk of change, I am perfectly happy adding this edition to my collection and getting the additional five tracks for my money. This is one you're certainly not going to want to miss!

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