Several years ago — I think around 2004 or 2005 — I caught a show in Seattle that I figured was a once-in-a-lifetime thing. Conor Oberst (of Bright Eyes), Jim James (of My Morning Jacket), M. Ward (solo artist and She & Him), and Mike Mogis (who played on and helped produce records from all the above) were touring together, on hiatus from their respective day jobs. They each played on the others’ songs and did a few covers, jokingly calling themselves “Monsters of Folk.” It remains one of the more spontaneous, delightful shows I’ve ever seen.
(You young whippersnappers may not get the reference. Monsters of Rock was an annual music festival, but is particularly known for for an epic 1991 show in front of 1.6 million people at an airfield in Moscow, with Metallica, AC/DC, and Pantera. Those were the days!)
Most “super groups” disappoint, but these guys finally made the time to put out a self-titled album and it’s fantastic. I guess they join the ranks of the Traveling Wilburys and … that other good super group.
All of them have, in their own ways, spent the arc of their careers trying to transcend the genres they came up in, and the album shows the resulting diversity, though it’s united throughout by warm, beautiful vocal harmonies. The songwriting is top notch. It’s just good music. (See: NPR review.)
This song is called “Say Please.”