Album: Monsters of Folk, Monsters of Folk (Rough Trade)

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The Independent Culture

Obvious differences of scale prevent this alliance of American indie luminaries

Conor Oberst and Mike Mogis from Bright Eyes, Jim James from My Morning Jacket, and retro-style singer-guitarist M Ward – from being the modern equivalent of Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young. But the ironically named young "supergroup" nonetheless shares many characteristics with that earlier folk-rock era, not least the way the individual members' distinctive talents are grouted together with pleasing harmonies, the application of refurbished country touches of mandolin and pedal steel and the general protesting tone of retreat from life's discomfitures. "Baby Boomer" could even be a younger generation's "Teach Your Children", with its emphasis on standing "a little closer to the lessons we have learned", while the way "friends and heroes are packin' up and movin'" in Ward's "Whole Lotta Losin'" echoes the fin de siècle mood of Carole King's Tapestry. Stylistically too this is something of a late-Sixties throwback, from the Burrito-esque slide-guitar and tack piano of James's "The Right Place" to the late-period Beatles feel of "Say Please", one of several tracks which recall the way in which bands of that era sought refuge from the baroque excesses of psychedelia in the skiffle and rockabilly of their youth. A warmly enjoyable diversion.

Download this: Dear God, Say Please, Whole Lotta Losin', Baby Boomer, Ahead of the Curve