I forgot to add to the catch up reviews one album review and one show review, but since both are Super groups, I will devote a new post to them.
Monsters of Folk - Traveling Wilburies blah blah blah... ok beyond that comparison, Monsters of Folk have put together one of the most interesting albums of the year. M Ward, Conner Oberst, Jim James and Mike Mogis are the four headed monster but what is intriguing is the lack of straightforward folk music the album actually has. This isn't to say that is a bad thing, in fact it's welcomed. Jim James clearly shines on the tracks he masterminded. "Dear God (Sincerely M.O.F.)" is the furthest from folk on the album with it's drum machine sample, harps and strings and falsetto love groove vocals careening into the three contemplative versus from the three main voices of the bunch. Popier tracks like "Say Please" and "Goodway" are campground sing-a-longs that are best accompanied by friends. One of the highlights comes straight out of the Jeff Lyne/Roy Orbison songbook. The track "Whole Lotta Losin'" has M. Ward crooning over a funky struming guitar and a most infectious hook. Somber moments ushc as "Slow Down Jo" and "The Sandman, The Brakeman and Me" may be the folkiest and their riff on "Battle of Evermore" style Zeppelin comes forth on the epic Oberst penned "A Man Named Truth." Overall, the album has a disjointed feel but each song in random order or just plucked from the disc is delightful enough. It's hard when a huge collective effort comes together. The band may not be cohesive as a band as much as elements coming together and their own voices shining through more on different moments, but it's definitely a refreshing one off album.
Them Crooked Vultures - The other side of the super group coin comes in the three headed beast of Them Crooked Vultures. Their debut record has yet to drop, but thanks to a live tour I have a pretty damn good idea of how this will play out. Josh Homme takes lead guitar and vocals, Dave Grohl smashes his drum set to death and John Paul Jones looked cool, calm and collected doing various roles in bass, piano, keytar and mandolin. From what I remember at the show, their were ferocious riffs, fantastic guitar solos and bone crushing ryhthm that was even more intense than one would gather Grohl and JPJ would bring to the table. The first song of the night "Elephants" came out like gangbusters and did not hold back over the course of it's rocking. With several defining parts including some groovy breakdowns, it's definitely one of the best. "Gunman" stood out as one of the best rock churners. The final rocking epic "Warsaw or The First Breath You Take After You Give Up" which blistered on for what seemed to be a good 10 minutes was chock full of different rock landscapes and movements. "New Fang" is your standard radio rocker and "Caligulove" is a crooner love anthem with a heavy twist. Needless to say, I'm not sure the world is ready for the rock beat that is going to be unleashed soon. I know I'm anticipating it big time, but even that anticipation is not prepared for the studio version of what was easily one of the most mind numbing concert events of the year. Can't wait.