Monsters of Folk Release Reissue of Self-Titled Debut Today with 5 Unreleased Songs

Article Contributed by Big Hassle Media | Published on Sunday, June 16, 2024

Monsters of Folk – the acclaimed band comprised of Jim James (My Morning Jacket), M. Ward, Conor Oberst, and Mike Mogis (Bright Eyes) – have released the reissue of their highly acclaimed self-titled debut via ATO Records. The expanded, 15th-anniversary edition of their one-and-only album is out today on clear vinyl and digital download. A number of multi-colored vinyl options are also available now exclusively via Barnes & Noble, Vinyl Me Please, and Rough Trade. First released in 2009, Monsters of Folk now sees the original 15-song album joined by five additional studio tracks from a previously unreleased 2012 session featuring “Fifth Monster” Will Johnson (Centro-matic), including the moody folk epic "Museum Guard."



Photo Credit: Kyle Johnso

Twenty years ago, My Morning Jacket’s Jim James, M. Ward, and Bright Eyes’ Conor Oberst and Mike Mogis came together for a revue-style tour that found the four musicians quickly developing a rarefied camaraderie. Taking their moniker from a tongue-in-cheek nickname bestowed by the tour’s road crew, the so-called Monsters of Folk reconvened a half-decade later and set to work on a self-titled debut album that alchemized their distinct sensibilities into 15 idiosyncratic yet strangely timeless songs, redefining the context of the supergroup while fully devoting themselves to the singular magic of creating without constraint.

Making this album brought me back to the same feelings I had when I first started a band, or first started playing music in general – there’s a real simplicity and excitement to playing with folks you don’t normally play with,” says Jim James. “The spirit of play is alive on this whole thing.”

Debut records have a freedom that can’t be matched, because there’s no history to work from,” says M. Ward. “I just hear the four of us following wherever the songs seem to be leading us.”

Mainly produced by producer/engineer/multi-instrumentalist Mogis, Monsters of Folk came to life over a series of sessions at the historic Malibu studio Shangri-La and at Mogis’ own Omaha Another Recording Company in Omaha, NE. Apart from ruling out the use of outside musicians (and handling all instrumentation on their own), the band embraced a free-flowing process that often hinged on encouraging each other to push into entirely new musical terrain. When matched with each member’s finely honed musicianship, that communal sense of creative abandon led to a lineup of songs that shift from country to pop to psych-rock with equal parts untamed imagination and ineffable ease. Fueled in part by the singles “Say Please” and “Dear God (Sincerely M.O.F.),” Monsters of Folk proved both a worldwide critical favorite as well as a popular sensation, reaching #15 on the overall Billboard 200 upon its 2009 release while also peaking among the top 10 on five additional album charts.

Arriving in time for the album’s 15th anniversary, ATO’s Monsters of Folk reissue features an additional batch of songs recorded in 2012 alongside Will Johnson of Centro-matic. Those five tracks – which include “Disappeared” and the moody folk epic, “Museum Guard” – were initially meant to accompany a dystopic sci-fi film based on a screenplay penned by Oberst, a project that was eventually shelved. Looking back on album’s creation, all of the Monsters describe themselves as indelibly elevated by what Ward refers to his bandmates’ “superpowers.”

It was amazing to have a ringside seat for the way Jim and M make records,” says Conor Oberst. “Jim’s outside-the-box knack for soul and harmony and M’s sense of space and songcraft were so inspiring and invaluable to me then, and continue to be to this day.”

“I feel like it really expanded my way of thinking about music, and my thinking in general,” James says. “It was so special to create with artists that I respect so much—to come into the project from a place of already loving so many of their songs and their outlook on the world, and then feel the whole experience opening me up to life in such a fresh and beautiful way.”



(ATO Records)


1. Dear God (Sincerely M.O.F.)

2. Say Please

3. Whole Lotta Losin’

4. Temazcal

5. The Right Place

6. Baby Boomer

7. Man Named Truth

8. Goodway

9. Ahead Of The Curve

10. Slow Down Jo

11. Losin Yo Head

12. Magic Marker

13. Map Of The World

14. The Sandman, The Brakeman And Me

15. His Master’s Voice

16. Dear to the Assassin *

17. Sweet Silence *

18. The Living Thing *

19. Museum Guard *

20. Disappeared *