When Conor Oberst (Bright Eyes), Jim James (My Morning Jacket) and M. Ward (She & Him) toured together back in 2004, someone in the road crew jokingly dubbed the lineup "The Monsters of Folk." While the name was meant to be tongue-in-cheek, the idea that something so powerful could come from such a quiet genre kind of fits the project. Like an indie rock version of The Traveling Wilburys, Monsters of Folk is the melding of serious singer-songwriters (and multi-instrumentalist Mike Mogis,) who together sound like they're having the time of their life. The band shrugs off the Wilburys as a predecessor, though, preferring Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, if a comparison is to be made.
To promote their self-titled debut, out this week, the 'ubergroup' will make an appearance on The Tonight Show with Conan O'Brien, performing the lead single, "Say Please" on Tuesday night. The song is a perfect choice, as it has Oberst, James and Ward trading vocal leads and harmonizing on the sunny chorus, much like a certain Traveling Wilburys* hit, "Handle With Care."
*Want more Wilburys parallels? How about the "young Bob Dylan" tag that Oberst got early in his career? Or the soothing Roy Orbison-like falsetto from James? Or how about the quiet cool, ala George Harrison, and behind-the-scenes production wizardry from M. Ward that rivals Jeff Lynne during his busiest years? If Jeff Tweedy would've been involved, it would be complete, filling in the Tom Petty role, quite nicely.
Elsewhere, Lynyrd Skynyrd (the band that can't be killed), soldiers on after a rough year, losing two more of the band's key members -- co-founder and keyboardist Billy Powell and longtime bassist Ean Evan both passed away earlier this year. Before passing, both contributed to the band's first album in six year, Gods & Guns, whose release (September 29) they promote on Conan Monday night. Likewise, Living Colour have released their first album in six years as well, The Chair in the Door. They take their face-melting guitar work, courtesy of Vernon Reid, to the stage on Fallon, which was probably an easy booking for The Roots to sell.
Finally, U2 is the musical guest for the season premiere of Saturday Night Live. By now it's expected that the megastars would play three songs, but given that it's a premiere night and there's the spectacle of Megan Fox hosting, might that be time wasted? May I suggest a sketch involving Fox in her underwear, face bloodied like her character from Jennifer's Body, dancing to "Sunday Bloody Sunday?" You know the saying, two great tastes.
Playlist: Picks for the week
Monday, September 21
ABC: Jimmy Kimmel Live: Matt & Kim (REPEAT)
CBS: Late Late Show With Craig Ferguson: Black Joe Lewis & the Honeybears
NBC: The Tonight Show with Conan O'Brien: Lynyrd Skynyrd
NBC: Late Night With Jimmy Fallon: Living Colour
NBC: Last Call With Carson Daly: Franz Ferdinand (REPEAT)
SYNDICATION: Live With Regis and Kelly: David Gray
Tuesday, September 22
ABC: Jimmy Kimmel Live: Kid Cudi
NBC: The Tonight Show with Conan O'Brien: Monsters of Folk
NBC: Last Call With Carson Daly: Mat Kierney
Wednesday, September 23
CBS: Late Show With David Letterman: Mary J. Blige
CBS: Late Late Show With Craig Ferguson: Arctic Monkeys
NBC: Last Call With Carson Daly: Amazing Baby
Thursday, September 24
CBS: Late Show With David Letterman: Snow Patrol
NBC: The Jay Leno Show: Smokey Robinson with Joss Stone
NBC: Late Night With Jimmy Fallon: Phoenix
NBC: Last Call With Carson Daly: Paolo Nutini
SYNDICATION: The Ellen Degeneres Show: Noisettes
Friday, September 25
NBC: The Tonight Show with Conan O'Brien: Rodrig y Gabriela
Saturday, September 26
NBC: Saturday Night Live: U2