Monsters of Folk: Unoriginal?

I got my copy of Paste Magazine in the mail today. It’s always a treat, mostly because of the CD sampler they always send along that, month after month, features awesome music.

What caught my eye this time though (aside from the bevy of “best of the decade” lists in the mag) was a simple letter to the editor. In it, an astute reader points out that the foursome of Ramblin’ Jack Elliott, Dave Alvin, Tom Russell and Chris Smither put out an album and toured under the name Monsters of Folk in 1998.

That’s a full 11 years before Conor Oberst and Mike Mogis of Bright Eyes, Jim James of My Morning Jacket and M. Ward of She & Him (as well as his own solo career) used the name on its album this year.

Here’s a Rolling Stone article about the original folks from ’98.

There doesn’t seem to be any controversy, aside from the Paste letter to the editor and, to my knowledge, no one is getting sued or anything. It’s nonetheless interesting.

Was the name used before? It certainly appears so. Does it really matter? I don’t think so. You could call the Oberst-Ward-Mogis-James combo Bright Morning Jacket & Him and I still would like the songs on it.

Oddly enough, the foursome themselves make fun of their own name in a previously-published Paste Q&A:

Oberst: Really, when you think about it, band names are so ridiculous. I mean, I can’t think of a good band name.
Ward: I like Led Zeppelin. That’s the only good band name.

* * *

Speaking of the Paste sampler, mentioned above, three Omaha-related tracks made it on the disc (a first as far as I know).

First is “Dear God (Sincerely M.O.F.)” from the Monsters of Folk. This isn’t much of a surprise to me, considering the MoF have been getting lots of write-ups and praise all over the place.

Second is “The Sound” by Miles Benjamin Anthony Robinson from his impeccable release on Saddle Creek Records. He’s not from O-town, but SC is, so it counts, right?

Third is “Ari Are We” from Capgun Coup off of the Omaha group’s recently-released disc “Maudlin.” This is pretty wide exposure for a band that still feels like a local band. What I mean there is that while their record is out on Team Love, they still feel like the local group playing local venues and house parties at Hotel Frank. Probably what Cursive seemed like 10 years ago.

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