There’s a warmth in the sad, measured gallop of “Thieves,” the first song off of She & Him’s Volume Two, and it’s undeniably charming. The final swell of amber guitars, strings and voice beams straight to the chest, lights it up like a summer sunset.
But She (actress Zooey Deschanel) and Him (folkster M. Ward) stubbornly park their feel-good cabooses in that light for the duration of the record, and it’s not long till the sunset loses its magic. After another 40 minutes without relief, the sunset is just boring. Too much milk and honey.
Thank Ms. Deschanel, Volume Two’s resolute playwright and inescapable host. Her face, framed in gently arranged bangs and big Bambi eyes, is familiar – the actress starred in “500 Days of Summer,” “Yes Man,” and a television commercial for cotton, of all things.
Volume Two feeds on this puppy-dog routine. One imagines Ms. Deschanel in a perpetual curtsy during these recording sessions. Most every song revels in ‘60s-inflected baroque pop, all of them written for the whir of bicycle spokes in the summery montage of another twee film about two irresistibly whimsical white people.
After three-and-a-half songs of Ms. Deschanel, center stage, in waltzes M. Ward, his voice a watery BBQ sauce (organic and reduced-calorie, naturally), only to retreat backstage for the entire second act. The arrangements, though, are undeniably his: hear those feathery snare drums and polite lap steels, nestled snugly in a bed of charming doo-wop harmonies? Have you yet enjoyed the sound of ‘cute’?
You have now, and you’d better like it, buddy, because this is the Zooey Deschanel Hour, and your radio dial is stuck on this godforsaken AM frequency for a long, long 13 songs.
“I had some brand new shoes, they were all red but they gave me the blues,” she whispers near Volume Two’s end. This, of course, is the part of the story when, after being wronged by her man, she wonders whether she can forgive him.
Somehow, some way, she does, and it all turns out peaches, just as everyone suspected it would. “I didn’t mean to,” a chorus of Zooeys sings sweetly in “Over It Over Again,” fooling no one.
I shared with you all a couple of weeks ago about a new album that I was excited about called Monsters of Folk. For those of you that are interested in this supergroup, made up of Jim James of My Morning Jacket, Conor Oberst and Mike Mogis of Bright Eyes, and M. Ward, you will be excited to know that they are giving away one of the songs off of their new album for free. And they have announced a series of fall tour dates. Oddly enough I’d say that the song is pretty good mixture of each of their individual musical stylings. I’m not hooked yet, but I’m definitely intrigued. But you can decide for yourself.
MONSTERS OF FOLK FALL TOUR DATES
13 Vancouver, BC- Orpheum
14 Portland, OR- Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall
15 Seattle, WA- Paramount Theatre
17 Oakland, CA- Fox Theater
18 Los Angeles, CA- The Greek Theater
20 San Diego, CA- Spreckels Theatre
21 Phoenix, AZ- Orpheum Theater
22 Santa Barbara, CA- Santa Barbara Bowl
28 Omaha, NE- Holland Center
29 Minneapolis, MN- Orpheum Theatre
30 Chicago, IL- Auditorium Theatre
31 Louisville, KY- Louisville Palace Theatre
02 Toronto, ON- Massey Hall
03 Boston, MA- The Orpheum
06 New York, NY- United Palace
08 New York, NY- Beacon Theater
09 Philadelphia, PA- Academy of Music
12 Stockholm- Philadelphia Church
14 Berlin- Huxleys Neue Welt
15 Copenhagen- Vega
17 London- Troxy
18 Paris- Elysee Montmartre
19 Koln- E-Werk
21 The Hague- Crossing Border
22 Antwerp- Crossing Border
It has finally been confirmed that the one time tour mates that called themselves the “Monsters of Folk” have recorded an album. This indie-rock supergroup is made up of M. Ward, Jim James (My Morning Jacket), Conor Oberst, and Mike Mogis (Bright Eyes producer). Talk of this album has been floating around the blogosphere ever since they first went on tour together in ’04. It is great to finally receive news that this record is actually complete. The self-titled debut is set to be released 9/22 via Shangri-La. According to the press release, these four guys will be playing all the instruments on the record. Here are a few tunes for those of you who are foolish enough to think that these guys don’t make folk music. I am so stinkin’ excited for this record.