Amalgamated Sons of Rest

Band: Amalgamated Sons of Rest
Album: Amalgamated Sons of Rest
Best song: My Molina bias has me saying “Jennie Blackbird’s Blues” is the best song on the record.
Worst song: The hidden track, “I Will Be Good” isn’t much.

The entire notion of a “supergroup” is a little dated and silly. Admittedly, it happens a fair amount and the results are rarely completely terrible — the first Raconteurs record is, really, quite amazing. Indie rock doesn’t have superstars to occupy said supergroups, so, for example, The Sea and Cake wouldn’t be considered such a group. It’s just a band with a dude form Tortoise and Archer Prewitt and such. Were these more mainstream artists, it would probably be a supergroup.

Nevertheless, the S word was thrown around when the Amalgamated Sons of Rest got together to record the one-off album of traditional folk songs and new material. The combination of Ali “Appendix Out” Roberts, Jason “Songs:Ohia/Magnolia Electric Company” Molina and Will “Palace Bros./Palace Music/Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy/that one Jackass movie/about 50 other things” Oldham makes for a good record, no question.

But, it brings up the simple question of chemistry/stylistic similarlities. Oldham, Roberts and Molina don’t do wildly different things in their own projects, so the Amalgamated Sons of Rest record isn’t surprising at all. In fact, it’s lovely in the sense of a folk record; each guy does lead vocals on one track and contributes to the all-hands-on-deck songs like “Major March” (a beautiful Oldham-penned track).

Nevertheless, outside of the collaborative songs, the tracks are what you’d expect. That’s not bad, per se. I enjoy all three of these artists and I specifically adore Molina’s brand of stark songwriting/vocalization of dread. But, it’s not anyhting exciting. “Jenny Blackbird’s Blues,” for example, is a wonderful Songs:Ohia-type song. The minimal drum/piano combination echoes Molina’s defeatist lyrics perfectly. Similarly, Roberts’ take on the traditional Celtic “Maa Bonny Lad” is perfectly Appendix Out-y, with a more optimistic tone than say, Molina’s contributions, but not as obtuse as Oldham’s usual bluster (as is his reading of whaling folk song “My Donal”).

But, the music makes sense together, so there is little in the way of surprises. Which is to say it’s way less exciting — but far better — than the Loutallica thing, which sucks hard.

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