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Conor Oberst

Conor Oberst


Conor Oberst

For the first time since he was 15, when he started recording as Bright Eyes, Conor Oberst has released an album under his given name. The switch has caused people to search for a seismic shift in the music, but it's just not there. Oberst has chalked up the alternate title to a very practical development: Mike Mogis, the multi-instrumentalist, producer, and, along with composter/keyboardist Nate Walcott, the only other permanent member of Bright Eyes, had no hand in this one. Hence, solo.


The results are decidedly restrained. Oberst is a prolific and abundantly talented songwriter, and to say these feel like songs he could have written in his sleep is in no way meant as a criticism. Trap the young man in a bare room with a guitar and a tape recorder for a week and chances are you wouldn't be disappointed with the results. Which isn't a vast departure from the process of this album: Oberst and a gaggle of buds, collectively known as the Mystic Valley Band, set up shop in a small villa in Cuernavaca, Mexico, recording as the will came.


The result is a confident, tight batch of tracks that beautifully encompass a prosaic kind of ache. The wistful opening track, "Cape Canaveral" -- a delicately picked guitar and Oberst's yearning voice -- nails the album's underlining quiet determination. "You taught me victory's sweet even deep in the cheap seats," Oberst unemotionally declares. "Danny Callahan," the sort-of true tale of a young cancer patient, suggests that vague helplessness that comes from being witness to other people's tragedies. "Milk Thistle," gorgeous and fragile, is a nod to a daily, shoulder shrug bravery: "I'm not scared of nothing/ I'll go pound for pound/ I keep death on my mind like a heavy crown."


The post-Lifted... meme was the clumsy parallel of Oberst as Young Dylan, and a cautiously optimistic press horde waited to see what the kid would do with the expectations. He flirted with a tipping point: the dual release of Digital Ash in a Digital Urn and I'm Wide Awake It's Morning, the Tonight Show performance of "When the President Talks to God." But there was no grand swipe at a masterpiece. Perhaps Oberst still has designs on a statement album, and is tiding us over with works like these -- full of eyes-wide-open melancholia and casual, reckless optimism. If that's so, we couldn't care less if that statement album ever comes.



Band: http://www.conoroberst.com

Label: http://www.mergerecords.com

Audio: http://www.myspace.com/brighteyes

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<br/><p class="MsoNormal"><st1:PersonName><span >John</span></st1:PersonName><b ><span > </span></b><span >is 26<br/>and lives in </span><st1:City><st1:place><span >Los Angeles.</span></st1:place></st1:City><span > He teaches high school social<br/>studies, as he's done since graduating </span><st1:place><st1:PlaceName><span >Tulane</span></st1:PlaceName><span > </span><st1:PlaceType><span >University</span></st1:PlaceType></st1:place><span > in </span><st1:City><st1:place><span >New Orleans</span></st1:place></st1:City><span >. Through writing and editing for<br/>the arts and entertainment section of the student newspaper and deejaying for<br/>the radio station, he fell in love with indie rock.<o:p> <br/></o:p></span></p><p class="MsoNormal"><span >John was<br/>married in June to his beautiful wife, Marisa. She's finishing her masters degree<br/>at </span><st1:place><st1:PlaceType><span >University</span></st1:PlaceType><span > of </span><st1:PlaceName><span >Southern California</span></st1:PlaceName></st1:place><span > and has helped steep John in<br/>Pavement's back catalog and the allure of early Liz Phair records.<br/></span></p><span ><o:p> </o:p>After some<br/>misgivings about the metropolis, John loves living in L.A., for being able to<br/>find food from around the world on every block, for its improving mass-transit<br/>options and, of course, for so many concerts to see that it could drive him broke.<br/>John's an aspiring writer, but of fiction, not of screenplays.</span><span ><o:p><br/></o:p></span><span >John and<br/>Marisa have one dog, a chow mix named </span><st1:City><st1:place><span >Halle</span></st1:place></st1:City><span >; and two cats, an ocecat named<br/>Gigi and an orange tabby named Malkmus.</span><br/>