Today I received my copy of the new Bright Eyes record Cassadega in the mail 2 weeks early. I've given it one listen so far and I'm currently on my second. While I enjoyed the first listen when compared to his 2005 release I'm Wide Awake it's Morning I was a little disappointed. However I'm liking it a lot more with this second listen than I did initially. The theme of this entry will be one of those 10 year plus ones that I introduced a few entries back with Vashti Bunyan.
Normally you'd expect some variance in an artist's music over a period of ten years. You can expect the introduction of new instruments and influences, a different songwriting perspective, and perhaps a matured vocal style. However it's a rarer case where you hear a change in musical styling as a result of puberty. The song I'm posting was from Conor's 1994 album (when he was recording under his actual name) Here's To Special Treatment. He was 13 at the time of recording. The album was only released on cassette to a very limited amount. Copies nowadays go for hundreds and hundreds of dollars. I love the song, but I'm not sure why. Actually as of being introduced to Daniel Johnston recently, this song reminds me a lot of his style. There's simple yet sincere and assertive lyrics as well as the presence of an imaginary creature, in this case a lava monster. The line "And if the lava monster came- I would block his flame from hurting you" is something I love so much. I've drawn a picture that illustrated the scene with Conor holding a gigantic shield to deflect the fiery breath, saving the damsel curled up at his feet. I forget what happened to that picture though. Oh, right...it was in my Intro to Philosophy notebook. That's gone. Anyways, the song is a lot of fun.
Conor Oberst - Lave Monster
Cut to 13 years later. Conor now fronts one of the most popular indie-folk acts today, had dated Winona Ryder, performed on all the big late-night shows, recorded with Emmy Lou Harris and performed live with Neil Young, R.E.M, and Bruce Springsteen. Things have gone pretty well. "Make a Plan to Love Me" as of now is my favorite song off of the new record. With multiple female vocalists providing vocal harmonies and a driving string section it's a bit of a departure for Bright Eyes. A worthwhile one though as the song is very pretty. The second song I'm posting is from the Four Winds EP, the teaser to the album which features the title track (also on Cassadega) and 5 b-sides. The final track on it "Tourist Trap" is among my favorite Bright Eyes songs ever. It's quiet and sparse sounding piece yet there's a lot of things going on if you pay close attention. The song just grabs you and and you can't help but ignore all that's around you and just listen.
Bright Eyes - Make a Plan to Love Me
Bright Eyes - Tourist Trap
Lastly here's a video of Conor being interviewed by a sheep puppet and performing "True Blue" around an army of dancing little kids. It's as ridiculous as it sounds. Off the wall.
Bright Eyes - Cassadega @ Amazon.com (on sale for $7.99!)