Thursday, September 18, 2008

Conor Oberst, Conor Oberst

  • Artist: Conor Oberst
  • Album Title: Conor Oberst
  • Record Label: Ramseur
  • Release Date: 8/5/2008
  • Rating: 8.0
  • Bands Web Site:
  • Sound: Indie Rock, Country Rock, Singer-Songwriter
  • Similar Artists: Colin Meloy, Jenny Lews, Bob Dylan

"Hey, have you heard the new Conor Oberst?

"There's a new Bright Eyes?"

"No, it's just Conor Oberst."

"...Bright Eyes basically is just Conor Oberst; I don't understand."

"The album is 'Conor Oberst' by Conor Oberst; he didn't go by 'Bright Eyes' for this album."

"Is that some sort of statement?"

"I have no idea. I guess it would be like if Bono released an album called 'Paul Hewson' as Paul Hewson. And if he did that, I would take it as him trying to be less of a pretentious douchebag, though I'm not sure that's what Oberst is doing."

"It's frightening you know Bono's real name. So is Oberst being less of a douchebag?"

"Well, I'm not exactly sure he is a douchebag to begin with. He does some pretty fucking annoying things on his records, but maybe he's just too earnest. I mean, who puts an interview of themselves on their own record? Even if its fake."

"And has background voices."

"Yeah. And Cassedega? The fucking thing won a Grammy...for best record packaging, with all that hidden shit. I mean it was a decent enough record, but I didn't feel like I could relate to it. In fact, I haven't really liked a Bright Eyes album since I'm Wide Awake It's Morning."

"Because you live in New York City?"

"Because it wasn't just about fucking Conor Oberst! And that's what I like about this album, it has a bunch of songs that are him singing about shit that has nothing to do with him or anyone he knows. He went to Mexico and wrote some songs about all kinds of shit. It doesn't make me feel like I need to search for some deeper hipster-ironic meaning in every fucking song."

"Are any of the songs about Mexico?"

"I have no fucking idea, really, but they have some beautiful lyrics. Like on 'Cape Canaveral', he sings 'Like the citrus glow off the old orange grove/Or the red rocket blaze over Cape Canaveral/It’s been a nightmare to me'. It's beautiful, and stays close to his folk-rock center instead of drifting to the fringes of his sound. It's uncomfortable sounding by his fringe..."

"I'll have to buy the record, because you can't sing for shit dude."

"There's a reason I'm talking to you about this record instead of making my own. Anyway, he also rocks a lot more on this album than he usually does. Country-rock songs, some real rollicking numbers like 'Sauslito', 'I Don't Wanna Die(In The Hospital)', 'Moab' and 'Souled Out!!!'. Electric guitar solos, crashing drums, he goes all out. 'I Don't Wanna Die' is my favorite song, it has a furious pace, and it's just fun. He actually laughs on one track, it sounds like he's having fun. Not as much navel gazing. And I don't know exactly who is in The Mystic Valley Band, but they play the hell out of their instruments."

"The Mystic Valley Band?"

"Yeah, he dubbed his backing band the Mystic Valley Band."

"'Dubbed'? Did they have a say in this? Can you just go around dubbing things?"

"...that's not the point."

"Whatever, sounds a little douchey to me. I don't go around naming my friends."

"I have a theory that people who go around saying exactly what they think and doing exactly what they want get labeld douchebags by people who can't stand the fact that someone isn't polite enough to play along with all of society's bullshit."

"...that sounds like something a douchebag would say."

"Fuck you, just buy the record."

Download from eMusic, iTunes.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

That's Not What I Meant

I've been going home a lot lately. Travelling means bringing things; which in turn means forgetting said things. I've lost some weight this year, so my jeans ride a little too low without a belt. Unfortunately, I've left belts at a friend's house in Baltimore, my parents' place, and at friends' in the city. Which left me beltless the other day at the office, my jeans threatening to fall right off my Irish ass(which is an oxymoron), and led to the following exchange:

    Lady Co-worker: You should buy some belts.

    Me(without thinking): Yeah, I keep leaving my belts at other people's places.

    Lady Co-worker: ...

So, now I'm the office man-whore. 

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Music Review: The Avett Brothers, Gleam II

Artist: The Avett Brothers
Album Title: The Gleam II (EP)
Record Label: Ramseur
Release Date: 7.22.2008
Rating: 8.5
Bands Web Site:
Sound: Alternative Country, Progressive Folk (Warm acoustic sounding)
Similar Artists: Wilco, The Jayhawks

I would like to thank The Avett Brothers for providing the perfect antidote for the late summer blues. Listening to "The Gleam II"1 is a cathartic experience; the warm acoustic songs about family, love, death and regret help you sort things out - or at least come to terms with them. Your head nods along with a beautiful melody and thoughts about letting the past go("Tear Down This House"), family loves and rivalry('there was nothing worth sharing/like the love that let us/share our name', from "Murder In The City") or just laments about how messed up love is ('and Cupids arrow is backwards and bent/when it flies for me', from "Black, Blue") form in your head. Or maybe that part is just me. Though, if you've managed to spend time on this planet and you can't relate to regret, loves lost and family drama you're either very blessed or the living damned.

Of course the Brother's 2006 breakthrough "Emotionalism" explored similar ground(in fact, so have all their records). Somehow, though, "Gleam II" still sounds fresh, with the open sound of the banjo, the plucking acoustic guitar and heartfelt worn vocals. It manages to be simple, but not monotonous and boring. Towards the end of the EP, the songs do seem to run into each other's sameness - and then an electric version of "The Greatest Sum" drops. At first, after seven songs sounding of hollowed wood and strings, the electric guitar and banging drum-fills are jarring - but the classic-rock skinning adds another layer of impact and drama to the song. I hope this is a sign of things to come on their upcoming Rick Rubin produced album(apparently the bearded guru was a fan of "Emotionalism", which I guess means it can't be regarded as overlooked anymore).

1When I hear the word "Gleam", I can't help but think of Marty Schottenheimer's famous 'there's a gleam, gentlemen, there's a gleam' speech. This is why I'll never be a true romantic.

Buy It On eMusic
Buy It On iTunes

Monday, September 01, 2008

A Decision

I'm visiting my parents, taking a shower when I notice that there are two variations of the same brand of men's body wash sitting next to the shampoo: Revitalizing Cool, and Invigorating Clean. Apparently my brothers have minor but important differences in their choice of body washes, and now I'm left with a choice. A big choice. The consequences could reverberate the rest of the day.

Do I want to be revitalized or invigorated? I assume both products get you clean, so does that mean one gives a bonus aura of "cool"? What do I want to say later in the day when someone asks how I am? Will I be telling a beautiful woman at a bar that I'm invigorated, maybe wishing I could be saying that I was revitalized...and cool, baby.

And there's more. The invigorating brand says it's "50% more value", yet it's clearly only a third bigger than the other bottle at most. Can I dock points from a brand for lying? Will using it influence me to lie? Will they be invigorating lies?

The decision was impossible, so I did the only logical thing: I used both. So, I was invigoratingly revitalized clean and cool. That's four adjectives to start the day.