23 April 2007

Make a plan to love me sometime soon….

Conor Oberst, better known as Bright Eyes to the world at large, is an Omaha, Nebraska native with a cool voice and a unique outlook on the world. This guy, who at 27 just released his tenth album (some were compilations or live CD’s), two weeks ago entitled Casadaga, spares no cruelty on the world. He calls it as he sees it and sometimes it can be shocking, sometimes alarming, and sometimes sweet. While I think the comparisons to him and Badly Drawn Boy (whom I adore) are obvious I do believe he has his own voice, but like most people I didn’t hear of him until his 2005 release Digital Ash In A Digital Urn.

I must say, ‘Urn’ is a fine piece of work, but I think Casadaga is a finer piece (with some help from Rachel Yamagata it’s even better than better). There is a feeling that everything ties together more on this CD. You get more of a sense of where this guy is coming from and where he’s been. You can feel the earthiness of Nebraska and his roots. The song “Middleman” is about a man with dreams that have never quite come through. You can taste the dust in your mouth as the lap steel and the woodwinds play on but with a twist – it feels like you’re listening to a 1920’s folk song while the lyrics speak of modern day times.

“I traveled through the atmosphere as a wall of feedback climbed, the pegs were gold, the band was old, they played in half time, now every dream gets whittled down just like every fool gets wise, you will never reap of any seed deprived of sunlight, so I have become the Middleman, the gray areas are mine, the in-between, the absentee is a beautiful disguise….”

The topics on this CD range from needing love, such as “Make a Plan to Love Me” a sweet calling out to a lover, and a guy in a traveling band as on “Soul Singer in a Session Band”. All of these songs have a lot to say and aren’t as simple minded as some of the other music coming out these days. But what really ties them together even more is the country-alt feel – modern, sometimes slow and breezy, sometimes drier than a hot July afternoon in Nebraska. It’s everything you picture it to be and he captures it well. I feel like I could be in a bar in the middle of nowheresville, the sun creeping through the tattered drapes while the jukebox plays the latest greatest hit from 1990 - and it feels good! www.thisisbrighteyes.com/ or www.myspace.com/brighteyes

It was a great weekend in Los Angeles. I am happy to report that thanks to my friend, Julie Neumark (www.myspace.com/julieneumark), the finishing and final unexpected tracks of NUMB have been laid down. It was a total fluke. I had invited her over last weekend to have a listen after the second ‘final mix’. I wanted fresh ears, a fresh perspective and someone who didn’t know my earlier work, or really any of it, actually. I wanted her instincts to speak out and they did – loud and clear. Not only did she like what she heard (which was a relief to realize I’m not off my rocker in offering these songs to the world), she had some ideas about the order, and ideas about what would enhance the overall production. While I’m not sure if she offered or if I asked, Julie ended up filling in some gaps with her beautiful voice and her awesome percussion playing.

It’s weird, really, I knew something was missing but I couldn’t put my finger on it. I was too close to the music and it had been too many months working on these six songs. The work Julie and I did – or really she did as I just played engineer and producer – in two hours made a huge difference in making these songs sound more complete and full of life. She added her talent, her energy and her good vibes! I owe her a huge debt of gratitude and want to dedicate this entry to the hard work and intuition that she brought to this project. She is the cherry on the sundae, the frosting on the cupcake, the hollandaise on the Benedict. Julie, YOU ROCK!!!! Thank you, thank you, thank you!!!!!!!!

Thanks for tuning in…Untill next Monday…CHEERS!! And thanks to all who have tuned in over the last year – somehow it got by be that I started this blog one year ago on 3 April 2006. This is my 54th posting.

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