conor oberst

Conor Oberst – Salutations

Image result for conor oberst salutations album

It’s always hard for me to write about Conor Oberst albums because he’s my favorite songwriter (probably my personal GOAT). I’ve liked every single album (song, really) he’s ever released. So is it worth anybody’s time to read about his new album from my perspective, probably not, but I’m going to do it anyway.

Conor Oberst’s last album (Ruminations) was his most critically acclaimed album since I’m Wide Awake It’s Morning. Ruminations is personal, heartbreaking and sparse. It’s a masterpiece of self reflection and a glimpse into the personal anguish Oberst suffered from health problems, false rape allegations, and insomnia. When I heard that these songs were being re-recorded with a full band along with 7 new songs, I was excited and also really confused. Why did these songs need to be re-recorded? Why release them again less than a year latter? But I’m conditioned to be excited over any new Conor Oberst release.

After listening to Salutations nearly nonstop since it’s release I’m less confused (but not entirely). The full band versions of the songs from Ruminations are well done. Musically, they sound better. Ruminations was haunting and Salutations makes the pill easier to swallow.

Maria Taylor’s angelic voice turns “Counting Sheep” into a lullaby instead of a suicide note. The lyrics are still heartbreaking, but the music and the backing vocals ease the pain of the song. Tachycardia comes to life with a full band. I always felt the last verse needed a full band to really drive home the idea the light bulb being lit for the first time at the World’s fair. The only song that loses just a little bit of it’s appeal is “Till St. Dymphna Kicks Us Out”. It was a perfect ending to a great album and on Salutations it seems kind of lumped in without much thought.

The seven new songs belong on Salutations and probably wouldn’t’ have fit very well on Ruminations (The title track “Salutations” being the exception). “Napalm” is a rock country song that has Oberst sounding a lot like John Prine. My two favorite new songs are “Overdue” and “Anytime Soon”. Both sound like Mystic Valley Band B-sides.

Is Salutations a necessary album? Probably not. But it’s still a great album and an important addition to an already stellar discography. The enamored and admiring fan in me will probably place this album way too high on my end of the year list, but that’s fine with me. I’m a loyal fan and I don’t care who knows it.

Love,

Zach

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Conor Oberst (the concert.)

Last night, Z$ and I saw Conor Oberst and whoa. It was at the Cain’s Ballroom, a historic dance hall in Tulsa. The venue is beautiful, and it has a really intimate feel to it. We were right up front, too. He played a huge variety of songs ranging from the 2000 release Fevers and Mirrors to Upside Down Mountain, his newest release. I had a really hard time holding it together during the first few songs, but I eventually just said, “eh who cares?” and let myself cry if I felt like it. I cried at a Bright Eyes show. 2003 called, they want their stereotypes back. Anyway.

As he played “The Calendar Hung Itself” (I know, you guys), I thought about the first time I heard that song. I was thirteen years old, sitting in my bedroom at my dad’s house. I wasn’t sad enough yet to appreciate it, but when I was, it was waiting for me. His music has been the background music to my entire life since then. The bad times, the really bad times, the worse times, and the good times. It was really cool to see Nate Walcott, too. They’ve been playing together for probably one hundred years, and I always love seeing him play.

Conor once forgot the words to “Ladder Song”, and a 90s couple straight out of a Limp Bizkit music video had to look up the lyrics on their phone. Thank the Lord for smartphones. He played “Bowl of Oranges,” “First Day of My Life,” and “Lua,” so I died then. Also, I was standing behind two high school girls who actually spoke the words “real talk” and “hashtag,” and I was positively brimming with happiness, so I thought it was cute.

He is such a passionate performer. You really get the sense that he pourseverything into his music, which is why I’ve always connected to it. I am still riding high on the post-show feeling (or maybe it’s sleep deprivation, butwho can tell?).IMG_20140918_221522

Video Roundup

Whatever happened to TRL? People still make music videos, although maybe they aren’t as prevalent. I suppose YouTube killed TRL. Thank God Carson Daly has made a comeback on NBC.

I used to live for TRL. As I got older, I’d complain about how “my” bands (see: Blink 182 and Avril Lavigne) were always at the end of the countdown. Years later, I stumbled upon the TRL studio while in Times Square, and a small part of me wanted to sneak into the crowd upstairs and catch a glimpse of Carson Daly’s black nails, to scream along with the preteen girls who, like, came all the way from New Jersey. On a school day.

Anyway, a lot of good musicians hit the late night circuit last week (Conor Oberst, Jenny Lewis, and Beck) and/or released great videos for even greater new songs (Karen O), so check them all out and rate them so I can present a typed list to Mr. Daly for his approval.

 

Watch Jenny Lewis on The Tonight Show.

Watch Beck on the Colbert Report.