Written by Almightyseancore
Oh great, another indie rock supergroup, with a self titled album, no less. The band consists of Conor Oberst (Bright Eyes/Desaparecidos/Mystic Valley Band), Jim James (My Morning Jacket), M. Ward (M. Ward/She And Him) and Mike Mogis (Bright Byes, and lots of production work, including The Gloria Record, and most Saddle-Creek bands). From the name of the band and it’s infamous members, you’re bound to assume the obvious basics; lots of acoustic instruments and sad songs, but this album really isn’t anything like that.
The music isn’t exactly folk, either. Most of the songs are up beat and played with electric guitars, invoking lots of mellow energy and optimism. Hell, the opening track uses a dance beat instead of a rhythm section! The song structures are great, and it’s a great listen, but i don’t see myself picking this album up very often. It feels more of a novelty project that is designed to be nice little appetizer for fans waiting for other records by the core members “real” projects, though it is interesting to hear all these guys working together as a team.
Most of the upbeat stuff comes from Jim James. He brings along a Grateful Dead type feel of guitar playing and melody. Conor Oberst seems to get most of the spot light, 4 songs all to himself during the first half of the album, but only one during the second half. Conor’s songs are a lot like the stuff he did with Mystic Valley Band, very country-ish, with a “Travelin’ Prophet” type lyrical theme. His song writing is full of southern-desert-Americana type lyrics, like a story you’d hear in a 1920s saloon. There’s also a few songs on this album where band members all share vocal parts, like “Baby Boomer”, which has a really catchy down beat that I caught myself tapping my foot to while driving to work yesterday.
The only thing that really bugged me about this record is that it’s obviously a fan pleaser, none of the members are really doing anything outside of their norm, aside from the people they are working with (and conor/m. ward/ and Mike Mogus all worked together on the last Bright Eyes album anyway, so…) there really should have been more genre experimentation, but that wouldn’t have fit their name very well, would it? All in all it really is a fun album full of music that isn’t bad, but isn’t great, and even though they are going on tour for this record, i don’t see them making a second one.
My final feelings on this album… It’s good, but it’s nothing you’ll nerd out on or obsess over.