Tag Archives: Conor Oberst

137. Neko Case – “Fox Confessor Brings the Flood”

It’s a pretty substantial leap from Carter to Neko Case. Gone is punk-laced cynicism. Up pops too-cool-for-any-school chanteusery.

Neko Case Fox Confessor Brings the Flood album coverNeko is on par with Conor Oberst in terms of her prolific nature and willingness/ability to jump genres, bands, roles with apparent ease.

This album was her breakout album, and the only one of hers I possess.  There is no strong justification for its loneliness in my collection.  I listen to it regularly and relish bathing in her dulcet tones.

Case almost sits outside musical genres here.  She is notionally a country-singer, but much of this material is lush with strings aplenty and occasional keyboard flourishes.

Case’s voice is given ample room to soar. Unlike so many other female vocalists in this domain (Blasko, Wainwright etc), her vocal stylings are restrained and respectful of vowel-pronunciation norms.

The imagery in the songwriting is mesmerising without being difficult or overly obscure.  The phrasing is beautifully matched to the rhythms.  Nothing is ridiculously catchy, but soon each tune will have lodged itself somewhere in your psyche.

I suspect Case has always been one of those folks who intimidates all around here with her talent and other-worldness. But I’m glad she shares tunes like this with us:

File under: Luscious lupine lullabies

98. Bright Eyes – “I’m Wide Awake, It’s Morning”

This is the only CD I own from US wunderkind wordsmith Conor Oberst.  In many ways, he’s a shares a lot with Will Oldham, burdened as he is with a warbly voice and a penchant for multiple band names. He is much more palatable however, with less idiosyncrasies in delivery plus Teenbeat good looks (so you’re much more likely to see him on tele and splashed across the magazine pages). Hence his much great success.

bright-eyes-im-wide-awake-it's-morning-album-coverHis fanbase is a refreshing outcome, as his work is not overly immediate. This album, for example,  is a ‘grower’, filled with little tales that benefit from multiple listens.  Oberst sings in such a fashion that you want to understand him and share his experience. There is biting satire and pithy commentary in amongst it all.

The underlying orchestration feels eerily familiar.  He’s treading very similar ground to other ‘sway and swoon’ type efforts from Neko Case and Martha Wainwright. It is a damn effective genre, as long as you’re willing to listen hard.

Intriguingly, this album came out at the same time as an ‘electronic’ album by the same crew.  I’ll have to chase it up to hear the contrast.

File under: Subtle but effective