If ever your day's too peachy and you're missing out on that sense of feeling wounded, cold and desperately alone, then last year's achingly beautiful "Ruminations" ought to be your go-to album. Written in snowbound Omaha, Nebraska, after Conor Oberst was invalided off his punk band, Desaparecidos' tour with debilitating mental and physical ailments (brain cyst included), it was sorrowful, cynical and sparse. Despite reeking of mortality, it still managed to flip the bird at this wearying world and remind us that Oberst was not dead yet.
By March 2017, we've gone from "Ruminations", fragile and introspective, to "Salutations", bolder and more outward-looking. Billed as a companion to last year's album, it gives us the ten "Ruminations" songs with a full band (as he originally planned to release them), including the Felice Brothers and drum legend Jim Keltner, the album's 'spiritual leader' according to Oberst. Generously, we also receive seven new songs. Electrifying what was bare and unplugged brings the inevitable (and complimentary) Dylan analogy, whilst the verve and songwriting acumen of Neil Young, The Pogues and Crowded House is evident throughout.
Whilst the original songs remain lyrically rooted in Weltschmerz, gone is the quivering, 'please don't punch me' timbre of Oberst's voice. The full-band clout brings invigoration to many songs, so "Gossamer Thin" becomes a beefed-up waltz, with which to dance away the heartache. Harmonies in "Till St. Dymphna Kicks Us Out" give a sense that there might be a 'confidant who'll never let you down' when you eventually hit the bar. The majestic instrumental break on "Barbary Coast (Later)" makes the chance of enduring, not withering, feel much more achievable. It's not all uplifting (surprisingly). Betrayal and lost idealism in "You All Loved Him Once" amplify to 'grown-man-crying' levels, the plaintive guitar amply coaxing the tear ducts.
Continue reading: Conor Oberst - Salutations Album Review
2016 looks doomed to be the year that a millionaire, pig's-head-porking Prime Minister decided to 'let the people speak', blithely assuming to the bitter end that the good people of Sunderland must speak like he does.
Those from across the pond, will probably write it off as the year they ended up hiring a billionaire, tiny-handed, Shredded-Wheat-haired fanny-grabber as Commander-in-Chief. Oh, brave new world, that has such people in it...
Praise be, then, for the gift of music, and all of its artistry, its erudition and its social commentary. What more welcoming and uplifting distraction could we have had than the musical creativity that graced us in the last twelve months? Here are ten antidotes to the malaise that was 2016.
Continue reading: Jon Kean's Top Ten Albums Of 2016
The Conor Oberst rape allegations turn out to be "100% false"
For around 6 months, Conor Oberst has been at the centre of a rape accusation stemming from North Carolina resident Joanie Faircloth, who had asserted that the Bright Eyes frontman assaulted her 11 years ago at a concert in 2003. She has now recanted that accusation.
Conor Oberst performs with Bright Eyes in Williamsburg in 2011 (Getty/Mike Lawrie)
Admitting that her initial comments on the website xoJane – and subsequent statements made surrounding the alleged rape – were “100% false”, Faircloth released “a public apology” to Oberst, “recanting her on-line accusations of being sexually assaulted by the musician.”
Continue reading: Conor Oberst's Name Is Cleared As Accuser Of Rape Recants Story
The multi-talented Oberst lost out in the Llewyn Davis casting.
Now this is an interesting tidbit of movie trivia: Conor Oberst has revealed that he auditioned for the lead role in folk music comedy-drama, Inside Llewyn Davis. Although the Coen Brothers eventually cast Oscar Isaac as the titular folk singer, Bright Eyes' singer Conor Oberst was reportedly considered for the role.
Conor Oberst Auditioned For The Lead Role In 'Inside Llewyn Davis.'
"I know I told you this when we met, but I tried out for your role in Inside Llewyn Davis," Oberst told Isaac for Interview magazine. "Thank god for everyone that I didn't get it." Perhaps one of the main reasons Oberst failed to convince the Coen Brothers that he was best suited for the role was because of his non-existent acting C.V. which could have proved risky to take on in such a challenging lead role.
Continue reading: Bright Eyes' Conor Oberst Missed Out On 'Inside Llewyn Davis' Lead Role
Review of Conor Oberst and The Mystic Valley Band's album Outer South.
Continue reading: Conor Oberst and The Mystic Valley Band, Outer South Album Review
Review of 'Souled Out' single by Conor Oberst.
After the rhapsodic critical reception for Bright Eyes last album Cassadega, Conor Oberst might have been forgiven for succumbing to temptation and ploughing the same erudite Bush-bashing furrow; ever the contrarian he instead dissolved his nom-de-plume, relocated from New York to Mexico and recruited a new troupe called The Mystic Valley Band.
Continue reading: Conor Oberst, Souled Out Single Review