Posts Tagged ‘Bright Eyes’

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When Bright Eyes announced their first new album since 2011, the media excitedly reported on the band’s reconciliation. But, in reality, Bright Eyes never really broke up. They wandered in different directions, sure, but there were no hard feelings. Gathering to record “Down In The Weeds Where The Worlds Once Was” was a matter of good timing and schedules aligning. Frontman Conor Oberst suggested the idea for a new record at bandmate Nathaniel Walcott’s Christmas party in 2017, and the pair called the third member of their trio Mike Mogis from the bathroom to pitch the idea. “It was just something we wanted to do for ourselves, because we were all in this stage of our lives…” Oberst says. “Between kids being born and people dying and divorces and people falling in love and all of the crazy amount of life that’s transpired for the three of us, personally… It was just like, what are we going to do? Let’s do the thing we do best. Let’s make a record.” They certainly did some of their best work on Down In The Weeds… The album sounds undeniably like a Bright Eyes record, but it ebbs and flows with new anxieties and darknesses. Fans will delight in a true-to-style Bright Eyes record, but, at the same time, any music fan will be able to appreciate the gruesome grandeur of this folk-rock mastery.

“Mariana Trench” the new song by Bright Eyes off ‘Down in the Weeds, Where the World Once Was’ out August 21 on Dead Oceans.

Bright Eyes have been back with a few new songs of late and today we finally get the announcement that we’ve all been waiting for. Conor Oberst and co. are back with their brand new album (their first in 9 years), “Down In The Weeds Where The World Once Was”, which will be released on August 21st via Dead Oceans.

A lone pair of footsteps meanders down a street in Omaha, into the neighborhood bar and then into a near-imperceptible tangle of conversations – about wars, sleepless nights – a surrealist din pushing against the sound of ragtime. Then, as the background quiets, a line rings out clearly: “I think about how much people need – what they need right now is to feel like there’s something to look forward to. We have to hold on. We have to hold on.”Thus we enter the fitting, cacophonic introduction to Bright Eyes’ tenth studio album and first release since 2011. Down in the Weeds, Where the World Once Was is an enormous record caught in the profound in-between of grief and clarity – one arm wrestling its demons, the other gripping the hand of love, in spite of it.The end of Bright Eyes’ unofficial hiatus came naturally. Conor Oberst pitched the idea of getting the band back together during a 2017 Christmas party at Bright Eyes bandmate Nathaniel Walcott’s Los Angeles home. The two huddled in the bathroom and called Mike Mogis, who was Christmas shopping at an Omaha mall. Mogis immediately said yes. There was no specific catalyst for the trio, aside from finding comfort amidst a decade of brutal change. Sure, Why now? is the question, but for a project whose friendship is at the core, it was simply Why not?The resulting Bright Eyes album came together unlike any other of its predecessors. Down in the Weeds is Bright Eyes’ most collaborative, stemming from only one demo and written in stints in Omaha and in bits and pieces in Walcott’s Los Angeles home. Radically altering a writing process 25 years into a project seems daunting, but Oberst said there was no trepidation: “Our history and our friendship, and my trust level with them, is so complete and deep. And I wanted it to feel as much like a three-headed monster as possible.”

Bright Eyes: Down in the Weeds, Where the World Once Was: Limited Edition Transparent Orange + Red Double Vinyl 2LP, CD + Exclusive Signed Print
Along with the album announcement comes the release of the newest single “Mariana Trench,” which is another winning effort from the band who seems rejuvenated with a new lease of life here. The band is tapping into the fully formed songwriting that made us fall in love with them in the full place, while also flexing a new muscle at the very same time.

“Mariana Trench” is the next song by Bright Eyes off ‘Down in the Weeds, Where the World Once Was’ out August 21st on Dead Oceans.

Legendary indie-folk trio Bright Eyes has released the next single off their highly anticipated upcoming reunion album. Bright Eyes’ last studio LP, titled The People’s Key, was as long ago as 2011. Since then, the band has been relatively inactive, although frontman Conor Oberst has continued a steady stream of releases. Most recently, Oberst teamed up with Dead Oceans-signee Phoebe Bridgers to form the Better Oblivion Community Center supergroup. The duo’s eponymous debut album was released in 2019.

In February 2020, Bright Eyes joined Bridgers and quietly signed to Dead Oceans, leading many to speculate a new album was in the works. Since then, three singles have been released: “Persona Non Grata,” “Forced Convalescence,” and now most recently, “One and Done.”

Each single has been a clear continuation of past Bright Eyes releases, with fresh twists. “One and Done” features almost psychedelic production set against Oberst’s characteristically pointed, folksy vocals. There’s also a heavy emphasis on strings in this track, providing extra depth and a sense of melodrama.

In a recent interview with NME, Oberst described the upcoming album as an extension and improvement of past work:

“We wanted to invoke some elements of our oldest records… The sounds aren’t all pristine and super-manicured. We wanted to feel like the band we started as kids who were into punk rock and stuff like that. My favorite stuff walks the line between the human, raw, emotional and unhinged qualities, but with a little more sophisticated approach.”

Despite having released three singles, neither the band nor Dead Oceans have provided any further details regarding the record’s title or its release date. Additionally, Bright Eyes has had to postpone upcoming 2020 tour dates (the first in almost a decade) including a performance at End Of The Road Festival in light of the ongoing COVID-19 crisis. There are many uncertainties regarding Bright Eyes’ reunion, yet the three singles released so far are incredibly compelling: keep an eye out for upcoming announcements.

Bright Eyes, photo by <a href="">Shawn Brackbill</a>

Conor Oberst were coming to New York, L.A., England, and Japan, Bright Eyes signed to Dead Oceans for a new album and then announced their first live performances in more than nine years. Conor Oberst was about to play England’s End of the Road festival festival in September. befor the lockdown happened.

Dead Oceans co-founder Phil Waldorf said in a press release, “Bright Eyes is not just a formative artist for me personally, but for countless people who work at Dead Oceans. To get to work with a band that is part of our own origin stories in falling in love with music is the rarest of privileges. We are thrilled to be part of another great chapter in Bright Eyes enduring legacy.”

Bright Eyes’ last studio album was 2011’s The People’s Key. Earlier this month, the group launched an Instagram account, posting a mysterious teaser video. They’ve also shared images of posters plastered on city walls via their Instagram stories. Conor Oberst, Mike Mogis, and Nathaniel Walcott signed to Dead Oceans and have been recording, with intentions to release new music this year. The band have also shared a teaser video featuring them recording in the studio with an orchestra.

Their shows were to include a stop at Dorset, England’s End of the Road festival, There has been speculation that there might be more in the works from Bright Eyes this year after the band popped back up on social media recently.

Since Bright Eyes went on hiatus, Mogis has kept busy as a producer and Walcott has worked as a film composer. Oberst’s punk band Desaparecidos also reformed for 2015’s Payola.

“Persona Non Grata” features Conor Oberst (vocal, piano), Mike Mogis (bajo sexto), Nathaniel Walcott (Hammond organ, electric piano), Macey Taylor (bass), Jon Theodore (drums, percussion), Joe Todero (bagpipes), Malcolm Wilbur (bagpipes), Joe Fuchs (bagpipes), and Susan Sanchez (vocals).

It is produced by Bright Eyes, engineered by Mike Mogis with assistance from Adam Roberts. Mixing by Mike Mogis. Mastering by Bob Ludwig.

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Bright Eyes are the Omaha, Nebraska based band consisting of Conor Oberst, Mike Mogis, and Nathaniel Walcott.

Bright Eyes have returned with new song “One and Done,” the third track released from their upcoming new album, following the previously shared “Forced Convalescence” and “Persona Non Grata.”

“One and Done” is built with some lovely string arrangements that give reminds a bit of some of The Last Shadow Puppets earlier work, just with a more introspective and vulnerable folk performance from Obsert as well as some welcome horns.

It’s another wonderful new track from the band who are back in fine form. We need that album as soon as possible.


Released May 27th, 2020

Bright Eyes (Conor Oberst, Mike Mogis, and Nathaniel Walcott) have shared their first new song in nine years, “Persona Non Grata.” The band previously announced that they had signed to Dead Oceans and had been recording, with intentions to release new music this year. They also previously announced a world tour. In January they also shared a teaser video featuring them recording in the studio with an orchestra. Check out the track “Persona Non Grata” below, followed by a statement from the band and the band’s tour dates (hopefully they won’t be postponed or cancelled due to COVID-19).

While Oberst has kept busy in the last decade with solo and collaborative projects (such as last year’s Better Oblivion Community Center duo with Phoebe Bridgers), the band with which he made his name have not released an album since 2011’s The People’s Key.

In a previous press release Dead Oceans co-founder Phil Waldorf had this to say about signing the band: “Bright Eyes is not just a formative artist for me personally, but for countless people who work at Dead Oceans. To get to work with a band that is part of our own origin stories in falling in love with music is the rarest of privileges. We are thrilled to be part of another great chapter in Bright Eyes enduring legacy.”

Since Bright Eyes went on hiatus, Mogis has kept busy as a producer and Walcott has worked as a film composer. Oberst’s punk band Desaparecidos also reformed for 2015’s album release Payola.

“Persona Non Grata” by Bright Eyes out now on Dead Oceans Records.

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The first line-up announcement for End of The Road 2020! Pixies, King Krule, Angel Olsen, Big Thief, Bright Eyes + loads more.

Featured Track: “Alec Eiffel” by Pixies. Written by Charles Thompson,

Conor Oberst Releases "No One Changes" and "The Rockaways"

Conor Oberst dropped two new gloriously melancholy singles on Bandcamp Wednesday morning: “No One Changes” and “The Rockaways” The former is a somber, introspective piano number which elegantly drops lyrics like “a goddamn shit show.” The latter is somber, introspective, post-breakup acoustic song with Bright Eyes’s  Nathaniel Walcott contributing keyboard parts.

The songs can be purchased digitally now and will be made available as a double A-side 7″ single on February 1st, 2019.

In August, the Oberst’s song “LAX” was featured on the soundtrack to the Ethan Hawke film Juliet, Naked. Hawke covered the song as his aging Gen X singer-songwriter from the film. Oberst then re-recorded a new version of the song with Phoebe Bridgers added vocals for Amazon Music’s “Produced By” series. The track was produced by Simone Felice of the Felice Brothers (his backing band) for Amazon Music’s “Produced By” series. Felice’s session also features songs by Bridgers, Wesley Schultz (the Lumineers), and more. Oberst’s song, indeed, does take its name from the Los Angeles airport. The artist formerly known as Bright Eyes includes lines in his bittersweet narrative like “It’s raining in L.A./and everyone’s gone mad” and “I’ll pick you up, just tell me when you land” over simple solo piano chording and snippets of electro acoustic ambience.

Conor Oberst’s last proper full-length Salutations came out in 2017, which was mainly a reworking of his 2016 album Ruminations.

Desaparecidos is a 5-piece rock band fronted by Bright Eyes singer/songwriter Conor Oberst (vocals, guitar) and featuring Denver Dalley (guitar), Landon Hedges (bass, vocals), Ian McElroy (keyboards), and Matt Baum (drums). Matt and Ian are familiar to many of you from the various incarnations of Bright Eyes‘ touring band of which they played in.

Conor Oberst may be better known for his confessional songwriting and storytelling, but Desaparecidos is nothing of the sort. Indeed, similar vocal melodies and song structure are present, but the guitars are loud and distorted, the bass is pounding, and the drums and keyboards round out this hi-energy, pop-rock band without the lyrical focus of personal relationships. Oberst screams out observational commentary about urban development, the sacrifice of human value for the dollar bill, and the new American Dream.


Setting out to capture the rawness of the band, the record was recorded over one week at Presto! Recording Studio in Lincoln with producer Mike Mogis. Bright Eyes fans will love it, but it’ll also appeal to anyone who’s ever dug At The Drive In, The Pixies, Weezer, Dinosaur Jr., etc.

This album was originally released February 11th, 2002

CD Box Set

Bright Eyes have announced a new box set, collecting six of their records from the 2000s. It’s aptly titled The Studio Albums 2000-2011, and it’s out on vinyl and CD on September 16th via Saddle Creek. The Studio Albums includes 2000’s Fevers and Mirrors, 2002’s Lifted, or, The Story Is in the Soil, Keep Your Ear to the Ground, 2005’s I’m Wide Awake, It’s Morning and Digital Ash in a Digital Urn, 2007’s Cassadaga, and their most recent LP The People’s Key (2011). All of the albums have been remastered by engineer Bob Ludwig (at Gateway Mastering).

Formed in 1995, Bright Eyes have released nine studio albums (with another one on its way later this month) and each of their records explore different sonic territories—folk, emo, country, pop, indie rock. It’s a tough and almost unfair challenge to rank their albums, much less their songs, but it’s a task worth exploring.

Still, with every album, the distinguishing factors remain: frontman Conor Oberst’s shaky, despondent vocals, and his existential, often story-like lyricism. At the heart of every song is some kind of revelation, whether it’s about love, lust, pain, or existence. In Cassadaga, this happens in a magical setting with cowboy vibes and no laws; whereas Digital Ash in a Digital Urn exists within a morbid electro-pop atmosphere, like a realm of cyberspace.

Down in the Weeds, Where the World Once Was arrives August. 21st via Dead Oceans. The record travels through water and fire, life and death, sickness and health. It’s hard to place what territory Bright Eyes have not touched; and if there’s any space left over, they will be sure to explore it at some point.

The vinyl edition of the box set includes 10 coloured LPs, 12 8×10 photo prints by Butch Hogan, and an essay by Nathaniel Krenkel (who founded Team Love Records with Conor Oberst). Each record is “housed in a foil stamped linen-wrapped box.” In addition, each disc in the 6xCD edition is “housed in a foil stamped linen coated board slip case.” See the vinyl box set below.

The new remastered records will be available individually in November via Saddle Creek. Fevers and Mirrors and Lifted are out November 4th. I’m Wide Awake, Digital Ash, and Cassadaga are out November 11th.

Bright Eyes – The Studio Albums 2000 – 2011
Bright Eyes is largely the brainchild of Nebraskan song writer Conor Oberst and his long time collaborator/producer/multi instrument playing friend Mike Mogis. Cataloguing all of the bands studio works, this box set features some of, in our opinion, the most underrated albums of their time. This long awaited box set catalogues Conor Oberst’s song writing at its peak, beautifully put together on stunning coloured LPs with some lovely extras. It really hits the old cliché of being ‘a must for any fan’ which we hear far too much in press releases from labels trying to promote box sets like this, but it really is worth it!

“Lover I Don’t Have to Love” Reckoning with toxic impulses, addiction, love, and pain, this track is the most intense Bright Eyes song. It moves slowly, and Oberst’s vocals are close to whispers, but his words are raw and sharp: “I want a lover I don’t have to love / I want a girl who’s too sad to give a fuck.” There’s a powerful tension between darkness and love, and this storyline is specific but universal. Towards the end, Oberst proclaims: “But life’s no story book / Love’s an excuse to get hurt,” and it’s just one of his many despondent observations that make Bright Eyes so evocative and special.

“You Will. You? Will. You? Will. You? Will.” This beautiful acoustic track follows two lovers who consider each other to be “the re-occuring kind.” Oberst compares their love to a storybook, and reflects on the beginning: “We were just kids when I first kissed you / In the attic of my parents’ house / And I wish we were there now.” It’s a messy type of love, but Oberst paints it as romantic and meant-to-be, playing with ideas of destiny and fate. His voice is confident and enthused by the end, and the instruments are booming like an excited orchestra at a wedding.

‘Fevers and Mirrors’ and ‘Lifted…’ are two great examples of how to make beautifully crafted songs with darker subject matter like failed suicide attempts, and drug abuse. Both, are to some extent, reminiscent of the writing style of Leonard Cohen, and Nick Cave, these songs aren’t afraid to lay out Oberst’s misery, or unafraid to be called depressing by some, because if songs are as good as these early works, they can’t be depressing at all!. Bright Eyes, but make it rock ‘n’ roll.

This Fevers and Mirrors track best demonstrates the vague Victorian aura this album plays with. It samples the unsettling melody and some lyrics from the 1964 Fiddler on the Roof song of the same name, and Oberst’s haunting voice adds to the darkness. He sings of the cyclical nature of life, describing it as a trap we can’t escape without death.

The heartbreak ballad is best listened to during a breakup. Oberst wallows in self-pity to the fullest extent, showing it off like he’s proud. His voice trembles in the typical Oberst fashion, but at times it sounds as if he’s about to burst into sobs. He even breaks out in a yell, lamenting the betrayal of the one he loved the most: “You said you hate my suffering / And you understood / And you’d take care of me / You’d always be there / Well where are you now?” Even though he’s clearly being dramatic, it’s impossible to not sympathize with him and want to cry yourself.

The Calendar Hung Itself…This obsessive love song is an iconic emo anthem. Every line reads like a Tumblr poem about a toxic relationship between young lovers: “Does he lay awake listening to your breath / Worried that you smoke too many cigarettes?” Oberst is full-on playing a character, and he’s tangled up in something he knows will end up hurting him. It’s the second track on Fevers and Mirrors, and it sets up the scene for the self-pity and panic attacks to come.

The guitars on the song from 2011’s The People’s Key are almost generic, Charming harmonies and a keyboard are layered throughout the song, and an extravagant culmination of the two closes it out. Still, the best part is the beginning, with Oberst singing, “I loved a triple spiral / My maiden-mother-crone,” with a fun rhythm buoying the song along.

The band’s real mainstream breakthrough came with the 2005 release of two albums on the same day, ‘Digital Ash In A Digital Urn’ a slightly more experimental album with touches of Obersts early oddities, and what is seen by many as the bands high point ‘I’m Wide Awake, It’s Morning’. An album that fits in with some of the best modern Americana, with a real love of country and is almost a more career driven album, itching to fulfil the critics who referred to Oberst as a modern day Dylan.

Cassadaga carries on prefectly from where ‘I’m Wide Awake…’ with country inspired tracks at the start of the album, such as the single ‘Four Winds’, but flows through bits of everything the band had done before. The track ‘No One Would Riot For Less’ feels like an end of the world, anti war piece that wouldn’t be out of place at the end of the ‘1984’ film, that no one else could’ve written. Recounting a story about emotional affairs, religion and redemption, this extravagant song sounds at first as if it’s from Neutral Milk Hotel’s In The Aeroplane Over the Sea. Oberst is taking on the perspective of a wife whose husband cheated on her with a mistress, and she’s a vivid, complicated character: “Her bed beneath a crucifix / On guests performing miracles / With the Son of God just hanging like a common criminal.” But nothing in the song compares to Oberst passionately singing the unforgettable line: “Oh, I’ve made love, yeah, I’ve been fucked, so what?”

The heartwarming ballad “First Day of My Life” is Bright Eyes’ biggest hit, though it’s a bit misleading. Oberst is rarely this optimistic, but it explains why he’s so crushed when a relationship ends. His love is deep and committed, and his voice is tender as he recalls the blossoming of it all, quoting what his lover said to him: “This is the first day of my life / I’m glad I didn’t die before I met you.” It’s the tamest, most content part of I’m Wide Awake, It’s Morning—free of any sense of darkness, war or ache.

“When The President Talks To God” This political, country-folk song caught the audience of The Tonight Show with Jay Leno off guard. Bright Eyes were promoting the double release of “I’m Wide Awake, It’s Morning” and Digital Ash in a Digital Urn, and instead of performing songs from either of those albums, they used their platform to protest the presidency of George W. Bush. The song is confrontational enough to give you chills: “When the President talks to God, / Are the conversations brief or long? / Does he ask to to rape our women’s rights?” It gave context as to why Oberst is often cast as one of the most depressed voices of our generation—he’s haunted by the state of the world as much as he is by his own life.

“Middleman” is this evocative western track is an eccentric travelling song. Cassadaga itself resides in a weird world—one representing the town in Volusia County, Fla., known for its psychics, mediums and overall spiritual energy. “Middleman” creates this mystical aura best with careful strumming, poignant violin and what sounds like a bongo drum. Oberst is a mysterious narrator offering vague warnings: “Because I never know when it’s time to go / It’s too crowded now inside / The dead can hide beneath the ground / And the birds can always fly.”

“Land Locked Blues” This song is lyrically perfect down to every line, which is impressive for a nearly six-minute journey. Oberst harmonizes with Emmylou Harris again, and they reckon with a love that must end, wars that won’t stop and the urge to be free. These themes intertwine and interact with each other, most noticeably in this powerful image: “We made love on the living room floor / With the noise in the background from a televised war / And in the deafening pleasure I thought I heard someone say / If we walk away, they’ll walk away.”

“We Are Nowhere And It’s Now” Opening with the lines “If you hate the taste of wine / Why do you drink it ’til you’re blind?,” this song is full of personal, depressing accusations. In the same verse, Oberst asks: “Why are you scared to dream of God / When it’s salvation that you want?” Everything is colossal, though the guitar is tame, and Oberst and legendary country singer Emmylou Harris sing slowly and carefully.

The band’s final album, ‘The Peoples Key’, feels in some ways like a fitting end to the collection in this box, for the most part its a band that is still at its high point, but in moments like the stunning ‘The Ladder Song’ you feel like you’re right back with a ‘Fevers and Mirrors’ Conor. The beauty of all of these albums is how well Mogis can blend the ever changing collection of collaborating musicians that make up Bright Eyes with the bewitching vocals and lyrics from Oberst.