composed of songs his fans haven't heard before, yet they are still met with
reverence. If his new material is any indication, Conor Oberst, the man
behind Bright Eyes, might be living up to the kudos that adorn him.
He has been hailed by many as a young genius (he began his musical career
when he was barely a teen) as well as reviled by just as many detractors.
All probably would agree he is a prolific songwriter, releasing a record
almost every year. His last two studio efforts, 2005's country-tinged rock
album, "I'm Wide Awake, It's Morning," and the electronic-inflected "Digital
Ash in a Digital Urn," dropped on the same day. Even with his significant
output, he had enough leftover songs that found release on last year's
collection of B-sides and rarities, "Noise Floor (Rarities 1998-2005)."
So it should be no surprise the 27-year-old Oberst would release an EP,
"Four Winds," as a preview the month before his forthcoming full-length
April release, "Cassadaga."
At Metro on Sunday night, the first date on a short tour previewing his new
material, Oberst found himself alongside guitarist/mandolin/pedal steel
aficionado (and co-proprietor of Bright Eye's label Saddle Creek) Mike Mogis
and organist/Wurlitzer and horn player Nate Wolcott, two recent constants in
an ever-changing cast of band mates.
The five-piece backing band was a strong match for the new tunes—all are
multi-instrumentalists who juggled and switched disciplines throughout the
Opening with the "Four Winds," Bright Eyes rocked through the apocalyptic
song, which rollicked in a country-tinged stomp. The swinging "Reinvent the
Wheel" bubbled with piano and infectious fiddle, while "Cartoon Blues"
became a foreboding country tale about not becoming a caricature of one's
self. Meanwhile "Stray Dog Freedom," while lyrically challenged, resembled a
timeless classic rock number, with fuzzy, echoed guitars. As if to remind us
that Oberst is equally adept at more meditative styles, the minimalistic
"Tourist Trap" was a languid and pleasing stroll showcasing Oberst's new
And while previous material, such as the scorching "Make War" and the sway
of "We are Nowhere and it's Now," were crowd favorites, if Bright Eyes' new
EP is a sign of things to come, they'll give naysayers a run for their
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