Reviews

Oh Holy Fools

Author: nate caval
01/17/2001 | Real Detroit Weekly | Album Review
Son, Ambulance, Bright Eyes / Oh Holy Fools / Saddle Creek

Searching for the most refreshing and original songwriting in the world of independent music, one needs not look too much further than the somewhat unlikely home of Omaha, Nebraska. Almost two years after Conor Oberest's brutal and uncompromising songwriting with Bright Eyes came out of the middle of the Plains to annihilate the buzzed-about definitions of "emotional," Saddle Creek records releases a Bright Eyes/Son, Ambulance split EP and introduces the music of Joe Knapp. Over the 8-song LP, the two songwriters use similar methods for their somewhat mad songwriting genius: the instrumentation is basic, often stripped down to simple guitar or piano driven arrangements, and the production focuses on their ability to deliver psychologically laden lyrics. When their arrangements do get big, as on Bright Eyes' "No Lies, Just Love," their instrumentation is as big as it can be - with piano, organ, pedal steel, electric guitar and sampled beats - causing the intimate return to "Katie Come True" all the more poignant. It is in the nature of the songs themselves where the singers alternate punches, from Knapps' painfully dreamy piano and guitar driven dream-pop to Oberest's fairly uncomfortable, emotionally wrenching sonic nightmares. But these punches are the kind that hit in a soft and addictive way, and if the blaring honesty of their songs effects you in a painful or uncomfortable way, they inspire a kind of masochism that is as addictive as they possibly could be.

Reason to buy: Even with the emotionally wavering vocals, this is some of the most honest sounding songwriting in underground music. Best listening experience: Son, Ambulance's "Brown Park," Bright Eyes' "No Lies, Just Love."
Oh Holy Fools

Oh Holy Fools

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