Reviews

Vinyl Box Set

Author: Jay Riggio
It seems most people I know have never listened to Bright Eyes but have permanently written off Conor Oberst as a whiny little asshole. The culmination of pussy rock, if you will. I kind of can't blame them either; Oberst doesn't exactly rate high on the machismo meter. From the pretty face to the sensitive lyrics to performing under the particularly unmasculine tag Bright Eyes, it's hard not to side with the above mentioned. It really is. The truth is, love him or hate him, Conor Oberst, the manchild behind Bright Eyes, may be a whiny asshole, but he's a goddamned talented one. Playing the role of bedpan for unsympathetic reviewers, Oberst has snubbed his critics by consistently putting out some of the most unique and thought provoking music in recent years.

Saddle Creek has issued the fully remastered, limited edition Bright Eyes 7XLP Vinyl Box Set (Insert sound byte of teenage girl screams here). It's basically the first five Bright Eyes releases on record, including the debut album, A Collection of Songs Written and Recorded 1995-1997, which was previously unavailable on vinyl.

Aside from the collector-inspired packaging, Saddle Creek went ahead and added extra tracks that previously only appeared on Japanese imports. The only record in the set that is completely new is the Japanese EP Don't Be Frightened of Turning the Page. It's basically the Oh, Holy Fools split EP with only Bright Eyes songs, including two unreleased tracks.

If you don't already know how good these five albums are, you'll just have to buy them yourself. I could fan out for hours on this band, but I won't. My space for this review is limited. So for my fellow fans, I should probably fill you in on what we haven't already heard. First off, included in the set is a two-foot-high poster of the box cover art. It's super nice, so expect to see some framed ones on ebay soon. Each record sleeve is adorned with its original cover art screened on one side, and new art and track listings on the other. And for a little extra zing, the import record Don't be Frightened of Turning the Page includes the original Japanese import artwork.

Collectively there are five bonus tracks. The only extra track on the sophomore release Letting off The Happiness is called "Empty Canyon/Empty Canteen," and it's the only song that's not up to par with the rest of the album. It would be much more fitting on the musically young A Collection of Songs Written and Recorded 1995-1997.

Off Fevers And Mirrors there are two bonus tracks. The first, titled "The Joy Of Discovery," is just Oberst and his acoustic. Normally this uncultivated combination is enough to make me love a Bright Eyes song. But this particular track grows repetitive, and eventually turns annoying.

The second song, "Jetsabel Removes the Undesirables," is much more fitting on Fever and Mirrors. Eerie guitar recorded in what I imagine is a haunted house gives the feeling that it's a continuation of the album's first track, "A Spindle, a Darkness, a Fever and a Necklace. In other words, it's good.

"I Won't Ever Be Happy Again" off Don't Be Frightened of Turning the Pageis phenomenal. It's a beautifully crafted song that addresses the horrors of widespread mediocrity. Why wasn't this song released in the states? For fans, this set is worth getting for this song alone. The last track off of the EP literally reflects the album title. This song, "Mirrors and Fevers," is stripped of all musical implements. It sounds more like a drama student testing his voice range before a rehearsal than an actual song. It isn't so much a song as it is filler between songs.

The Bright Eyes Vinyl Box Set won't transform ultramasculine Conor Oberst-haters into fans, but it may give them an opportunity to massacre Oberst's songs of pretty abandon. Imagine the Bright Eyes/NWA remix. Oooh! Regardless, this insanely affordable box set will give enthusiasts a chance to hear some new tracks and spin some softhearted vinyl.

4/0/5/0


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