Reviews

I'm Wide Awake, It's Morning

Author: Bao Le-Huu
02/11/2005 | The Orlando Sentinal | Album Review
Turn next to the chapter on House of Blues where we begin Saturday night with what you knew as the Bright Eyes concert. The draw for The Set List however, was opener Neva Dinova, who, despite all the Saddle Creek ballyhoo, continue to be criminally unheralded. Foremost, the sound for their set was unforgivably low. They're a quiet band as it were but the onus must be placed on the folks in the sound booth who should've done a better job of counteracting the pubescent din of genetically chatty teenagers.

Lost on most in attendance was the impressionistic approach of Neva Dinova's elegant sad core. Through seasoned execution, their music was awash in woolen cascades of nuanced tones. A notable aspect was the vintage surf-rock patina of "A Picture in Pocket," a song off their latest album The Hate Yourself Change released this week.

Next up was the engaging set of Seattle's Jesse Sykes and the Sweet Hereafter. Sykes and lead guitarist Phil Wandscher (the original guitarist of Whiskeytown, by the way), struck a dynamic tension between the persistent meter of Sykes' acoustic guitar and the wandering, viscid soul of Wandscher's electric guitar. The quivering whisper that was Sykes' haunting, chalky voice resonated with an almost mystical depth of mood.

From the shrillness I've experienced with some of Bright Eyes' recorded material, I was prepared for the worst but expecting, well, the worst. The band just released two albums simultaneously at the end of January but with the decision to perform only songs from the countrified I'm Wide Awake, It's Morning record, bombastic wunkerkind Conor Oberst managed to deftly slip his skinny little neck out from under The Set List's guillotine. Their sound made good use of space and tempo, mercifully sparing us Oberst's occasional Polyphonic-Spree-on-PCP tendencies. With prominent touches of pedal-steel and slide guitar, the set registered with a pleasantly genuine twang that surprisingly wasn't compromised by his sometimes twitchy, angst-ridden voice. It was a memorable performance wherein Bright Eyes' artfulness actually lived up to all the hoopla.


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