Saddle Creek | Bright Eyes | Reviews


I'm Wide Awake, It's Morning

Author: Charley Reed
12/09/2005 | UNO Gateway | | Album Review
With only three weeks left in the year, it is safe to say that this has been one of the best years in music for Omaha-based bands. Not since 1993, when the Omaha locals 311 released their first studio album Music, has there been a year when the 43rd largest city in the United States performed like it belonged in the top 10.

Back in the Saddle...Creek

The biggest and arguably most surprising breakthrough in Omaha-based music came at the beginning of the year when Conor Oberst, lead singer of Bright Eyes and the brainchild behind Saddle-Creek Records released a double-CD pack that included Digital Ash in a Digital Urn and I'm Wide Awake, It's Morning. Both released on January 25, 2005, the two albums debuted at number 15 and number 10 on the Billboard Music Charts respectively.

With Digitial Ash in a Digital Urn, Oberst focuses more on an electronic-based sound reminiscent of his days as a member of Norman Bailer, predecessor to the national indie powerhouse, The Faint. Songs like "Take it Easy (Love Nothing)" and "Gold Mine Gutted" if anything, solidify Oberst's status as one of the most talented and prodigal lyricists of this generation.

It was I'm Wide Awake, It's Morning, however, which gave Oberst his real success. The tracks "Lua" and "First Day of My Life" became radio staples on college campuses, not only in Nebraska, but around the world. Wide Awake was also the only of the two releases that was able to break in on the UK Charts, topping at number 23.

Most impressive however, was that Bright Eyes' two singles from the two releases, "Lua" and "Take it Easy (Love Nothing)" reached numbers one and two at the Billboard Top 100 Singles Charts, which was the first time the feat had been accomplished in almost eight years.

Also in 2005, Saddle Creek, the record label started by Oberst had it's biggest success to-date with new releases from its major staple artists: Cursive, Mayday, Son Ambulance, Broken Spindles, Azure Ray counterparts Maria Taylor and Orenda Fink, and possibly the next biggest Omaha success story: Criteria.

In August 2005, Criteria released their second studio album entitled When We Break, and has had enormous success around the country. The album was essentially created completely in the mind of front-man Steve Pedersen, who, after returning to Omaha from Duke Law School, spent six months of 2001 in a basement room writing. It was only after Pederson recruited a motley crew of local musicians that Criteria was truly formed and released En Garde from Pedersen's writings.

Pederson and Criteria's When We Break, the band's first release on the Saddle Creek label has been called "sophisticated emo" and songs like the group's first and to date, only single, "Prevent the World," help back up that claim. As of Nov. 16, Criteria began taking on the rest of the world with a European tour, playing dates in Cambridge, Glasgow, London, Frankfurt, Barcelona and Madrid.


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Cassadaga (Remastered)

Cassadaga (Remastered)

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