Album Reviews: Bright Eyes, James Blake, Say Hi

The People’s Key By Bright Eyes


After a fairly lengthy diversion into what he deemed “rootsy Americana shit” Conor Oberst and Bright Eyes are back. “The Peoples Key” is a pretty disjointed record with a lot of different and new sounds for Oberst. For me the standout track is the lively “Jejune Stars”, which features some pretty thrashing guitar and over the top power choruses. Despite all this, Oberst’s lyrics still are the star.

It’s just so bizarre all the things I’m afraid of
Why do I hide from the rain?

The influences seem to be all over the place in an effort to wash the taste of all that “americana shit” from his mouth. For example “Haile Selassie” is an almost psychedelic track with a thumping persistent drum and some bizarre rastafarian references(?). Also, their are these recurring interview snippets throughout the record with the likely insane musician Danny Brewer, who rambles on about everything from UFO’s to Pomegranates. I can’t really say what they add to the album artistically but I enjoyed them and I think more often than not they fit. For me the album was definitely a pleasant listen but had little that is gonna keep me coming back for further listens. I think the best example would be the track “Beginner’s Mind” which has all the elements I look for from Bright Eyes, but just suffers from a lack of pacing. It’s the type of song I wish would have had time to gradually build into it’s fairly anthemic chorus. Instead, Oberst just kind forges haphazardly ahead into the meat of the song without allowing the listener any time to really get their bearings and be set up for what is to come.  I feel as if the same thing can be said for the record as a whole.

Beginner’s Mind


Jejune Stars

The People’s Key: 3 out of 5.

James Blake

Never really listened to ‘dubstep’ (or really even fully understood what it was). Despite being hopelessly clueless on the subject, I couldn’t help but notice that this James Blake album kept popping up all over the music sections of the internet. Seemed like people had deemed that this was the album that really announced dubstep as a true genre with real ‘artists’, so it seemed like a good spot to start my dubstep crash course. After listening to James Blake, my take on what makes a song ‘dubstep’ seems to just be a heavy pulsing synthy beat, lots of drum machine and some autotune? I guess I was expecting something more danceable from this album, but I’m not sure why, considering my complete ignorance on the subject. The album seems to be this sort of sultry R&B electronica, along the lines of “JJ” or even “Discovery”, just monumentally less accessible. Seems like the type of thing a lot of people will put on a “make out” playlist. Not me though.

Willhelms Scream

James Blake: 1.5 out of 5

 

Um, Uh Oh By Say Hi

 

“Um, Uh Oh” is a (horribly named) slow paced, almost droning guitar rock record with fairly quirky lyricism. The vocals, delivered by front man Eric Elbogen are unique and fittingly soulful, but not drawn out and shoved down your throat. “Devils” is the star of the album for sure. It’s got a phat base and sparse but heavy instrumentation,  with lyrics that are delivered in a method so that it sounds like Elbogen is almost too close to the mic. The result is something that is intriguing but almost makes you uncomfortable at first.  I can’t put a finger on what it is, or why, but this ‘close talker’ method really fucking delivers. Maybe, it’s because demonic posession is a fairly intimate/creepy encounter? The most upbeat track is “Take Ya Dancin'”. It’s got that same everpresent growling base line, but the guitar breaks really brighten up the song and inject “Phoenixesque” poppyness to the album. Don’t overlook these guys, I liked this one.

Devils

Take Ya Dancin’

Um, Uh Oh: 3.5 out of 5


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