While it remains to be seen whether or not Conor Oberst was serious about hanging up his Bright Eyes moniker, the wordy singer-songwriter has decided to revive his old side-project – Desaparecidos. The politically charged, punk-y hardcore band have only seen sparse action over the last decade since the release their lone studio album Read Music/Speak Spanish all the way back in 2002. This past summer Oberst dusted the band off, releasing the single MariKKKopa/Backsell, which took aim at Arizona’s controversial Sheriff Joe Arpaio and the state’s immigration laws, as well as taking them out for a short tour. Oberst has revealed that they will hit the road again early next year for a nine-date East Coast run, that kicks off on February 15 at the historic Stony Pony in Asbury Park.
If you’re not into a night with Conor’s side-project, then maybe you’ll be interested in hitting one of these recently announced tours…
Whether or not The People’s Key turns out to be Conor Oberst’s final album under his longtime Bright Eyes moniker remains to be seen. What we do know, is that the wordy singer-songwriter has changed directions a bit with the release of the first new BE album since 2007, eschewing his roots-Americana sound of the last few years for a more straight-ahead rock one.
Check out the proof with the video for Shell Games…
A few weeks back, Conor Oberst & The Felice Brothers teamed up for a California micro-tour leading up to their appearances at the Hardly Strictly Bluegrass festival in San Francisco. The shows featured the Felice Brothers pulling double-duty as the opening act, and backing Oberst – who mined his catalog playing a mix of Bright Eyes material and songs from his solo efforts.
After the release of Cassadaga in 2007, prolific singer-songwriter Conor Obert decided to put his Bright Eyes moniker on hold recording and releasing two albums under his own name with the Mystic Valley Band, as well as joining forces with Jim James, M. Ward and Mike Mogis to form the Monster Of Folk. Oberst is looking like he is now ready to revive Bright Eyes, which will likely be the last time, after telling Rolling Stone last year that he had plans to make one last album before retiring the project completely.
Last week the wordy songsmith, who over the last few months has been very outspoken about the new immigration laws passed in both Arizona and his home state of Nebraska, released his fist Bright Eyes song in three years called Coyote Song as an exclusive for The Sound Strike. The organization, which is calling for musicians to boycott playing gigs in Arizona, is currently selling the single for $2 to benefit The Florence Project – a nonprofit organization that provides free legal help to immigrants caught in the detention and deportation system in Arizona. Let’s check out the video…
Fresh off their much buzzed about sold out, two-night stand at MSG in New York, Montreal-based act the Arcade Fire have announced the details for their West Coast heavy fall tour. The indie-rock band, whose fourth studio album The Suburbs debuted at number one on the Billboard charts two weeks ago, will kick things off on Sept. 22 in St. Paul, MN at the Roy Wilkins Arena before heading across the border to Canada and back down the Pacific Coast for shows in Seattle, Portland, Berkley, Big Sur and a two-night run at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles, CA on October 7 and 8.
If you’re not into a night of sprawling, bombastic indie-rock than maybe you’ll be interested in hitting one of these recently announced tours…
Finally, with so many of different bands to choose from – Bright Eyes, Desaparecidos, Mystic Valley Band, Monsters Of Folk – prolific singer-songwriter Conor Oberst has decided to go a completely different route for his late September, California micro-tour. Oberst has recruited fellow Team Love label mates The Felice Brothers to serve not only as his opening act, but also as his backing band for his shows in Pioneeertown, Santa Barbara and Big Sur – which precedes both acts appearance at the 10th annual Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival at San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park.
With the list of musicians taking a stand against Arizona’s recently passed controversial immigration law SB 1070 by participating in The Sound Strike growing, two of the more vocal opponents of this controversial legislation will team up for a benefit concert to take place in L.A. On July 23, Rage Against The Machine, who are no strangers to these type things, will join up with Conor Oberst & The Mystic Valley Band to play the Hollywood Palladium.
Proceeds from the benefit show along with donations made directly to the organization are expected to exceed over $300,000 which will “provide much needed resources to community organizations, student groups, legal defense funds and assist activists targeting key voting districts for voter registration” against the law that is set to go into effect on July 29.
Finally, in what seems like a step towards The Beatles material finally getting a digital release, EMI Music will be reissuing 15 albums from the Fab Four’s label Apple Records this October. Of the albums that will be remastered and released on both CD and for the first time ever as digital downloads will be James Taylor’s self-titled debut, four albums from Badfinger, two from Billy Preston as well as more obscure material from likes of John Tavener, Doris Troy, Mary Hopkin and the Modern Jazz Quartet.
This year at Hidden Track, we concocted a little experiment for our year-end Best Albums of 2009 list. Instead of picking the old fashioned way – subjectively – we opted for something a little different: a collaborative, collective list that incorporates the opinions of everybody here at HT.
To begin, we devised an all-encompassing list of around 100 nominees and populated it in a Google spreadsheet – essentially anything that anybody who writes for Hidden Track liked at all, made the list. Then we invited our crew of writers to independently vote on the whole list (omitting anything unfamiliar) on a scale of 1 to 20 (20 = five stars). We ended up with 33 voters with varying degrees of familiarity with the nominees; some folks voted on just about everything, while some just a few. From there, we eliminated anything that did not receive at least three votes, calculated the average scores, and sorted it. We took the top 25 scores and presto: the Hidden Track 25 Best Albums of 2009. No bullshit, no big opinions; just the results.
Key Tracks: Stars Of Leo, Rave On, Never Had Nobody Like You
Sounds Like: An old antique photo
Skinny: In 2008 M. Ward seemed to take a backseat to doe-eyed actress Zooey Deschanel as the Him in vintage indie-pop act She & Him, but he was back in 2009 with his latest solo release, Hold Time. The album is full of everything we’ve come to expect from Matt over the years – modern indie-rock that is completely bathed in the patina of the last fifty-plus years of pop music. Combining his sepia-drenched vocals and open tuning guitar work with guest appearances from the aforementioned Deschanel, Lucinda Williams and Grandaddy’s Jason Lytle.
READ ON for the next four albums in our countdown…
With the first six months of 2009 beginning to feel like a distant memory, figured it was time to continue with a tradition we started last year around this time, by taking a look at my favorite albums from the first half of the year with a little something we’ve dubbed Top 6 Of The First 6.
Maybe I’m getting old, but this list is dominated by mainly roots and Americana-tinged albums, so for those of you expecting Animal Collective somewhere here you may be sorely disappoint. So let’s get at it…
Outer South may technically be Conor Oberst’s second “solo” release in as many years, but it would be hard to call this record a true solo effort. While Oberst’s prolific songwriting tendencies may rival that of Mr. Mandy Moore, his latest effort with the Mystic Valley Band is a collaborative affair, with band members contributing and singing their own songs often making you forget you’re listening to a record that has the wordy, singer-songwriter’s name attached to it. The album itself is chocked full of breezy, ’70s influenced country and folk-rock, mixed with the aughts indie-sensibility making it hard to avoid giving them the tag of an updated version of the Traveling Wilburys.
READ ON for the rest of Jeff’s Top 6 Of The First 6…
Back in 2004, the formidable trio of Conor Oberst, Jim James and M. Ward teamed up for a tour they dubbed Monsters Of Folk. Each artist delivered a solo set, where they often interpreted each others material, that often culminated with all three on stage at the end for some spirited covers and a mixed bag of the artists’ tunes. Earlier this year news surfaced that trio had plans to collaborate and record an album together. Well, the band’s debut effort now has a release date and will hit store shelves on September 22.
Finally, Several months after hordes of Bruce Springsteen fans were up in arms after seemingly being being shut out of The Boss’ recent IZOD Center shows, the Newark Star-Ledger went digging for the truth about how so many premium seats ended up on the secondary market so quickly – which may or may not be so surprising. The reporter discovered that “1,126 seats in the four sections closest to the stage, but only 108 of those tickets were ever for sale to the public…In all, 2,262 seats were held back from public sale, for the band, its record company and agent and the New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority…that number represents about 12 percent of the total.”
We don’t get a chance to talk too much hip hop around these parts, but in our relentless effort to keep you up to date on the summer concert season, we bring you the news of the lineup announcement for the sixth annual Rock The Bells tour. The all-day traveling fest, which will hit ten cities, is set to feature an impressive roster of acts including the likes of Nas & Damien “Jr. Gong” Marley, The Roots, Common, K’NAAN and Reflection Eternal.
If you’re not into an all day hip hop festival, than maybe you’ll want to hit one of these recently announced tours…
Finally, Eddie Vedder will head out for a slew of solo dates on the East Coast and in the southern part of the US. The 14 date run will find the Pearl Jam front man setting up shop at a variety of theaters for multi-night stands in Albany, Philly, Baltimore, Nashville, Memphis, Atlanta and Hawaii.
North Carolina based indie-label Merge Records has a big 2009 planned to celebrate their 20th anniversary. The label, which is home to acts like Neutral Milk Hotel, She & Him, Arcade Fire and Spoon, is rolling out a box set of material that includes 14 curated compilation CDs, a remix album and a covers comp that features non-Merge artists covering songs from the Merge catalog. In addition to all this they will also celebrate with a five-day festival dubbed XX Merge that will take place from July 22 – 25 with four nights of shows at Cat’s Cradle and a final night at Memorial Hall in Chapel Hill.
Already on board to perform are label founders Superchunk, M. Ward, Spoon, Conor Oberst, the Broken West, and Destroyer, with more artists both “expected” and “unexpected” to be added in the coming weeks.
If you can’t make it down to Carolina for what should be an amazing five days, than maybe you’ll be able to hit one of these recently announced tours…
Finally, Carlos Santana has signed an exclusive deal with the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino to become Las Vegas’s first rock artist to have a residence show. The legendary guitar-slinger will hold court at The Joint through 2010 with a show called Supernatural Santana: A Trip Through the Hits and will be the only place to catch the band west of the Mississippi through 2010.
With five years between his last two studios albums it came as a bit of a surprise to most that Bob Dylan slyly announced the release of the follow up to Modern Times to be released later this month – causing music pundits to anoint this as another “creative period” for the legendary singer-songwriter. Dylan’s 33rd studio album Together Through Life, to be released on April 28, is said to have “a seductive border-café feel” thanks in part to the accordion work of Los Lobos’ David Hidalgo.
The album is currently available for pre-order through Zimmy’s website, where you can also grab a free download of the album’s first track Beyond Here Lies Nothin’. In other Dylan news, the hard-touring bard is rumored to once again be touring minor league ballparks this summer with Willie Nelson and John Mellencamp.
Finally, Amanda Palmer – one half of the cabert-punk act The Dresdan Dolls – is trying everything in her power to get her current label Roadrunner Records – home to hard rock and metal acts like Slipknot and Nickelback – to drop her. Palmer, who released her solo debut Who Killed Amanda Palmer last fall, debuted a new song at a recent tour stop in Fort Laurderdale dedicated to her current label bluntly called Please Drop Me. The song which is set to the music of Moon River included explicitly direct lyrics – Please drop me/I don’t fit on your roster/I’m tired of this pointless shit/Please drop me/What do I have to do/I’m tired of sucking corporate dick. Ouch, but do you blame her for wanting out of a label that is home to Nickelback?
Earlier this week the HT Staff picked their favorite albums of ’08, when we gathered Around The Barbecue. To continue on our year-end house cleaning, we’ve got another list. Back in early July I dropped my Top 6 Of The First 6 list, and since we’re not ones for traditional Top Ten around these parts I figured I’d revisit that format to round out the year’s releases.
The second half of the year saw releases from a number of my favorite artists, many of which made it on this list. So let’s get to my favorite six albums that were released in the last six months of 2008…
This album was a late discovery for me – despite its July release. I literally picked it up several weeks back after hearing it mentioned on NPR during All Songs Considered’s Year In Music show and haven’t been able to stop listening to it since. Blind Pilot have taken the White Stripes/Black Keys minimalist band model of guitarist and drummer and unplugged it – though live they play with a nine-piece band. The Portland, OR duo’s debut is chocked full of strummy, lush indie-folk that would provide the perfect Sunday morning soundtrack and has helped to cement the Pacific Northwest’s stronghold on producing some of the best albums of the year.
READ ON for Some Dude’s top five releases of the second half of ’08…
Earlier this week I was able to score a last minute ticket to Conor Oberst’s long sold out, intimate gig at New York City’s Bowery Ballroom. The prolific singer-songwriter, better known by his recording alter ego Bright Eyes, used the show as a showcase for songs off his recently released self-titled solo “debut”. Backed by the Mystic Valley Band, Oberst tore through his hour and a half set bringing his new material to life.
While his solo tunes still have elements of his brand of indie-folk, they have a personality of their own that lean more towards a rock sound. Choice cuts of the night included Sausalito, Danny Callahan and I Don’t Want To Die (In The Hospital) – definitely the most Bright Eyes sounding tune on the new album – as well great covers of Corrina, Corrina and Harry Nilsson’s Everybody’s Talkin’. Conor’s also released his first music video from the album, check out Souled Out…
Oberst continues his worldwide tour , which concludes back in New York for two shows at Terminal 5, with a stop at this weekend’s Saratoga Music Festival that will feature the likes of Bob Dylan, Levon Helm and Gillian Welch.
Back in February the surviving members of the Grateful Dead (sans Mr. Kreutzmann) put aside their difference and reunited on stage for a fund raiser for Barack Obama. Well, as we enter the months leading up to Election Day other half of the bands rhythm section, Mickey Hart, spilled the news to Billboard that the band is “ready to be of service” once again to the Junior Senator from Illinois. Reportedly Hart and his estranged band mates have exchanged “a few friendly e-mails” on the subject, but nothing is set in stone.