Bright Eyes, Cassadaga

From its conception Bright Eyes has been a vehicle for lead singer Conor Oberst, and the last time we heard from them, they ambitiously released two albums at once: I'm Wide Awake, It's Morning was a stripped down country affair while its oddball brother, Digital Ash in a Digital Urn, churned out cold digital beats. This time around Oberst solidifies Bright Eyes as a trio, featuring long-time tour mates Mike Mogis (multi-talented guitarist) and Nate Walcott (Piano, Organ). Their ninth album, Cassadaga, is rooted in traditional Americana, but the boys throw in some twists to make things interesting. For example "Make a Plan to Love Me" features some downtrodden doo-wop harmonies, "Hot Knives" sounds like a punk band going acoustic, and "Coat Check Dream Song" is a menacing march backed by hazy electronic bleeps. Oberst is also in top form, offering the listener some of his most poetic and thought provoking lyrics about love, politics, war and organized religion: "The Bible is blind/The Torah is deaf/The Qur'an is mute/If you burned them all together you'd get close to the truth." On 2002's Lifted, Oberst sneered "We used to think that sound was something pure" – and that sound of purity does exist, it's alive and well in one of this years most inspiring and thrilling experiences, Cassadaga. (Saddle Creek) Rating: 4 Out Of 5 Stars

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