New Album Review


This review can also be seen in the latest issue of The Technician.


Conor Oberst got his big break as singer-songwriter and guitarist of Bright Eyes and has since moved on to other musical projects, including Desaparecidos. Formed in 2000, Desaparecidos demonstrates a subtle maturation in Oberst’s lyrics, transitioning from teenage melancholy to focused, politically charged angst. Payola is the first album from Desaparecidos released in more than a decade, but the band definitely hasn’t lost any of their edge since 2002′s Read Music/Speak Spanish

Pounding drums and rapid guitar drive Payola, along with Oberst’s familiar melodic vocals. And with his philosophical musings, Oberst presents his anger in the form of criticisms of government. In the album’s first song “The Left Is Right,” he sings “If one must die to save the 99/ Maybe it’s justified/ The left is right/ We’re doomed,” which is a direct reference to the Occupy Wall Street political slogan “We are the 99 Percent.” With the band name chosen in remembrance of those of lower financial status who disappeared after being arrested at the hand of military dictatorships, it’s no surprise that the 2013 single “Anonymous” closes the album with a hate message of unrest about control and the wealth gap: “Can’t live today off that minimum wage unless you sleep on the factory floor.” Oberst screams his explicit disgust toward the economy, comparing the United States government to George Orwell’s Big Brother. Payola finishes as a punk rock album with Oberst targeting government, shouting “We’re the Tattletale/ We’ll see your All-Seeing-Eye in hell.”

Favorite Tracks: “Golden Parachutes”, “Backsell”, “Marikkkopa”, “Te Amo Camila Vallejo”

– Julie Smitka, WKNC Blog Editor

Concert Review

Show Review: Conor Oberst at the Warner Theatre

Sitting just three blocks from the White House in downtown D.C. is the extravagant and elegant Warner Theatre. Never had I imagined getting the chance to see the notable Conor Oberst, let alone at such a remarkable venue. This had to be one of the most memorable Thursday nights I have experienced in quite a while, which made the four and a half hour journey to get there all the more worth it.

Opening up for Conor Oberst was Daniel Johnston, a legend himself. A shaky performance by the well-known artist was much appreciated by the entire crowd. He ended his set with the great “True Love Will Find You in the End.”
Although best known for his band, Bright Eyes, Conor Oberst’s music career also includes Monsters of Folk, Desaparecidos, and Conor Oberst and the Mystic Valley Band. Even though on a solo tour, Conor played songs from almost every one of these bands. One might think that the lack of variety in instruments and voices that normally accompany him would take away from the overall quality of the show; however, none of these were really missed and it’s what made for a truly special performance. His emotional vocals filled the entire theatre as the audience sat and listened to songs such as “Milk Thistle,” “Land Locked Blues,” “June On The West Coast,” “Map Of The World,” and of course “Lua.” He would stop once in a while to explain how he wrote the preceding song when he was fifteen years old and how it made him feel slightly embarrassed. This made me remember an interview where he stated that he does not usually play these old songs, which made this particular performance even better.

Conor Oberst on stage

He also played a couple new songs. One he dedicated to his brother’s second child and the other told the story of an old friend. It was these personal connections and his lyrical improvisations that kept the crowd captivated creating a truly memorable night. His two-hour performance was all I had expected and more.

The good news is that everyone in the triangle can experience some Conor Oberst magic for them selves in February when he stops by the Cat’s Cradle on the 17th with his band, Desaparecidos.