Thursday, March 8, 2007

Bright Eyes - Four Winds EP

Band: Bright Eyes
Album: Four Winds EP
Release Date: March 6, 2007
Label: Saddle Creek

The “Four Winds” EP is the precursor to the upcoming Cassadaga, which is set for release April 10. You can look forward to that review next month. Anyways, this six track EP has one song from the upcoming full-length and five b-sides. It is reassuring, that these five tracks that didn’t quite make the cut, are really quite enjoyable.

The first track, also the title track, “Four Winds,” provides a preview of what is to come from Cassadaga. It’s got the makings of a Conor Oberst protest song, minus any direct reference to our commander in chief. Several lines, in the song make it obvious, as Oberst calls up the three major holy books, “The Bible's blind, the Torah's deaf, the Qu'ran's mute / If you learn them all together you get close to the truth.” Along the other tracks on the EP “Four Winds” has a country twang to it, that sounds vaguely like “Santa Clause is Coming to Town” as the song begins.

The second track, and my personal favorite, “Reinvent the Wheel,” continues along the lines of a country or American sound, but is more of a showcase of Oberst’s ability to create a song with a pop sound, without alienating himself. There is certainly a case to be made that this song is an ode to Elliot Smith, who is one of Oberst’s influences. Next comes “Smoke Without Fire,” which unfortunately doesn’t have much of a compelling force at all, features brief vocals from the likes of M. Ward. It is however, characteristic of many Bright Eyes songs that have a very stripped down feeling to them.

“Stray Dog Freedom” is chockfull of coarse guitar riffs that sound plucked right from the 1970’s. This storyteller has even more of that wandering country feel to it and features Ben Kweller. “Cartoon Blues” is aptly named as the song is filled with a southern blues style. However, Oberst’s tortured voice just doesn’t fit the part. Lyrically, it lacks the fullness of “Four Winds” but provides a much more solid musical experience when compared to the vacant “Smoke Without Fire.”

The sixth and final track, “Tourist Trap,” provides a deliberate paced folk sound, but seems more like an empty shell of a song, almost unfinished. It is, however, becoming of the content of the song, this story paints a picture of an empty person who lacks vitality and can no longer feel at home.

Overall, the EP is worth your time. At first I found myself only enjoying the first two tracks, but soon I was enjoying the release as a whole. As I said before, this gets my hopes up for the up coming “Cassadaga.” If this is the collection of songs that didn’t make it, I hope that the full-length will be just bursting with favorites.

1 comment:

Hobb said...

If this is setting the stage for Cassadaga I'm pretty excited.