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23 of 23 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Goin' to Cassadaga!
Although the past month-and-a-half has been full of decent music releases, I still find myself extremely cautious when it comes to purchasing a new CD - especially when it's a musician/band that I've never heard before. Even those that seem popular (Fall Out Boy's Infinity on High), or those you think you would like (Grindhouse: Planet Terror/Death Proof soundtracks) can...
Published on April 19, 2007 by amerdale876

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13 of 16 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars don't get this version
Although this is the "UK" version, don't be fooled. This is the exact same album as the cheaper one released in the U.S. There is a special decoder in that one to decode all the gray mess on the album artwork. False advertising. But the album is REALLY GOOD. Just get the cheaper one and save yourself some dough.
Published on April 28, 2007 by Jamie


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23 of 23 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Goin' to Cassadaga!, April 19, 2007
This review is from: Cassadaga (Audio CD)
Although the past month-and-a-half has been full of decent music releases, I still find myself extremely cautious when it comes to purchasing a new CD - especially when it's a musician/band that I've never heard before. Even those that seem popular (Fall Out Boy's Infinity on High), or those you think you would like (Grindhouse: Planet Terror/Death Proof soundtracks) can be very disappointing. So, I often try to discover new music and do a lot of searching for musicians who I haven't heard before. From my latest search, I heard about Nebraska's own Conor Oberst and his band Bright Eyes, and their new release, Cassadaga. Regardless that this album had received mostly good reviews, I remained objectively cautious and did as much researching as possible before I decided to give them a try.

I had read all the comparisons of Oberst to Bob Dylan and comments on how inventive Oberst is with his music and lyrics. So, with that, I decided to lay down the $10 and pop Cassadaga into my CD player. Before even listening, one can't help but notice the alubm cover which there's more to than you think. Inside the sleeve there's a "spectral decoder" (like something you might find in a Cracker Jack box) which is already laid over a part of the sleeve where you can read "These myths are sacred and profane!" Interesting. I took out the decoder and moved it around the entire album cover and inside sleeves, seeing pictures and various odd quotes which I thought was a really cool concept and wondered why no other artist's had done this before.

The first track, "Clairaudients (Kill or Be Killed)" starts off with a weird voiceover/recording of a woman prattling on about traveling to Cassadaga, Florida, played over music one might hear in a horror movie. Two minutes and twenty seconds into the song, Oberst bursts in with his lyrics, sounding more like a Leonard Cohen song than one of Dylan's ilk. Right away I can spot Oberst's talent with songwriting, however, "Clairaudients" so far is my least favorite track on the album, which is tricky to start off an album with such a mediocre beginning. I like Leonard Cohen and Oberst's vocals, but the woman's recording is simply too much of a distraction from the actual music. After an outro of more of the weird woman's recording, the second song "Four Winds" begins with a heavy violin, mandolin and guitars. Most people who review this song say it has a heavy country influence to it. I disagree. This song is all Irish folk/pop (think The Pogues) with the singer making references to religion and a lyric ("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") that makes the listener know that Oberst means business when it comes to songwriting and getting his point across.

Next, my favorite track, "If the Brakeman Turns My Way," is when we start to hear the heavy Dylan-like music. But this isn't your 60's folk-y Dylan. This is Dylan in the '80s - but with lyrics that are just as morally significant and poetic. I especially like the lyrics "Got a cricket for a conscience always looks the other way" and "I never thought of running/My feet just led the way." It's a song that talks in a roundabout way about faith (I wonder if the "Brakeman" is Oberst's other name for God) and finding a way to be comfortable with yourself and life. And Bright Eyes sets the tone for the album with this one. Track four is "Hot Knives," which is slightly harder in music and in lyrics, but still has that sound of Irish folk bordering on rebel music, but with strings too. The singer starts off singing from the point-of-view of a wife confronting her husband's mistress and then goes on a spiritual journey to start anew.

"Make a Plan to Love Me" has been described as a song with orchestra that sounds as if it could be played at some 1950s high school dance and that is a great way to put it. With female backup singers (among them the beautiful, talented Rachael Yamagata, who not only has put out a few of her own albums, but has also sang backup for the likes of Ryan Adams, Jason Mraz, Rhett Miller and Ray LaMontagne) that sound like 50's groups The Teddy Bears ("To Know Him is to Love Him") and The Paris Sisters ("I Love How You Love Me"), Bright Eyes sings of a desperate man who pleads with and asks the woman he loves to at least try and love him. While this song may come off creepy to some, the lyrics reveal that this man has a reason to be taking the approach he does as the object of his affection "first want(s) to ride off into the Sun/Then you want to shoot straight to the Moon." Again, this song is different from its predecessors and it's nice to hear an album made up of extreme eclecticism. The next song, "Soul Singer in a Session Band," brings back the heavy Dylan-like sound, but this time sounding like mid- to late-70's Dylan (when he was with The Band) with some undertones of honky-tonk piano thrown in. The title explains the absurdity of such a talented singer singing backup in a minor band and that's how the Oberst feels as he belts out lyrics like "I was a hopeless romantic, now I'm just turning tricks." He feels lost and this is his poetic response to his station in life.

"Classic Cars" is probably my second favorite on the album and features Gillian Welch on backup vocals, sounding 90% folk/pop and 10% country. "Cars" speaks of a woman who the singer once had a fling with but the relationship ended. As the song comes to a close, the singer gives us a glimpse into the downfall of the relationship as he advises to "never trust a heart that is so bent it can't break." This is a track that has to be heard to be appreciated and my only complaint is that the song isn't long enough. The eighth song is "Middleman," with a sound mix of Tim Buckley and Ryan Adams, and featuring woodwinds with a single violin throughout that comes off sounding like bluegrass folk but not your stereotypical bluegrass.

The woodwinds continue (and feature much more prominently) on "Cleanse Song" with Oberst working his acoustic guitar to poetic lyrics dealing with life and how all of its sorrows will pass. It's a jumpy song and the shortest on the album at about three-and-a-half minutes. "No One Would Riot for Less" is a silent, slow song of apocalyptic proportions with lyrics like "So love me now/Hell is coming/Kiss my mouth/Hell is here." It's got a dark feel to it and isn't as noticeable a song as the rest on the album, even though at a little over five minutes, you can tell Oberst wants it to be noticed. This continues on to "Coat Check Dream Song" with slide guitar and ending with weird Hindu chanting. I give Oberst bonus points for working in The Hague into a song as well as very well-done poetic descriptions, but it still makes this song easy to forget.

Luckily, Bright Eyes romps us back into motion with "I Must Belong Somewhere." With heavy organ and mandolin, "Somewhere" is a knee-jumping limerick ode to Oberst finally beginning to realize where he belongs. It changes from the dark tones of "No One" to a hopeful, new beginning, and, by this point, I'm only happy to smile along with Oberst as he chooses to stay in the place he's grown to love. The last track, "Lime Tree," returns the tempo to slow (although, not dark) but continues the message of Oberst finally taking that first step toward his happiness in a place he chooses to be. Of course, he references with deeply profound metaphor, singing, "Everything gets smaller now the further that I go/Towards the mouth and the reunion of the Known and the Unknown/Consider yourself lucky if you think of it as home/You can move mountains with your misery if you don't." He even ends the song abruptly with a lyric one might imagine Henry David Thoreau singing: "I took off my shoes and walked into the woods/I felt lost and found with every step I took."

Cassadaga certainly is a road trip of the soul for Oberst. Luckily, he takes unabashedly brings us along for the ride. And like any road trips when you were young (and not so aware of the world), it takes a while for the true meaning of the experience to sink in. That's how I feel about Bright Eyes' Cassadaga. The only thing you should be sure about before purchasing this album is that it's not a rock album, it's not your David Gray-sounding album, and it's definitely not a pop album. It's a genre that's so hard to put into words because it mixes a bit of every instrument and voice. Oberst can sound like Cohen first, then transition into a bit of John Lennon or Dougie MacLean before going into Dylan. Oberst proves that he's a true musician and dips his feet in all kinds of genres. I like it, though. It's nice and refreshing and something I definitely want to pop in my CD player while on my long commutes to work.
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14 of 17 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars THE POWER OF MYTH, April 17, 2007
This review is from: Cassadaga (Audio CD)
Alright, so Conor Oberst is 27 years old now. Will I stop calling him a kid then? Probably not. I don't mean to slight him in any way. I mean, the kid's (see) amazing. Did you have your own record label when you were 14? No, I didn't think so.

I've been listening to the "Four Winds" cd single everyday since it came out. Just biding my time until the new Bright Eyes album "CASSADAGA" fell into my hands yesterday. I've been foaming at the mouth for it.

Anyway, my thoughts about "Cassadaga"? Historically there are 3 "types" of Bright Eyes songs.

1)Songs of immediacy that hit you right away with hooks, melodies, lyrics and a charm that's undeniable.

2)Songs of enduring power with gifts that only reveal themselves after the listener has "endured" several listens (these are the best ones).

3)Songs of head-scratching befuddlement that you may never appreciate no matter how many times you try to find something redeeming about it. There's one of these on every Bright Eyes album and it always cracks me up to see everyone reach for the skip button at the same time. It's usually the first song wherein Conor tries to set the mood by irritating the hell out of you.

"Cassadaga" of course has all three types of songs on them. I expect a lot of ink to be expended suggesting that a more mature Conor has emerged here. Rubbish! The kid was writing pretty grown-up stuff when he was 16. Besides men don't mature. At best they just get more adept at hiding the failure of their development.

I guess the most mature thing about "Cassadaga" is that Conor has become masterful in applying his encyclopedic knowledge of roots, country, & blues to his own unique vision. Check out the mandolin & violin on "Four Winds" and tell me that's not beautifully controlled chaos.

Janet Weiss (the hammer in Sleater-Kinney) plays drums on a few tracks here but you wouldn't know it because it sounds exactly how Conor arranged it to sound. There is a kind of pop in Bright Eyes' country that has an almost mystical Zeppelin quality to it (in mythic feeling,not in sound). A cleansing rain to Wilco's foggy foreboding.

It's entirely possible that this may eventually become my favorite Bright Eyes record. The songs are all strong (although "Make A Plan To Love Me" is a category 3 for me). It's obvious from the start that you'll need to spend some time courting this album, but as far as first date kisses go, this one's pretty great.

My girlfriend hates his voice. I don't get that. How does someone who loves Johnny Cash, & Willie Nelson fail to hear the intensity in Oberst. Is that a blasphemous comparison? I don't think so. I hear the same passion and conviction in "If The Brakeman Turns Away" as I do in "Rock Island Line" or "Funny How Time Slips Away". When Conor sings it...I buy it. Especially when his lyrics are so bloody brilliant!

My two favorite lines (so far) are in the same song, "Soul Singer In A Session Band"...

"You mean nothing to no one but that is nobody's fault."

and...

"I had a lengthy discussion about The Power Of Myth...with a post-modern author who didn't exist...in this fictitious world all reality twists...I was a hopeless romantic...now I'm just turning tricks"

Seriously...COME ON!?! When has anybody so deftly (or otherwise) worked Bill Moyers into a rock (or otherwise) lyric? The album is packed with gifted verse and a sonic landscape worthy of them.

"Cassadaga" promises to be an endlessly rewarding experiance. It's a good thing too. I didn't last a week with the new Stooges!

*************************************************************************

10/30/07

P. Gereau,

Thanks for your comment. Since Amazon views me as dangerously opinionated and "hectoring" they are preventing me from posting comments. So I must edit the review and tag a reply at the end.

My reason for giving this four stars is because I found the songs "Claireaudients", "Make a Plan To Love Me", and "Lime Tree" a bit lacking. He could have replaced those with any of the bonus songs fom the Four Winds CD single as far as I'm concerned.

The way I look at it four stars is still excellent. I give five stars when I can find no fault in a work. I love Bright Eyes, but I think they've only released one 5-Star album. That would be "Lifted".

Of course that's just my opinion. Despite what Amazon thinks, I'm entitled to it.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Old Soul, December 9, 2007
This review is from: Cassadaga (Audio CD)
After experiencing his own `dark night of the soul' Conor Oberst went through a period of introspection and transition. Cassadaga is a result of this process, and the album clearly has a spiritual dimension.
It opens with the voice of a clairvoyant advising the inquirer to spend some time in Cassadaga, a small town in Florida, inhabited by an unusual high percentage of psychics. This opening has been characterized by many as New Age nonsense, but is in fact essential, as it opens a window on the album's landscape: "Casadaga may be just a premonition of a place that you're going to visit..." Oberst uses the name as a metaphor for a process of growing awareness. Key words are: journey, transformation, change, new era. He explores this mystic world with healthy scepticism, but also with empathy and sincere interest. One must separate the wheat from the chaff, but at the same time be careful not to throw out the baby with the bath water! Cassadaga is full of references to spiritual matters. You can look upon the album as it being merely a collection of beautiful popsongs, but in a broader perspective they form a unity and a concept, and they can be seen as reflections of a process of liberation and self-realization.

Our world is a grim place: "It's kill or be killed!" Conor Oberst paints a world of shallow erntertainment and blind fundamentalism, a world full of `Peter Pan's. Many sell their souls (Soul Singer), sacrifice love to greed (Make a Plan to Love Me), or choose an existence of grey mediocrity (Middleman). Classic Cars tells of lost love, and Coat Check Dream Song shows the twisted mind of the terrorist. The skyscrapers on Manhattan, the financial heart and soul of western civilisation, are `the new pyramids', symbols of an Empire which ended on 9/11 (Cleanse Song). Death hides in many and unexpected corners, and we'd better not waste our precious time (No One Would Riot For Less). "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" is another pregnant statement. Institutionalized religions offer no solutions anymore, we must start from scratch and find our own truth. The brilliant Four Winds leans on one of the most beautiful poems of W.B.Yeats - The Second Coming - with one big difference: Yeats talks about the rise of the evil and destructive powers which threatened the world in the first half of the last century, while Conor Oberst refers to the powers of Good, which will gain space to manifest themselves where Evil has collapsed. Yeats's `gyre' of history has reached it's widest stretch and will collapse, the centre cannot hold any longer: "And when Great Satan's gone... the Whore of Babylon... she just can't remain with all that outer space, she breaks... she caves." Opposites are a theme in the album, and by reversing the meaning of Yeats's poem Oberst creates a new balance, and in doing so he promotes an optimistic view of life in spite of all evil in our current world. "Awake, Baby awake, but leave that blanket around you, there's nowhere as safe..." The message is clear: wake up, but keep going inward (the blanket imo being a metaphor for meditation), stay with your Self, that's the only safe place! The solution to all our problems lies within us, and our ultimate task is finding unconditional love and compassion within ourselves. Only then the history of this planet will turn for the better. The message is not new, it is spread by all great religions and gnosticism, but religions are frozen solid in dogma's and inconsistent behaviour, and do not appeal to most people any longer. It's up to us now!

In I Must Belong Somewhere Oberst speaks of accepting the world as it ís; in this world everything has it's place, and we should no longer resist to whatever we cannot change, because our resistance causes our negative attitude. Our meddling is pure arrogance, for: "... the world requires no audience, no witnesses..." We must surrender to The Greater Scheme, the continuous evolution of the universe, a process which is beyond our comprehension. It means living in the here and now, fully aware, and with a compassionate heart. This submission to the Infinite (or Divine for religious believers) Plan obviously originates from buddhism, but is also elemental in, and in fact connects, all main religious philosophies. Insight and submission (enlightenment) are hindered by our daily worries and problems, our cravings and our denial (Lime Tree). Oberst has seen glimpses of liberation, knows that all ado grows smaller the more one enters the Unknown (which is in fact the Known, as this cosmic knowledge lies buried in all of us, we only have to rediscover it). Submission takes place, there is distancing from those who are `pleased with a daydream', and surrender to the Unknown, as is illustrated by the last lines of the album: "I took off my shoes and walked into the woods, I felt lost and found with every step I took."

Oberst' lyrics take my breath away. And the music offers a perfect bedding for those lyrics, as is shown right from the beginning where the voice is surrounded by a swirling vortex of sounds which draws you within. The rising and fading sounds seem a reference to the elemental movements of every particle in our universe: expanding and shrinking, arising and passing away. It is the endless movement Yeats refers to with his `gyres', and Oberst with `as the spiral unwinds.' Circles and cycles often appear in the lyrics, like opposites they are spiritual symbols. Multi-layered lyrics combined with a strong, attractive and supporting production create an artistic unity that is exceptional in the least, especially considering the singer's young age.

In an interview with a Dutch magazine Conor Oberst remarks: "The album is neither about a quest nor about the town of Cassadaga. I like to think Cassadaga reflects the feeling I experienced when returning from there: authenticity, peace of mind. Ever since I was there I feel I no longer carry any suffering with me." Isn't that what we all would wish: peace of mind and liberation from suffering? It is what buddhists call enlightenment - if it is permanent - and temporary glimpses may be a big step towards this enviable state. Oberst also says: "I would like to see my songs interpreted in a million different ways. Then the magic of music stays intact." I agree with him there. Observing the album from a spiritual view is just one way of interpreting it. But even the packaging of the CD seems to indicate we should put on different glasses and look for the invisible: the textbook shows a grey cover, apart from a few twisting lines. But when you place the enclosed focal decoder on the cover it turns out a world is hidden behind the grey! Cassadaga, and all its implications, only becomes visible through different eyes. I don't think Conor Oberst would ever do anything at random in his work. I think every detail has its meaning!

Cassadaga is an awe-inspiring album. With every spin it reveals more of its richness, and Oberst has firmly placed himself among the few Gods who reign from the top of my musical Olympus. After the equally monumental Lifted - Or the Story Is In the Soil, Keep Your Ear To the Ground, his much more accessible I'm Wide Awake It's Morning was a slight disappointment to me, even though that album certainly exceeds the average. I hope his future work will continue to be of the same outstanding quality as Lifted -... and Cassadaga.
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13 of 16 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars don't get this version, April 28, 2007
By 
Jamie (Chicago, IL) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Cassadaga (Audio CD)
Although this is the "UK" version, don't be fooled. This is the exact same album as the cheaper one released in the U.S. There is a special decoder in that one to decode all the gray mess on the album artwork. False advertising. But the album is REALLY GOOD. Just get the cheaper one and save yourself some dough.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Exceptional, April 15, 2007
This review is from: Cassadaga (Audio CD)
For a good couple of years, I've heard a lot of hype about Bright Eyes (essentially Conor Oberst) and how fantastic they(he) were (was). I had never purchased, nor listened to an album by Bright Eyes, so I couldn't pass judgement because of a lack of knowledge. I got a few promotional downloads from Bright Eyes's 2005 releases (DIGITAL ASH IN A DIGITAL URN & I'M WIDE AWAKE, IT'S MORNING), and I was only slightly impressed. I never heard the complete album of either, but I read a number of mixed reviews. It made me apprehensive to give the so penned "singer-songwriter of the future" a real chance. However, after reading generally favorable reviews of 27-year old Oberst's latest Bright Eyes project, CASSADAGA, I couldn't resist the temptation to purchase the reasonably price album and determined if I was a Bright Eyes fan or not. Honestly, CASSADAGA really impressed me and made me a believer in what Oberst pens in his lyrics and sings vocally. Sure, he isn't the best singer, but neither is Bob Dylan, but his lyrics are quite telling and perhaps that's what most important in a singer-songwriter.

The album opens up with the incredibly mysterious orchestration of "Clairaudients (Kill or Be Killed)". The mysterious mood lingers for a couple of minutes into the track before Oberst ever sings a note or the song establishes a groove. Once you fight past all the oddities, the "meat" of the track is worth the wait. The hook, is certainly tuneful, with the central message being "kill or be killed". Oberst's lyrics are taut,confident, and telling. Sure, "Clairaudients" odd string crescendos and "unruly" harmonies are a bit hard to grasp, but "Clairaudients" proves to be an exceptional opener, and paves the way for the even better proceeding track, "Four Winds".

"Four Winds" sounds like it could've been feature on a country-traditionalist album with its "fiddle" laced production work, and it's inherent bluesy feel. Oberst pulls this track off better than "Clairaudients". No, he isn't vocally the strongest singer, but his lyrics and the exceptional songwriting make up for any slack where vocal perfection is concerned. The hook here is incredibly catchy and coupled with the infectious fiddle riffs, "Four Winds" is definitely one of 2007's best tracks. "If The Brakeman Turns My Way" begins with Oberst only accompanied with acoustic piano, and then sparse organ, pedal steel, and bass lines lead into a full-on drum groove. It proves to be another killer track. The lyrics are as strong as ever and everything seems to be settled into a groove. The background vocals add a nice touch during the chorus, proving how versatile Oberst is as a songwriter and musician.

"Hot Knives" is perhaps my favorite from CASSADAGA. The songwriting is top notch, where Oberst apparently channels a female character. The guitar work here is fabulous, and one can't forget the power of the lyrics ("the son of God, hanging like a common criminal" or the blunt "So I've made love, yeah, I've been f**ked"). Which ever obscure lyric is chosen, it is masterful, which in makes "Hot Knives" one of the strongest performances of CASSADAGA. "Make A Plan To Love" continues the line of hits, with beautiful background vocals (including Rachel Yamagata among others)and simple, but yet complex production (Oberst wants you to make inferences). "Soul Singer In A Session Band" and "Classic Cars" also prove strong, as does "Middleman", in which more country influence shows.

The last couple of numbers ("Cleanse Song", "No One Would Riot for Less", "Coat Check Dream Song", "I Must Belong Somewhere" and "Lime Tree") are fine, but not as strong as the first eight tracks. "Coat Check Dream Song" is perhaps the strongest of the last five, even though it doesn't quite rival say "Hot Knives". Despite a slight fall off of the end of the album, Bright Eyes has clearly proved his point to me that he just might possibly be the "Bob Dylan" of the new generation. He is a great lyricist and musician, and he isn't a terrible vocalist, if not the greatest. This album isn't perfect, but for the most part it is right on point for me. 4 stars, Conor!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Simply great music, April 18, 2007
This review is from: Cassadaga (Audio CD)
I think this album is really good, no it's rather outstanding. I have all the other of his albums and I love this maybe the most. As I'm not a native speaker I can't really judge the lyrics but I think they're great as well. I love to listen to the music and read the lyrics in the meantime.

This CD is well produced, sounds good but still has some egde that makes it special. What I mean it's not polished.

I can understand if someone doesn't like Connor's voice. For me, I'm loving it. I don't know it has something that makes me feel the he must be a nice person but I can't really explain that. It's a feeling that I have with Neil Young or Ben Harper for instance.

So all I can say is that this is great music and I think this will be among the favourites of a lot of people this year. This album delivered much more than I thought it could.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Am I the only one not mesmerized by this album?, June 1, 2007
This review is from: Cassadaga (Audio CD)
I count Lifted as one of my Top Five Desert Island albums, have whiled away many a leafy afternoon with I'm Wide Awake, and was looking forward to Cassadaga.

However, I find it to be lacking in the spontaneity and sound of feeling that he's given in his earlier works. Maybe he's not as angst-filled as he once was. Anyway, this album seems too polished, too boring sounding, even the lyrics leave me cold.

I give it three stars because it's a technically good album, but no more because I honestly haven't listened to it since the first few go rounds. Maybe it will be plundered for mix fodder, there are a few enjoyable tracks to pull out.

Let's hope he stops overproducing on the next offering.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Bright Eyes' Best, Deepest Album Yet, May 5, 2007
This review is from: Cassadaga (Audio CD)
I've listened to the CD somewhere between 25 and 30 times, and I've yet to tire of it. "Cleanse Song" is probably my favorite; "Brakeman" "Classic Cars" are close seconds. Also, I used "Four WInds" in a religion project, mainly to piss off my fanatically Catholic teacher.

Things I noticed about the album: Bright Eyes' voice sounds clearer; he is more articulate now than in any previous album...The lyrics are more mature than before...The songs have a gentler feel, probably because the style strays more toward country than before
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Recorded With Concern, and a Peaceful Restlesness, October 15, 2007
By 
This review is from: Cassadaga (Audio CD)
Among lyricists, Conor Oberst is in a class of his own, in his ability to distill a wide range of human experiences into poignant lyrics that manage to characterize the very essence of struggle. Cassadega is a record that showcases the bright side of angst, meaning concern. And great is Oberst's concern, in this record, for the welfare of just about everyone: those who love, those who cannot understand why they are not loved, those who pray, those who would like to pray, but cannot bring themselves to believe in the existence of any entity worth praying to. In the song Lime Tree, Conor Sings, "Everything gets smaller now, the further that I go / Toward the mouth and the reunion of the known and the unknown. / Consider yourself lucky, if you think of it as home," questioning the fruitfulness of introspection for perhaps the first time in Folk Music since early Jackson Browne. Conor's new live-performance image as a southern cult leader is hard to villainize, after listening to this prophetic record.

Perhaps the best song on Cassadega is "Hot Knives," an all-too-revealing tour through the psyche of a woman with a complete inability to evaluate the elements of her life from a truly individualistic ego, instead subscribing to various brands of sophistic nonsense. In this song, we see angst working on the side of good, which perhaps could be the most accurate theme to attribute to the entire album. Cassadaga's weak songs, specifically the lyrically-thin "Make a Plan to Love Me," and the necrotically somber faux-gothic "No One Would Riot For Less," would be the best songs on the albums of lesser bands, and its best songs, such as "Hot Knives," and "If The Brakeman Turns My Way" are positively transcendent. One caveat is that many of these songs may depress the listener, by conveying the feelings of homelessness explicated in "Soul Singer..." This music is more of an exercise in breadcrumb-following than foundation-digging. But it beats the hell out of all the breadcrumb-scrambling going on in mainstream music!
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Bright Eyes, Yes!!!, April 27, 2007
By 
Eddie Wannabee (Western Hemisphere) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Cassadaga (Audio CD)
I have reviewed a couple of albums by Bright Eyes. The first one I believe was Fevers and Mirrors or something to that effect. I found him intriguing at best and a little boring at worst. But there was something promising, like you don't want to discount the artist yet. So I said to myself let's wait for a more recent effort and check it out again. Oh yes, I also bought "Desaparecidos" which was the same artist but with a much louder, full speed ahead type music. I did not appreciate "Los Desaparecidos" for my own selfish reasons. So I waited and bought "It's Morning, I'm Wide Awake" instead of the digital something that he put out the same day. By reading earlier reviews I knew It's morning... was the one to check out. The album was pretty darn good, some beatiful songs and that day I raised Bright Eyes to the winning circle, which is to say that special group of bands and artists that are at the top in my private list. Artists that always bring more to my life, that dazzle me with their talent and ideas. Sometimes these realeses become very important by helping me carry on as a whole. Yes, sounds are that important in my little world. I rated It' morning... with 4 stars and then came the release of "Cassadaga" (what a title!) and I knew this would tell the story of this incredibly talented artist and I am so happy to say: This is a beautiful album! It certainly deserves 4.5 stars. Bright Eyes can stand alone against anyone in his or any other generation of great musicians. What can I tell you: I'm Sold! Now all I want is to catch a show and even though I am much older than him I still get buzzed with the best of them and that is how I would show up for the event. Perfect Buzz for a Perfect Night. The last concert I went to was Sting "The Dreams of the Blue Turtles" and it was at the Greek Amphitheatre on a beautiful summer night sky covered by thousands of stars, no clouds to be found. The beer was flowing steadily, the sweet smoke was long term and the music was great. Sting later changed something about him but at one time he was my idol. Great voice, great songs (Spirits in the material world with the Police one of my old time favorites) but please don't let me digress! Bright Eyes is born and raised in America and truly among the best there is. Cassadaga blew me away. Sometimes when I least expect it a song will trigger an emotional outburst while I am cruising, a certain melody, certain words and like a good movie where one's emotions are totally engaged, a great album like "Cassadaga" can and will delight most listeners. This is the real deal, Bright Eyes can write and if his detractors might challenge his vocals just listen to bob dylan, he can't sing worth a damn but he is a genius! Go figure! (by the way bright eyes sings much better than dylan) Bright Eyes has deep talent, there, I praised him long enough! Love it! Bright Eyes, "Cassadaga" 4.5 stars!
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Cassadaga
Cassadaga by Bright Eyes
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