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6:05
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4:16
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4:53
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4:13
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4:14
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4:14
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4:19
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4:49
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3:28
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5:12
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6:19
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5:53
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Format: 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.
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Format: 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).
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Format: 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.
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