Weekly Obsessions 10/20/2016

conoroberst-ruminationsIt is ridiculous that I should need to defend Conor Oberst in this day and age, but I found myself doing just that earlier today to my girlfriend.

Her main criticism was that “every time he sings, it sounds incredibly painful.” She’s not wrong. From his emo-folk work as Bright Eyes to the more hardcore-influenced Desaparecidos, there has always been a fair amount of pain and struggle in his work. His latest, Ruminationsis no exception in terms of content. Oberst has always favored hyper-sensitive, borderline-alcoholic wretches who can’t seem to keep themselves out of soul-shattering situations.

His latest retains that grandiose romantic hero mold but ultimately reveals itself as a more stripped-down affair than his usual work. Mostly piano and harmonica driven, Ruminations dispenses with frivolities and delivers a pleasingly simple reminder of what a top-notch songwriter Conor Oberst actually is. Tracks like “Gossamer Thin” and the “Rain Follows the Plow” recall the best of lyrically-focused icons like Leonard Cohen or Bob Dylan. I get that Oberst’s voice can be a little grating for some folks (me, I find it a pleasing combination of Dylan and the Cure’s Robert Smith), but these are uniformly excellent songs.

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What’s something old?

I don’t know. While we’re talking about the Cure (in passing, a little bit), why not share a perfectly decent Dinosaur Jr. cover of a Cure song? I tend to only like Dinosaur Jr when they’re covering songs by other artists, so let’s go ahead and continue in that grand tradition!

I will admit that I am finally warming to Dinosaur’s original work, but I wouldn’t consider myself a “fan.” I’ll make sure to keep you posted.

See you next week!

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