Bright Eyes is the alt-folk/country vehicle for American singer-songwriter Conor Oberst, who has recently been becoming the poster boy for a new generation of political activists and alternatives. Many of their songs are social commentaries on the state of affairs in modern America, sometimes dripping in sarcasm. Songs like the brilliant When the President Talks to God are scathing in their rebuke of their subjects. [Read more below]
Oberst's albums get great reviews - Q magazine, for instance, gave I'm Wide Awake, It's Morning 5-stars and labelled it, correctly, as 'the finest alt-country album this side of Gram Parson'. The Guardian calls him 'the new folk messiah'. But the same interview-article expresses Oberst's desire not to be typecast as a political singer-songwriter, which is understandable, but a pity. It sounds like Oberst is reluctant to fall into being 'the new Billy Bragg' (who's ratio of protest songs to love ones is in reality probably only 1 to 3).
As with most poster boys there's little to show exactly what he stands for beyond being anti-war and anti-Bush. He is also renowned for boycotting the Clear Channel media giant which controls much of the music industry in the US and beyond and inflicts a overtly conservative influence. He's also worked closely with Bruce Springsteen, R.E.M. and Neil Young on the anti-Republican 'Vote for Change' tour in 2004. Other alt artists that have often recorded with Bright Eyes include Gillian Welch and Emmylou Harris, who are big fans. The protest singer is also vegetarian and vaguely spiritual.
The new Bright Eyes EP Four Winds is out now, and a new album entitled Cassadaga will be released in April. Conor Oberst/Bright Eyes is definitely one to watch out for. And hopefully his more political and leftist bent will produce some exciting new political music that is definitely needed in today's apolitical music world.