Bright Eyes Conor Oberst Desaparecidos Imaginary Scoop Merge Monsters of Folk Nonesuch Saddle Creek Shangri-La Music

A beginner’s guide to Conor Oberst: 32 of the best songs by Bright Eyes, Desaparecidos, and more

A year after I moved to Seattle, a long time friend visited me in my new home city. The night he arrived, Bright Eyes and Her Space Holiday (neither a band I had ever heard of) performed at the Paradox and my friend said both bands were great and we should go. He was right.

After the show my friend introduced me to Conor Oberst (using the Bright Eyes band moniker), as he hung out outside the venue. I muttered what I usually say to my favorite musicians, which is something bland about how great the band’s songs are (note to self: figure out something sparkly to say to your heroes).

My first Bright Eyes show was September 30, 2000.

That night I fell in love with Bright Eyes’ entire catalog of songs – their lovelorn tales of depression, elation, loss, discovery, damage and confusion spoke to my battered heart. The songs created order out of all those puzzle pieces that previously had left me feeling unlovable, hopeless, disconnected, or even, sometimes, enamored and elated (yes, there are some happy Bright Eyes songs). They still do.

Bright Eyes’ songs express the disconnection and rejection of my early years, the typical pain and exclusion that come with love and trust, as well as the joy of an alliance.  They make sense of my world, my emotions, my hopes, my inadequacies, and my desires. They are my sad, happy, sad band.

[quote style=”boxed”]I take some comfort in knowing the wave has crested
Knowing I don’t have to be an exception
– {19} “Haile Selassie”[/quote]

Years later, my friend posted a note on Friendster that read:

[highlight]I’m the one who introduced Liz to Conor Oberst, for which I apologize in advance to every guy she meets.[/highlight]

In the 16 years since my introduction, I’ve made a lot of promises to put together a Bright Eyes 101 compilation to help introduce all the people I love to all the songs I love by one of my favorite artists. I’ve found Conor Oberst songs are perfect remedies for break-ups and loneliness and soundtracks for triumphs and road trips.

A lot of these songs have given me push to get out of bed in the morning (see note on {16} below). The word I use most to describe how each songs makes me feel is “comforted”- I hope the highs and lows below offer some warm comfort for you as well.

Here are the 32 songs that offer a cross section spanning all of Conor Oberst’s musical endeavors (solo, Bright Eyes, Desaparecidos, Monsters of Folk) over about 25-275 releases (exact count is difficult because there are so many ways to count it up).

It will take a little over 2 hours to come out the other side of this recap of my favorite high-points of Conor’s musical landscape – where it’s been, where it is, and some of the most special peaks of it. I’ve name-checked a lot of emotions here – I think this cross section just about covers them.

If you’re not ready to be fully converted (or don’t have the time/emotional bandwidth right now), I put a * next to the 10 songs I definitely don’t want you to miss in the track listing below.

The story is not complete. A retrospective box set of Bright Eyes’ Saddle Creek studio albums 2000-2011 (whose colored vinyl details make me lightheaded to recite)  is set to ship in mid-October. A new Conor Oberst album, Ruminations (on Nonesuch), is set to release in October 14 (it’s streaming on NPR! It’s. So. Good.). I expect that both will make me feel more complete.

The Beginner’s Guide to Conor Oberst

Tracklisting & Editor’s Commentary


{1} “From A Balance Beam” – by Bright Eyes – from the release Lifted Or The Story Is In The Soil, Keep Your Ear To The Ground (3:40)

Is it too much to start off the mix with a song that mentions “staring at my wrist”? I love the imagery of “I baptize myself in change” – a fresh start and hope, with it’s challenges and release – it’s a much more succinct turn of phrase communicating what took me 700+ words in my intro.
{label} {easy street records} {amazon}


{2} “Reinvent The Wheel” – by Bright Eyes – from the release Four Winds (3:34)

A b-side on an EP, I hope this sweeping song about a lost idol eventually gets the attention it deserves. If anything it proves that Bright Eyes b-sides are just as important as the singles.
{label} {easy street records} {amazon}


{3} “Losin Yo Head” – by Monsters Of Folk – from the release Monsters Of Folk (4:38)

Monsters of Folk is a “supergroup” made up of Jim James (My Morning Jacket), M. Ward (solo artist and half of She & Him), and Conor Oberst and Mike Mogis (Bright Eyes). With those four big brains, I’m sure all credit for this song doesn’t belong to Conor – but it’s a favorite and illustrates he also works really well with others.
{easy street records} {amazon}


*{4} “Greater Omaha” – by Desaparecidos – from the release Read Music | Speak Spanish (4:15)

It is hard to narrow down which track I should choose from the first Desaparecidos album for this mixtape. Truth be told – the album needs to be heard in its entirety to fully appreciate the depth of its intent. The band consists of Conor and his friends and fellow members of the Omaha music scene. Their songs could change the world – if only we could get everyone to listen.
{label} {easy street records} {amazon}


{5} “The Calendar Hung Itself…” – by Bright Eyes – from the release Fevers & Mirrors (3:56)

In the arc of my bond with Bright Eyes, this song is probably my first love. I had the benefit of seeing it performed live before I ever heard a recorded version of it. The intensity and urgency fills my heart with… intensity and urgency. This was also the name of the TIG show calendar for more than a decade.
{label} {easy street records} {amazon}


*{6} “Lover I Don’t Have To Love” – by Bright Eyes – from the release Lifted Or The Story Is In The Soil, Keep Your Ear To The Ground (4:00)

The awkward conversation and the lust in this story are, um, quite vivid. “Do you like to hurt? I do. I do” was in the running for the title of this 101 course.
{label} {easy street records} {amazon}


{7} “Something Vague” – by Bright Eyes – from the release Fevers & Mirrors (3:34)

In my heart, this is a companion piece to track {5}. You *must* see this song live to fully appreciate the “And I hang like a star, fucking glow in the dark” part.
{label} {easy street records} {amazon}


*{8} “I Woke Up With This Song In My Head This Morning” – by Bright Eyes – from the release Lua (3:56)

Pairing “record collections” with “scratched affections” (another possible title of this piece) is pure brilliance and is my kind of love song.
{label} {easy street records} {amazon}


{9} “A Perfect Sonnet” – by Bright Eyes – from the release Every Day And Every Night (3:42)

This is song is on an EP released when Conor Oberst was 19 and it was Bright Eyes’ third release. I like this song for what it is, but also because it’s a glimpse into what was to come.
{label} {easy street records} {amazon}


{10} “Loose Leaves” – by Bright Eyes – from the release There Is No Beginning To The Story (3:43)

Another solid Bright Eyes’ EP – it’s got a Smiths quality with the happy-go-lucky soundtrack and the casually sardonic lyrics. Side note: this EP also features a cover of the Neil Young song, “Out on the Weekend” – which you should also treat yourself to.
{label} {easy street records} {amazon}


{11} “Pull My Hair” – by Bright Eyes – from the release Letting Off The Happiness (4:10)

Again, this was from an album released when Conor Oberst was 19 years old. It took me about 10 years to be able to profess my love for it without feeling slightly creepy. It’s uncanny how he tapped into something I didn’t feel until I was in my 30s.
{label} {easy street records} {amazon}


{12} “Sunrise, Sunset” – by Bright Eyes – from the release Fevers & Mirrors (4:32)

Further proof that the album Fevers and Mirrors is one of the most amazing albums ever made.
{label} {easy street records} {amazon}


{13} “Governor’s Ball” – by Conor Oberst – from the release Upside Down Mountain (4:21)

I love a song about an adventure at a music festival (“Sorted for E’s & Wizz”) – the “klonopin eyes” reference and story accented with the keyboard strokes make this my favorite song from this 2014 album. There are actually a bunch of elements of this song that get stuck in my head for days.
{label} {easy street records} {amazon}


{14} “Slacktivist” – by Desaparecidos – from the release Payola (2:54)

The scathing sarcasm is this song reminds us that we’ve got to do more than passively support causes to affect change.
{label} {easy street records} {amazon}


{15} “Kathy With A K’s Song” – by Bright Eyes – from the release Oh Holy Fools (4:39)

The build of this song as it proclaims love is both real and predictable is searing. Don’t be fooled (or frightened) by the fragile beginning. There’s another version of this song on the import Don’t Be Frightened Of Turning The Page (released in Japan and the UK) that is 5:28 and a nice addition to your Bright Eyes collection.
{label} {easy street records} {amazon}


*{16} “I Will Be Grateful For This Day. I Will Be Grateful For Each Day To Come” – by Bright Eyes – from the release Noise Floor: Rarities 1998-2005 (4:20)

I first fell in love with this song when it was featured on a Sub-Pop 7” record (beautiful green vinyl). Back in 2001, I had a turntable in my sparsely furnished bedroom. I remember the six months after this record entered my life, the only thing that could get me out of bed each morning was the stumble over to the record player to play this song. I would start it up, fall back in bed, repeat.

An hour later I would shuffle into work (one of my favorite jobs ever, though it truly engulfed me). Perhaps it was the lyric “I’ll learn to love my new discovered proof” that helped me feel less overwhelmed by impending adulthood and the fact I still hadn’t found boyfriend #2 – at least enough to face the day (note to self – put a record player in my bedroom).
{label} {easy street records} {amazon}


{17} “A Scale, A Mirror, And Those Indifferent Clocks” – by Bright Eyes – from the release Fevers & Mirrors (2:45)

This is a cornerstone of the amazing album Fevers and Mirrors (which I’ve already convinced you to buy, right?). It’s graceful and ties a lot of the themes of the album together with a bow of: “Once the page of a calendar is turned it’s no more. So tell me then, what was it for?”
{label} {easy street records} {amazon / mp3}


{18} “Marikkkopa” – by Desaparecidos – from the release Payola (2:46)

After college graduation, I followed my heart to boyfriend #1 in Maricopa county (in Arizona). In the 3+ years I was there, I never found my footing. Even though I thought I had found love, I felt the most deserted and insecure of my life. It wasn’t until years later that I could confidently proclaim, “Dear Phoenix, it wasn’t me, it was you!” The fact that Sheriff Joe Arpaio was considered a “hero” there only confirms it.
{label} {easy street records} {amazon}


{19} “Haile Selassie” – by Bright Eyes – from the release The People’s Key (4:33)

By including this song on the mix, maybe now folks will know what I’m referencing when I shout “One Love!”
{label} {easy street records} {amazon}


{20} “Take It Easy (Love Nothing)” – by Bright Eyes – from the release Digital Ash In A Digital Urn (3:21)

I love the waves of synth and blips that flow throughout this song. “I should probably feel cheap but I just feel free… and a little bit empty.”
{label} {easy street records} {amazon}


{21} “I’ve Been Eating (For You)” – by Bright Eyes – from the release Noise Floor: Rarities 1998-2005 or 3 New Hit Songs From Bright Eyes (2:58)

The brutal pain in this song is so palatable I nearly lose my own appetite. To me it’s not really about starving oneself, it’s about cutting oneself off from the things that make you happy and healthy – because the loss is too much. Insert my own inner-monologue of never being good enough here.
{label} {easy street records} {amazon}


*{22} “Road To Joy” – by Bright Eyes – from the release Motion Sickness (5:57)

After a song as severe as {21}, “Road to Joy” with its orchestra of free-wheeling bass-lines and trumpets, felt the perfect next step. Bonus, this live version features applause – my favorite instrument. The lyrics are just as sharp and include two passages I recite to myself most days:

[quote style=”boxed”]No one ever plans to sleep out in the gutter
Sometimes that’s just the most comfortable place[/quote]

[quote style=”boxed”]Let’s fuck it up boys, make some noise![/quote]

The studio version of this song (just as great) is on the album I’m Wide Awake, It’s Morning.
{label} {easy street records} {amazon}


{23} “Easy/Lucky/Free” – by Bright Eyes – from the release Digital Ash In A Digital Urn (5:32)

This is a track from the album most often described as Bright Eyes’ “electronic” album – but this song feels so much more than that. The video is a triumph as well.
{label} {easy street records} {amazon}


{24} “Waste Of Paint” – by Bright Eyes – from the release Lifted Or The Story Is In The Soil, Keep Your Ear To The Ground (6:30)

Many Conor Oberst songs have the talent of taking me out of my own narrative and remind me that everyone is suffering and needs to be cared for accordingly. Also, that part about the “fairy tales that drugged us” is rad.
{label} {easy street records} {amazon}


*{25} “NYC-Gone, Gone” – by Conor Oberst – from the release Conor Oberst (1:12)

Thanks for the party road trip song! Also, there is debate on whether the artist and album name is actually “Conor Oberst and the Mystic Valley Band” but that discussion might be delving into the superfan minutiae a little too deep.
{label} {easy street records} {amazon}


{26} “Singularity” – by Bright Eyes – from the release Singularity (4:30)

This is likely the most “lounge singer” of all the Conor Oberst songs. I adore the way the words words depicting an end of times roll of my tongue.
{label} {easy street records} {amazon}


{27} “Hot Knives” – by Bright Eyes – from the release Cassadaga (4:14)

This is one of my favorite songs. If I had to pick a top five Bright Eyes songs – this would solidly be at the top. The tales of consolation in mutual pain feed my soul. “I’ve made love, I’ve been fucked, so what?!?!” I equally adore the modified-for-TV version in the performance on Letterman: “I’ve made love, in handcuffs, so what?!?!”
{label} {easy street records} {amazon}


{28} “Another Travelin’ Song” – by Bright Eyes – from the release I’m Wide Awake It’s Morning (4:17)

Another great road trip song – and that’s Emmylou Harris sharing the vocals.
{label} {easy street records} {amazon}


{29} “Souled Out!!!” – by Conor Oberst and the Mystic Valley Band – from the release Conor Oberst (3:32)

Songs that are free of the moniker “Bright Eyes” have a different heaviness. They rely less on the autobiographical feel (please note the difference of feeling autobiographical and being autobiographical) and get their strength from a thicker band dynamic and, usually, lots of guitars. This mix up of styles makes adds a nice new dimension to the catalog.
{label} {easy street records} {amazon}


{30} “First Day of My Life” – by Bright Eyes – from the release I’m Wide Awake, It’s Morning (3:09)

I almost didn’t include this song because it’s been co-opted on so many crush playlists as a token “I’m so cool that I dedicate this song to you.” But, it’s a really great song and I’ll probably request it be played at my funeral. It is *that* good. Also, “When the President Talks to God” is a b-side on this song’s single release. Years from now, I will use that song to explain the G. W. Bush years to my kid.
{label} {easy street records} {amazon}


{31} “Slowly (Oh So Slowly)” – by Conor Oberst and the Mystic Valley Band – from the release Outer South (3:34)

As with {29}, this is a song, not a confession or an anecdote. It’s full bodied and I’d love to see it performed at the Tractor Tavern.
{label} {easy street records} {amazon}


*{32} “Let’s Not Shit Ourselves” – by Bright Eyes – from the release Lifted Or The Story Is In The Soil, Keep Your Ear To The Ground (10:08)

I’ve heard this song more times than I can count, and the beautiful chaos and eloquent outrage still leave me amazed and stunned.

There is no better way to wrap it all up… or kick it off… or live it up.
{label} {easy street records} {amazon}

Rinse and Repeat

And here’s the playlist on youtube if you want to play in on repeat (recommended).

Top: a couple of the photos in the lead montage were provided to TIG by brilliant and talented photographers: Ryan Schierling and Chona Kasinger.

Bright Eyes Conor Oberst Desaparecidos Imaginary Scoop Showbox at the Market

Why seeing Desaparecidos this Saturday {8/25} at the Showbox is more than just recommended…

Desaparecidos photo: Zach Hollowell
photo: Zach Hollowell

It's only in the past few weeks that I've been able to come to grips with the reality that Conor Oberst and his Bright Eyes-side project band, Desaparecidos will take the stage this Saturday at the Showbox (Market).  

It's been over 10 years since I first saw them at the Paradox on February 18, 2002 (in the pre-TIG days).  The show was packed but, as with most Paradox shows, it felt intimate like a underground basement show. The band played through their (only and beloved) album Read Music | Speak Spanish and the Happiest Place On Earth single.  While still only semi-confident in their indie rockstardom, the band bolstered the shy crowd into a ferocious and unrelenting fever with each song they played.

Now it's 10 years later and although so much has changed in their (and our) lives, so much has stayed the same. Their rage against the machine is still justified and connects with every one of us (at least those of us who are reading this post).  Names and workplaces have changed, but the white-hot distaste of injustice and over-consumption still permeate our conversations (and Facebook threads).  

Sure all of us have had our moments in which "there is hope, and there is joy, and there is acceptance" (as illustrated in the Bright Eyes' "Kathy With A K's Song"), but a Desaparecidos reunion show and a couple of new songs is just the spark we need to reignite the fire that for some of us is apt to grow cold now and again when faced with mortgages and career paths.  Desaparecidos songs weren't crafted to make us feel guilty about adulthood, but rather, guide us into an adulthood centered around happiness, selflessness, betterment, and compassion.

And it is for that, most of all, that I am counting down to Saturday night at the Showbox; Not (just) to relive the magic of the past and a brilliant album that was released 10 years ago… but rather, to fire up all engines and get back on track, with a vengeance.

Oh, and in case you missed it (and as I mentioned earlier), Desaparecidos released two new songs: "MariKKKopa" and "Backsell." You can listen to streams of the songs online (over and over), or receive instant downloads of them with the purchase of a PERSONALIZED 7" from the Desaparecidos shop.  When you pre-order a 7", you can type in your name (or the name of your very lucky favorite Desaparecidos fan) and the 7" will be pressed JUST FOR YOU! As IF, my love of this band could grow any bigger. PS – there is no such thing as over-consumption when it comes to supporting your favorite bands.

I think (hope hope hope) that Saturday is going to go a little bit like this:

Bright Eyes Imaginary Scoop Paramount Theatre

This Wednesday's Bright Eyes show will make it all better {especially if you win free tickets}

(Please oh please let them play this song at Wednesday's show)

This has been a rough week for me. Two of my favorite bands of ever and all time decided September, 2011 is the perfect month to step away from the tambourine and call it quits.  Oh REM and the Bluetones, I will miss you so. Your songs have made life worth living on many a day and I thank you for the memories.  

The only thing that has made the last week musically bearable is the fact that my dear Bright Eyes is going to be in Seattle this Wednesday, September 28, 2012 at the Paramount

I'm going to the show with my favorite fellow BE-fan friend, Cori, who saw Bright Eyes perform at Sasquatch this year. His explanation of how the show ended still makes me weak in the knees (not verbatim):

As the band wrapped up their set with a song off the new album, "One for You, One for Me," Conor explained that we need to remember to be kind and love everyone.  He reached out to the crowd but he was unable to make physical contact with the admirers in the front because of the barrier fence and security. As the song and the almost-touching-angst rose to maximum fever pitch, Conor grabbed a gal from the front row and laid a big kiss on her. The crowd exploded with love.

(Sidenote: Why I can't find this moment on youtube is beyond me.)

I witnessed this kindness sentiment repeated at SXSW and Lollapalooza this year (thanks NPR for streaming the video!) when he jumped off the stage and hugged the concertgoers and even the security guards as he made his way off the stage.

Love. LOVE all around!  

So, while I'm not promising there's going to be lovefest at Wednesday's show, knowing that there's a slight possibility that someone in the room might get a Conor hug or kiss is enough to help me get through my REM+Bluetones grieving process.  

And the best part of the whole thing? We've got a pair of tickets to giveaway to the Bright Eyes show! Email tig at with your name, a reason why you need a hug, and the subject line "Conor HuggyPants" to enter to win the tickets. We'll draw a name on Tuesday 9/27 at 8am.

Aloe Blacc Brandi Carlile Bright Eyes Charles Bradley Cold War Kids Elbow Fitz and the Tantrums Fleet Foxes Gillian Welch Imaginary Scoop Mavis Staples Moondoggies On The Road Phosphorescent Ray LaMontagne Stevie Wonder Telekinesis! The Cave Singers The Head and the Heart The Walkmen We Are Augustines Yellow Ostrich Zilker Park

Here we go, Austin! Here we go! *clap!* *clap!*

Yup. There sure are a lot of exclamation points up in that headline, and with good cause: we're heading off for Austin City Limits this weekend, to catch some bands and some tan in the near-hundred-degree sun. Between pre-trip laundering, hydrating, charging our camera batteries and getting all that three-ounce-or-less business handled for the flight, we thought we'd take a minute to let you know about some of the acts we're particularly excited about this year — especially since there seems to be a particularly strong PNW presence to be reckoned with every single day of the 'fest.

{Cave Singers / by Victoria VanBruinisse}

{Brandi Carlile / by Victoria VanBruinisse}

The start of the fest on Friday is kind of like easing in to that hot, soapy, not-too-dirty-yet festival bath. Hometown heroine Brandi Carlile will be getting things going early in the day, and we're hoping her sweet sounds will put us in the right kind of mood to slide over into Ray LaMontagne's late afternoon set — they're both playing at the AMD stage starting around 2p. As the day darkens, we hope to get a little more gritty with the Cave Singers, and while Cold War Kids and Bright Eyes blow their sets out back-to-back {on the Honda and AMD stages respectively, for those of you following along in your custom-made schedules at home}, we might have to weasel our way forward to get a bigger-than-Bumbershoot-sized helping of Charles Bradley as he closes out the Vista Equity stage just before forever-legend Mavis Staples. As to whether we end day one with Kanye West or Coldplay — my vote's on Kanye. But seeing as the fest is all sold out except for a few Sunday passes, we might not be able to make it close enough for a photo report. Fingers crossed!

Pending crowd surges (and weather permitting), we hope to also make time to get a little Delta Spirit, Smith Westerns, Kurt Vile, and Santigold into our schedules too!

{Aloe Blacc / by Victoria VanBruinisse}

{Telekinesis / by Victoria VanBruinisse}

Then, we'll be off to sweet, sweet Saturday. Also known as Dance Party Day. Also known as Stevie Motherfucking Wonder Day.

No matter which way you arrange the docket we'll be starting our day with Telekinesis, and then shifting over to catch Aloe Blacc & The Grand Scheme on one of the main {Bud Light} stages — and at that point, it'll be pretty tempting to park our white-girl selves there for the day to have a chance at even a relative glimpse of Stevie Wonder's headlining set at 8p. Mind you, it wouldn't be the end of the world to take the day in with sets from J. Roddy Walston & the Business, Allison Krauss & Union Station, and Cee Lo. However, with glittery gems like Phosphorescent, Iron & Wine, the Moondoggies, Fitz & The Tantrums, Gillian Welch, Wanda Jackson, and My Morning Jacket shining their respective love-lights all over the park — we might just have to venture out to see some of it. This will likely be determined by a coin toss, and you'll just have to wait for the photos sometime next week to find out what happens…

{The Head and the Heart / by Victoria VanBruinisse}

Sunday, Sunday, Sunday. Easy like Sunday morning, for sure! Yellow Ostrich, yes. Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr., yes yes. The Head and the Heart, yes to the frigging YES. The Walkmen? Yes. Broken Social Scene? YES. But holy hell in a handbasket, ELBOW {!!!!!!!!!}. Which, on some level, is just as mind-melting of a concept for us as being in the presence of Stevie Wonder the night before. That's a stretch, of course — but for us, Elbow : minor league alt.indie.ihavenoface-ness :: Stevie Wonder : major league legendary status-ness.

Sunday's second half of the day must-sees that we'll be running from stage to stage to catch include (but are not limited to) Gomez, We Are Augustines, Fleet Foxes, and Hayes Carll, all of whom combo together to put us into a reflective, insightful, foot-moving, sun-kissed state. And capping the night off will be none other than Arcade Fire, who'll be launching their modern anthems out into the sweltering nighttime.

Here's to keeping track of our luggage, our earplugs and our water bottles! We'll have a full report with photos next week post-fest.

{Photos by Victoria VanBruinisse. From top: Cave Singers at the Moore (2011), Brandi Carlile at the Crocodile (2010), Aloe Blacc at Sasquatch! (2011), Telekinesis at the Crocodile (2011), and The Head and the Heart at the Comet (2010).}

BOAT Bright Eyes Brown Recluse Sings Dangerous Ponies Fishboy Folklore Forbidden Friends Imaginary Scoop Kids On A Crime Spree Matt & Kim Okkervil River Oregon Bike Trails Pains of Being Pure at Heart Telekinesis! The Mountain Goats The Thermals When I Was 12

A mixtape of Imaginary Liz's Best of 2011 {so far)

Imaginary Liz's Best of 2011 pt 1

Rather than thinking of it as 2011 being halfway over, I prefer to see it as we’re all halfway to my birthday {December 24th if it’s not on your calendar already}.  To celebrate, and take stock of this year’s releases thus far, I’ve put together a mix of my favorite songs of 2011 {so far}.

This year has brought some predictably great albums from friends such as Mountain Goats, Okkervil River, BOAT, Matt & Kim, Telekinesis, Bright Eyes.  I feel like I’ve been waiting for a fresh batch of songs from Brown Recluse for years. I love every note they play and having a two hearty releases in one year {Panoptic Mirror Maze and Evening Tapestry} makes me overjoyed.

Other bands, like When I Was 12 and Dangerous Ponies, I am thankful for crossing paths with for the first time this year.

And then there are the folks that have left me wanting more more more (I’m looking at you Oregon Bike Trails and Forbidden Friends)! Huge thanks to You Aint No Picasso for bringing Oregon Bike Trails to my attention. OBT fellow,  singer/songwriter Zach Yudin, from Santa Monica, Ca., is quite the mysterious dude – only having a cassette tape release earlier this year (hand painted, limited to 50!) and a couple other MP3s swirling around the web.

Forbidden Friends, a side project by Thermals frontman Hutch Harris (with Michael Lerner of Telekinesis on drums and fellow Thermals Kathy Foster and Westin Glass backing him up), is still in the 7″ only phase, and needless to say I’m counting down to a full album of FF stuff.

In short, I can’t recommend the below songs and full releases enough. To help convince you of their brilliance, I made a virtual mix cd!

The tracklisting of my {hopefully very convincing} mix cd is:

1.  When I Was 12 – “Explicit Content” – Dear Eskimo (3:09)
{tig} {listen} {buy}

2.  Oregon Bike Trails – “Swimsuit” (3:33) 

3.  Brown Recluse – “Memory museum” Panoptic Mirror Maze (4:02) 
{mp3} {free EP}

4.  Forbidden Friends – “Tiny Hands” – Tiny Hands 7″ (2:30) 
{mp3} {buy}

5.  Folklore – “The Party” – Home Church Road (3:18) 
{tig} {mp3} {buy}

6.  Matt & Kim – “Block After Block” – Sidewalks (2:56) 
{tig} {watch} {buy}

7.  BOAT – “When Frank Black Says (No. 14 Baby)” – Dress Like Your Idols (2:15)
{tig} {listen} {buy}

8.  Fishboy – “Alyson Revere” – Classic Creeps (2:46) 
{tig} {listen} {buy}

9.  Dangerous Ponies – “You Are Dangerous” – Dangerous Ponies (3:19) 
{tig} {listen} {buy}

10.  Okkervil River – “Rider” – I Am Very Far (4:25) 
{tig} {mp3} {buy}

11.  The Mountain Goats – “Estate Sale Sign” – All Eternals Deck (2:47) 
{tig} {listen} {buy}

12.  Kids On A Crime Spree – “Sweet Tooth” – We Love You So Bad (1:54) 
{mp3} {buy}

13.  Telekinesis – “Car Crash” – 12 Desperate Straight Lines (2:40) 
{mp3} {buy}

14.  Bright Eyes – “Singularity” – Singularity (4:30) 
{tig} {listen} {buy}

15.  Pains of Being Pure At Heart – “Heart In Your Heartbreak” – Belong (3:45)
{tig} {listen} {buy}

{download high rez cover art for this mix cd and / or purchase a mix of these songs on iTunes}

Now that you’ve had a week to process what the first six months delivered, do you have a list of favorites? What’s on your Best of 2011, pt 1 mix?

Bright Eyes Death Cab for Cutie Imaginary Scoop J. Mascis Live Show Review Matt & Kim On The Road Robyn Sharon van Etten Wye Oak

Photoessay: opening day(s) of Sasquatch! at the Gorge, part II

{This is part two of our opening day coverage of this year's Sasquatch! music festival at the Gorge — click here to take a peek at part one!}

Our first full day at Sasquatch! kept rolling strong, with a big-guitar kick-ass set from Sharon van Etten, which shifted flawlessly over to an intimate solo performance from J. Mascis on the Yeti stage. The noise kept coming with the simultaneously loud/pretty sounds of Wye Oak, after which we changed gears to take on the upbeat, alt.indie.powerpop-ish party of Matt & Kim — what a blast! The fading sun brought a powerful, dusky mainstage set from Bright Eyes, and we welcomed the night with an impressive (albeit late) performance from Robyn on the Bigfoot stage.

Closing out the night with a local flourish, hometown faves Death Cab for Cutie took us out well into the dark with a killer mainstage performance that spanned an impressive portion of their current and back catalog. Photos below!

Sharon van Etten:

{Sharon Van Etten / by Victoria VanBruinisse}

J. Mascis:

{J. Mascis / by Victoria VanBruinisse}

{J. Mascis / by Victoria VanBruinisse}

{J. Mascis / by Victoria VanBruinisse}

Wye Oak:

{Wye Oak / by Victoria VanBruinisse}

{Wye Oak / by Victoria VanBruinisse}

Matt and Kim:

{Matt and Kim / by Victoria VanBruinisse}

{Matt and Kim / by Victoria VanBruinisse}

{Matt and Kim / by Victoria VanBruinisse}

Our friendly press area security guard, Bobby:

{Bobby / by Victoria VanBruinisse}

Bright Eyes:

{Bright Eyes / by Victoria VanBruinisse}

{Bright Eyes / by Victoria VanBruinisse}

{Bright Eyes fans / by Victoria VanBruinisse}


{Robyn / by Victoria VanBruinisse}

{Robyn / by Victoria VanBruinisse}

Death Cab for Cutie:

{Death Cab for Cutie / by Victoria VanBruinisse}

{Death Cab for Cutie / by Victoria VanBruinisse}

The rest of our opening day shots are in part one of this post here. Check out more photos from our day one road trip, along with days two, three and four in the imaginary flickr pool!

Bright Eyes Death Cab for Cutie Gorge Amphitheater Guided by Voices Imaginary Scoop Matt & Kim Noah and the Whale Old 97s On The Road Rebecca Gates Sharon Jones & the Dap Kings Stornoway Surfer Blood The Decemberists The Drums The Flaming Lips The Head and the Heart The Radio Dept. The Thermals The Young Evils Wilco

The 2011 Sasquatch bill is un-frack-withable

Gorge-ous Backdrop

{Sasquatch photo by asclepius6 from the Imaginary Flickr Photo Pool}

Do you hear that?

It is the sound of folks feverishly tweeting and posting about the amazing #Sasquatch line-up just announced. After weeks (who are we kidding, months!) of mathematically calculating probabilities based on tour schedules and record release dates, we finally have a firm answer of who’s going to be at the Gorge this Memorial Day weekend, as well as explanations as to why certain folks don’t have a Seattle tour date in the next few months.

Not to sound like everyone else every other year, but this year’s line-up has left me speechless. The Sasquatch folks have brought together the best of the best of the best (except Allo Darlin, which I’m guessing will be begged to participate next year) to celebrate their 10th Anniversary.  I mean Wilco, Bright Eyes, Matt & Kim, The Radio Dept., The Thermals, Stornoway, and The Young Evils!?!?!?  You’re killing me!!!

Are you headed that way? Who are you most excited about (mine bolded below)? Anyone else you think is going to be added to the bill before we pack up our roadtrip munchies and head Quincy, WA way?

Foo Fighters, Death Cab For Cutie, Modest Mouse , Wilco, The Flaming Lips (performing The Soft Bulletin & more), The Decemberists, Bright Eyes, Iron & Wine, Rodrigo Y Gabriela, Bassnectar, Robyn, Flogging Molly, Death From Above 1979, Pink Martini, Cold War Kids, Old 97’s, Ratatat, Wolf Parade, Chromeo, Guided By Voices, Yeasayer, Beach House, Sharon Jones & The Dap Kings, Local Natives, Matt & Kim, Deerhunter, Mstrkrft, Trailer Park Boys, Sleigh Bells, Major Lazer, Flying Lotus, Skrillex, Tokyo Police Club, Fitz & The Tantrums, !!!, Archers of Loaf, Against Me!, The Thermals, Best Coast, CSS, Surfer Blood, Jenny & Johnny, Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, The Head & The Heart, Bonobo (DJ Set), City and Colour, Reggie Watts, K-Os, Gayngs, Tim Minchin, The Drums, The Radio Dept, Young the Giant, The Antlers, Sharon Van Etten, Villagers, Stornoway, Aloe Blacc, Black Mountain, Moondoggies, Noah & The Whale, Sam Roberts Band, Secret Sisters, Twin Shadow, Das Racist, Wye Oak, Tig Notaro, Wheedle’s Groove, Smith Westerns, Rival Schools, Foster the People, Alberta Cross, S. Carey, White Denim, Washed Out, Gold Panda, Dan Mangan, Axis of Awesome, The Globes, Cotton Jones, Jaill, Mad Rad, Basia Bulat, Other Lives, The Bronx, White Arrows, Pepper Rabbit, Talkdemonic, Rebecca Gates and The Consortium, The Young Evils, and more!

4-day all-inclusive passes are on sale now at the Sasquatch website.


Bright Eyes Conor Oberst Imaginary Scoop Saddle Creek

The Bright Eyes news I've been waiting for: new album and shows in 2011


{Photo by Etching A. Sketch from the Imaginary Flickr Photo Pool}

It’s been a while since the last Conor Oberst release (“a while” by Conor Oberst standards). So, for the past year I’ve lived in fear that there was a new album, tour, or collaboration announced and I didn’t know about it. Now I know he was working on a new album with all that time (although I did have a neat daydream that he was spending his time under the radar working retail in a Brooklyn boutique).

Looks like all that holding of my breath and lighting candles has finally paid off in the most St. Valentine’s season of ways. It was announced this morning on that Bright Eyes will release their seventh studio album on February 15, 2011 on Saddle Creek Records.

The album, entitled The People’s Key, was recorded in Omaha and produced by legendary Bright Eyes co-conspirator wizard Mike Mogis. To mark the release of the album, Conor and co will perform two shows:

Radio City Music Hall in New York City on March 9, 2011
(Pre-Sale Begins: December 1 at 12PM EST. Public On-Sale: December 4 at 10AM EST)

Royal Albert Hall in London on June 23, 2011
(Pre-Sale Begins: December 1 at 12PM EST. Public On-Sale: Saturday, December 4 at 9AM).

New York in early Spring and London in the Summer? I like that kind of vacation schedule.  Let the search for cheap flights begin!

Full track list for The People’s Key:

1. Firewall
2. Shell Games
3. Jejune Stars
4. Approximated Sunlight
5. Haile Selassie
6. A Machine Spiritual (In The People’s Key)
7. Triple Spiral
8. Beginner’s Mind
9. Ladder Song
10. One For You, One For Me

Right now I’m guessing that “Shell Games” and “One For You, One For Me” will be my favorite tracks, with “Jejune Stars” coming in a close third.

I’m not sure if there’s anyone as jazzed about this in the imaginary world as I am, but I have to share as this has totally made me procure and mark up a 2011 calendar. 

Any 2011 albums you’re looking forward to?

Bright Eyes Free French Hello Seahorse Idlewild Imaginary Scoop Math and Physics Club Smoosh Still Flyin The White Stripes Two Gallants Voxtrot

imaginary liz’s favorite songs from the last decade that are worthy of recognition

I hope I’m not getting too granular with my listage, but given the empowering nature of  turning the page on the decade, I can’t help myself–I wanted to make sure that that certain song gems didn’t go unrewarded for their brilliance.

Thusly, I compiled the below list of songs released in the last decade that are total A+++, but who’s album didn’t make it on my favs of the decade list… either because the song is from an EP or single; the album is good, but not as solid as the 75 albums that made my list; a bunch of other albums by the band/artists appeared on the list; or I just was bad with tabulating and this should have been on the list based on the strength of said song alone.

Please enjoy the below a recap of the top 10 songs from the last decade that amaze me beyond belief (and didn’t make my favorite albums of the decade list). What splashes of song brilliance rocked your 2000-2009? I bet between all of us we could make the most amazing quad-mix cd ever!

The White Stripes – “You’re Pretty Good Looking (For a Girl)” from the album De Stijl

It’s impossible for me to not jump up and down (my preferred dance move) throughout this entire song.

Idlewild – “Roseability” from 100 Broken Windows

Listening to this song again and again reminds me of one of my favorite shows of the decade (and perhaps will inspire a list recounting them) — seeing a sea of Scottish flags wave as Idlewild launched into this song at T in the Park in 2002.

The Free French – “Do You Come Here Often?” from the album Running on Batteries

My love of this song lead me to find the lead singer of the Free French and now one of my favorite tweeters, Rhodri. Perhaps I should take it up with him on twitter regarding the sad state that no video can be found!!! Here’s a mono MP3 of the song for you to hear what I’m going on about.

Smoosh – “Rad” from the album She Like Electric

Seriously RAD. These two girls are examples of all that is good in the world. Even though I have had nothing to do with their upbringing, I still beam with pride at the mention of Smoosh. Perhaps because it restores all my faith in the future.

Voxtrot – “Raised by Wolves” from on the Raised by Wolves EP

This song and single/EP was so good, I think it really made it hard for the band to release a full-length album after all the hype and critical acclaim garnered from “Raised by Wolves.” In hindsight I think *we all* were a little hard on their 2007 self-titled album. Although it was no “Raised by Wolves,” the chorus “Firecracker / Firecracker” is pretty stellar.

Math And Physics Club – “White and Grey” from the Movie Ending Romance EP

There’s not an official video for this. I guess I should only fall in love with songs for which there are mega-super-fans who will create endless videos for it using garden tools and barbies (see also: White Stripes, Bright Eyes).

Bright Eyes – “Take It Easy (Love Nothing)” from the album Digital Ash in a Digital Urn

I was *this close* to putting the Bright Eyes song I Will Be Grateful for This Day, I Will Be Grateful for Each Day To Come which is from a SubPop 7″ of the same name. Turning on the record player to hear that song first thing in the morning was the primary reason I got out of bed for the entirety of the year 2001. You think I’m kidding? (see also: my Bright Eyes 101 article)

This song won out because I think that it is just as incredible, and it is less likely to throw one of you into a fit of depression or obsession. My advice? Listen to both of them and report back to me.

Two Gallants – “Nothing to You” from What the Toll Tells

This song is a universal. Regardless of where it is played, a hush falls on any crowd, followed by scary and deep introspection.

Hello Seahorse! – “Wont Say Anything” from the album Hoy A Las Ocho

When I’m feeling down, I put on this song and the world is ok. It also makes me want to go get my hair cut like the lead singer of Hello Seahorse!.


Still Flyin – “The Hott Chord Is Struck” from the album Never Gonna Touch The Ground

Are you tired of this song yet? Me neither!!! It always brings on the party… complete with magical appearance of a man in a captains hat.


{stylish photo by nancyo23}

ballboy BOAT Bright Eyes Carissa's Wierd Clinic David and the Citizens Desaparecidos Fishboy Galactic Heroes Girl Talk Hefner Her Space Holiday Imaginary Scoop Los Campesinos! Los Halos Math and Physics Club Matt & Kim mclusky Nana Grizol Okkervil River She and Him Starlight Mints The Arcade Fire The Eames Era The Lucksmiths The Mountain Goats The Postal Service The Thermals The White Stripes Tullycraft Visqueen Wilco

imaginary liz’s favorite albums of the last decade

The Thermals by Bobby McHugh

Yesterday I divulged my favorite albums of the year. Today I am ready to let go of my latest obsession: My album recap of how I spent my 00’s.

The below listage rant is my own little time capsule to remind myself why 2000-2009 musically ruled. As with my other list posts, I’m certain I totally forgot to add something really important to my end-all-be-all-recap. It’s up to you to remind me by posting your favs of the 00’s below.

  1. Bright EyesFevers and Mirrors
  2. The ThermalsMore Parts Per Million
  3. TullycraftDisenchanted Hearts Unite
  4. Nana GrizolLove It Love It
  5. Los CampesinosHold On Now, Youngster
  6. Matt & KimGrand
  7. Her Space HolidayThe Young Machines
  8. ballboyClub Anthems
  9. The LucksmithsWhy That Doesn’t Surprise Me
  10. David & the CitizensUntil the Sadness is Gone
  11. Okkervil RiverDon’t Fall in Love with Everyone You See
  12. DesaparecidosRead Music/Speak Spanish
  13. WilcoYankee Hotel Foxtrot
  14. The White StripesWhite Blood Cells
  15. BOATSongs That You Might Not Like
  16. ClinicInternal Wrangler
  17. VisqueenMessage to Garcia
  18. Los HalosLeaving Va.
  19. Math and Physics ClubMath and Physics Club
  20. She and HimVolume 1
  21. The Galactic HeroesEvery Sidewalk
  22. FishboyAlbatross: How We Failed To Save The Lone Star State With The Power Of Rock And Roll
  23. HefnerDead Media
  24. The Mountain GoatsThe Coroner’s Gambit
  25. Carissa’s WierdSongs About Leaving
  26. The Postal ServiceGive Up
  27. Arcade FireFuneral
  28. The Eames EraDouble Dutch
  29. mcluskyMclusky Do Dallas
  30. Starlight MintsThe Dream That Stuff Was Made Of


#31-#50 (in alphabetical order)

  • – Bright EyesI’m Wide Awake, It’s Morning
  • – Bright EyesLifted or The Story is in the Soil, Keep Your Ear to the Ground
  • – The CatchGet Cool
  • – The FratellisCostello Music
  • – The Go! TeamThunder, Lightning, Strike
  • – Girl TalkFeed the Animals
  • – GrandaddyThe Sophtware Slump
  • – The HivesVeni Vidi Vicious
  • – Hot Hot HeatMake Up the Breakdown
  • – The Long WintersWhen I Pretend to Fall
  • – Los Campesinos!We Are Beautiful, We Are Doomed
  • – Matt & KimMatt & Kim
  • – Stéphane PompougnacHotel Costes (Vol 3)
  • – The Saturday KnightsMingle
  • – The ShinsOh, Inverted World
  • – The StrokesIs This It
  • – Suburban Kids with Biblical Names#3
  • – Tegan & SarahSo Jealous
  • – The ThermalsFuckin A
  • – TullycraftBeat Surf Fun


#51-#75 (in alphabetical order)

  • – Lily AllenAlright, Still
  • – Belle & SebastianFold Your Hands Child, You Walk Like A Peasant
  • – Cars Can Be BlueAll the Stuff We Do
  • – CineramaDisco Volante
  • – ClearlakeCedars
  • – The Dandy WarholsThirteen Tales From Urban Bohemia
  • – The FeaturesExhibit A
  • – GorillazGorillaz
  • – The GossipStanding in the Way of Control
  • Hedwig and the Angry Inch soundtrack
  • – Jarvis CockerJarvis
  • – The Long WintersThe Worst You Can Do Is Harm
  • – Miniature TigersTell It To The Volcano
  • – Noah and the WhalePeaceful, The World Lays Me Down
  • – The Pains of Being Pure at HeartThe Pains of Being Pure at Heart
  • – The PharmacyChoose Yr Own Adventure
  • – QuasiThe Sword of God
  • – The RaptureOut of the Races & Onto the Tracks
  • – The Scotland Yard Gospel ChoirThe Scotland Yard Gospel Choir
  • – Snow PatrolWhen It’s All Over We Still Have to Clear Up
  • – TelekinesisTelekinesis!
  • – The ThermalsThe Body The Blood The Machine
  • – The TrucksThe Trucks
  • – The White StripesElephant
  • – VisqueenKing Me
Tomorrow the plan is to list out my favorite locals of the decade… I wonder who will top the list?
{Photo by Bobby McHugh}