Cassadaga Review

artist: Bright Eyes date: 03/24/2008 category: compact discs
Bright Eyes: Cassadaga
Release Date: Apr 10, 2007
Label: Saddle Creek
Genres: Indie Rock, Alternative Singer/Songwriter
Number Of Tracks: 13
The 13-song-record is certain to open more doors for a band whose recognition has soared with every release since Oberst was just 14.
 Sound: 9
 Lyrics: 9.8
 Overall Impression: 9.3
 Overall rating:
 Reviewer rating:
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reviews (6) 11 comments vote for this album:
overall: 10
Cassadaga Reviewed by: miriamleaman, on april 10, 2007
3 of 3 people found this review helpful

Sound: Cassadaga is a very different album, yet it is similar to I'm Wide Awake, It's Morning. But while on I'm Wide Awake, It's Morning and the other albumes, Cassadaga features a totally new sound. Unlike the younger, more shy voice and the acoustic guitar being a big part of each song, Conor has a more clear, less shy voice and the guitar isn't lost but is accompanied but violins, electric guitars, bright pianos, organs, and more distinct percussion. It is a very different but very good. Every album has a ditinct sound, but this one is the black sheep(but that is Bright Eyes for you). // 10

Lyrics: Conor always has amazing lyrics. Always. With all the symbolism. Another way this album is different is in the lyrics. On the old albums the lyrics were mostly sad, very personal, or had some message of things being very wrong in the world (not all, but a lot). On this album, the songs are a tiny bit less personal and a bit brighter. It seems like Conor found something new and better that inspired him to write something like this. With the help of a few female voices: Maria Taylor, Z. Berg (from The Like), Sherri DuPree & Stacy Dupree (from Eisley), and Rachael Yamagata, this album turned out with a great new sound. // 10

Overall Impression: As earlier stated, this album is very different from the others. It still has a distinct Bright Eyes sound, but it is very different. The whole sound and the lyrics and the way everything was put together is pretty different. It opens up with the sound collage and a song to set the mood of the album, like the other albums. There is nothing to hate or dislike about this ablum (if you are a Bright Eyes fan). A true Bright Eyes fan loves and accepts all Bright Eyes songs. They can pull something from it easily. This album is no exception to that rule. This is a very lovable album. I think that the whole different sound might throw some Bright Eyes lovers off a bit at first. But if you listen to it without judging it as too country or not "emo"(which Bright Eyes is not but often gets labled as) enough, you will love it. To end this I would like to say, "Don't Be Frightened Of Turning The Page," get this album and give it a chance! // 10

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overall: 9.3
Cassadaga Reviewed by: terry pierson, on may 03, 2007
2 of 2 people found this review helpful

Sound: Bright Eyes's sound is maturing in leaps with every album. After the 2005 masterpieces Digital Ash in a Digital Urn and I'm Wide Awake, It's Morning the band has now released their sixth studio album and the sound of the band is more complete then ever. Bright Eyes is made up of three permanent members Conor Oberst (guitar/singer/songwriter), Mike Mogis (misc. instruments/production), and Nate Walcott (orchestral arrangements/ misc. instruments/production) with countless guest musicians appearing on individual tracks. On Cassadaga Bright Eyes's songs are deeper and more layered then ever before featuring beautiful orchestral arrangements and instruments ranging from synthesizers to dobros, mandolins, guitars, pianos, vibraphones, and varying forms of percussion. Conor's insightful lyrics are as sharp-witted as ever and his unique fragile vocals are enforced and accompanied by female choruses on many tracks. The album is soaked in a alternative country rock sound that was originated on Bob Dylan's Jon Wesley Harding. Conor has said before he likes the introduction track to an album to be unappealing to casual listeners and techniques of this are seen in the opening track "Kill or Be Killed". The non-musical elements combined with the unhinged orchestral arrangements make for a intimidating opening minute before giving way to a beautiful acoustic track. The first single off the album is the upbeat rock influenced "Four Winds". The song is layered in violent violin solos and features mandolin and 12 string guitar work. "Four Winds" is at least as strong as any other Bright Eyes single to date. "If the Brakeman Turns My Way" is a slow piano driven drunken ballad and is a prime example of that alternative country sound on the album. The influence in style and sound can be traced back to the organ combined with the vocal melody and arrangement. Later in the album is the masterful "Middleman". The sound on the song is unlike anything Bright Eyes has ever done with beautiful and eerie woodwind arrangements and African percussion. Spoken poetry penetrates the song in the most precise and appropiate moments. The album ends with the eerie and empty sounding "Lime Tree" which is actually one of my least favorite tracks of the thirteen on the album. There is a nice acoustic guitar progression throughout the song and it features some synthesizer work from Conor along with intense female chorus. // 9

Lyrics: Conor has long been compared to the new Bob Dylan and has even been approached on the subject multiple times (he finds it flattering but says he does not see the comparison himself). The comparison is easy to make seeing how they are both thoughtful lyricists, unique singers, and acoustic guitar players. Conor has been a recognized songwriter since he was thirteen and could easily be considered the best lyricist of the new millennium. "The bible's blind, the Torah's deaf, The Qa'Raan is mute/ If you burned them all together you'd get close to the truth" he attacks on the single "Four Winds". And in the upbeat "Soul Singer in a Session Band" Conor exercises his powers of alliteration and consonance in the lines "A red carpet bagger makes a blackberry call/ To the plastic piranhas in the city of salt/ Wasted wheat paste campaign post no bills on the wall/ You mean nothing to no one but that's nobody's fault". Conor has been writing thoughtful and heart felt lyrics for a long time now and is only improving and maturing in age. // 10

Overall Impression: Cassadaga is without doubt Bright Eyes's most mature and complete album. With it's orchestral arrangements, female choruses, and such a variety of misc. instruments it is musically steps above their other albums. The album is thirteen tracks long with every track being some degree of quality. "Middleman", "If the Brakeman Turns My Way", "Four Winds", and "Cleanse Song" are all some of the band's strongest songs ever. I would highly recommend this to anyone who is looking for something new that is rooted in why music use to be so good. // 9

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overall: 9
Cassadaga Reviewed by: glazeglaze, on may 14, 2007
1 of 1 people found this review helpful

Sound: Conor Oberst's (Bright Eyes' creative master and front-man) relatively new creation entitled "Cassadaga" is an album that I believe is focused more on how Conor interacts with the outside world compared to how he has expressed inner angst in previous albums. Another viewpoint of this album is current events. The name "Cassadaga" comes from the two cities with the same name. The Cassadaga in Florida is home to many psychics (aka mediums), and is nicknamed the "Psychic Center of the World." The other city in New York is also home to a Spiritualist group. These two cities are intertwined as Cassadaga, Florida was founded by George P. Colby; he attended spiritualist meetings in Lily Dale, New York, which borders Cassadaga, NY. Conor introduces a new country style of his which I had not heard in any of his previous songs. But, he does return to his niche in the emo field of music with a few songs while he sings broken hearted romances over soft pianos. I really enjoyed how eclectic Conor can be and the variety of styles he utilizes in this album. // 8

Lyrics: Definitely my favorite part of any piece of musical work is the lyrics; and Conor easily fulfills my lyrical lust with this album. Although the entire album flows smoothly with all songs telling a full story, if one was to break down each song and look at each word in each song, the lyrics do comply to the music beautifully. In my eyes, one cannot praise Bright Eyes enough for bringing forth another element in music that some do not see as paramount. Each track on "Cassadaga" is a story in it's own. The first track: "Clairaudients (Kill or Be Killed)" is a song that begins with a psychic describing fields of energy that have to do with the spiritualist beliefs. Next Conor comes in singing about what could be seen as his distrust of how the country is being run and what he thinks is going to happen. "Corporate or Colonial/The Movement is unstoppable" the first sung lyrics on the album pretty much can describe the theme of the rest of the album. Conor's genius of showing emotion through his singing can give one the feelings he is trying to express through his lyrics and the music being played. Overall, I do not know of any other musical poet in this day an age that can string words together so masterfully. // 10

Overall Impression: I could not compare this to other artists because Bright Eyes has done a brilliant job spacing themselves from the generic Pop Rock/Emo bands. At only 27, this is Conor Oberst's 10th studio album (not including EP's or singles). That is an amazing fact towards me. My favorite tracks off this album are "Cleanse Song," "Middleman," "No One Would Riot For Less." "Cleanse Song" is the most positive song on the album. After listening, I actually did feel "cleansed." Because of the non-repeating sections of this track it is mesmerizing. "Middleman" is a song that can be summed up with it's title. It is about how a person's dreams have been eroded and eventually how he/she has settled with a version of him/herself that he/she would never wish for. "No One Would Riot For Less" is a love song giving reasons why a man is leaving the hell-hole he is living in to a better place. There are also stabs at the current government with lyrics such as, "Little soldier, little insect/You know war, it has no heart/It will kill you in the sunshine/Or just as happily in the dark." The only things I can say I dislike about this CD is the few Countryish songs it includes. I do loathe that style of music and hope Bright Eyes does not return to that style. I recommend this album to anybody that likes any genre of music and if I had lost this CD I would immediately go buy it again. // 9

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overall: 8.7
Cassadaga Reviewed by: roxysomething, on may 01, 2007
0 of 0 people found this review helpful

Sound: I have been a fan of Conor Oberst's work for about two years now, and I feel that this new album is his finest work to date. Many critics brush Bright Eyes aside as a depressing, whiny band, but this album would prove them wrong. Oberst's voice is still one of a tortured poet who cannot get to grips with himself, but this album is far more uplifting than his previous work. Even the album is named after a spiritual cleansing place Oberst visited, and many tracks on this record suggest that he is a much more mature person with a clearer outlook on life itself. There are more orchestral sounds in the album than ever before, and no songs with just Conor Oberst and a guitar. This is also definetely an album which could easily be compared to Dylan's work, more than before, and is good for that. // 8

Lyrics: The lyrics on the album are undeniably about death, war and life in general. In recent interviews, Oberst said that there are many anti-war songs such as "No one would riot for less" and political songs like "Four winds", where he states that "The bible's blind, the Torah's deaf, the Qu'ran is mute, if you burn them altogether you will get to the truth". Conor Oberst has never had a strong singing voice, but this is his best singing so far and in fact, his voice has always matched his lyrics completely, and he has even said in "I'm wide awake, it's morning" that "I could have been a famous singer if I had someone else's voice, but failure's always sounded better." And that's true in his case. He also had guest vocals from a number of women and men which always strengthens his easily broken voice. // 9

Overall Impression: There is certainly not another singer quite like Conor Oberst, and no album like Cassadaga out at the moment. Bright Eyes music is always very fresh and original and certainly versatile. The most impressive songs have to be the new single "Four winds", "Hot knives", "Classic cars" and "Everything must belong somewhere". I feel that every track on the album is good in itself and highly original, and I can always relate to Oberst's political lyrics. If I lost it, I would definetely buy it again as I absolutely adore this album, and cannot stop recommending it to friends. Go buy it and you will be a satisfied customer! // 9

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overall: 9.7
Cassadaga Reviewed by: JadeFalcon5, on november 26, 2007
0 of 0 people found this review helpful

Sound: Generally I think Conor has matured a lot prior to the the release of Cassadaga. The album sounds like traditional Bright Eyes with an infusion of folk and country. I've read Cassadaga is a spiritual center in florida for psychics. You can actually hear Conor's gain of confidence in Cassadaga in tracks such as "Everything Must Belong Somewhere," and "Four Winds," which have an uplifting feel instead of older Oberst songs where the general impression is remorse. // 10

Lyrics: As expected, Conor employed his lyrical ingenuity as much as possible in Cassadaga. One of my favorite moments in Lyricism was 3 verses of "Lime Tree," where Conor narrates his moments of self-realization. It flows so well with the instrumentation and creates a very climactic closing to the CD. It's expected though, Conor always seems to wow me with lyricism. // 10

Overall Impression: Many listeners were disappointed because on Cassadaga the sound of Bright Eyes is changed to a more Folky Bluesy kind of sound instead of the previous acoustic experimental genre. It's an impressive change and really displays Conor's versatility in different genres. I find it's a refreshing change and it doesn't sound likely that Bright Eyes will return to the previous one man group sound. // 9

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overall: 9.7
Cassadaga Reviewed by: Rau Inger, on march 24, 2008
0 of 0 people found this review helpful

Sound: In the album Cassadaga, the wide variety of sounds and styles keeps the listener interested in, not only the music but the story behind it. For instance, the first track on the album, Claiaudients(Kill Or Be Killed) opens with a psychic talking about a journey that Conor must take, then fades into a simple melody that serves as a prelude for what's to come. The combination of violins, acoustic guitars, and background vocals, throughout the album, not to mention Conor's wobbly voice, gives Cassadaga a very unique and enjoyable sound. To me this album has better style and sound than the vast majority of those out there. // 9

Lyrics: Like I mentioned earlier, this album tells a story. It really isnt entirely obvious what it's about when you first hear it, but when you sit down and really listen to it, a deep and very complex tale that questions religion, truth, love and purpose throughout. Again, in the opening track the psychic tells Conor, "Cassadaga may be a premonition of a place you're going to visit", which serves, as I have previously stated, a prelude to the entire album. Conor's lyrical genious really shows in this album and his voice is showcased to an extent not matched by other albums like "I'm Wide Awake It's Morning" or "Digital Ash In A Digital Urn." // 10

Overall Impression: In my personal opionion, this is undoubtedly the best indie album out there and it shows Oberst as being deserving of the title of the next Bob Dylan. The high quality of this album really makes it hard to pick a best song, but to me, Middleman, with it's violin solos and deep lyrics, sticks out the most. I honestly love everything about it, from the opening story to the ending notes there is nothing about Cassadaga that is displeasing. If someone stole this I really wouldn't blame them, but I would have to kill them for it. Not really, but I would run out and get a new copy first thing. // 10

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