Bright Eyes | Noise Floor (Rarities: 1998-2005) (Saddle Creek)

This Bright Eyes collection is worth hearing, and even solid Bright Eyes fans can appreciate studio recordings.


cd_brighteyesBright Eyes has teased us a bit lately. Nearly two years after the two-album release, rumors of a spring 2007 LP linger. Meanwhile, the band keeps us content with a live album, Motion Sickness, and now the 16-track B-sides collection, Noise Floor.

This Bright Eyes collection is worth hearing, and even solid Bright Eyes fans can appreciate studio recordings of songs like "I've Been Eating for You," but those diehard, Oberst cult fans might find the compilation a little pricey and repetitive for songs already scattered throughout various EPs.

Let's run through it track for track, highlight for highlight.

Mirrors and Fevers (Don't Be Frightened of Turning the Page)

"I Will Be Grateful for This Day" (I Will Be Grateful for This Day single) is the title track to the 2001, two-song EP that also featured "When the Curious Girl…." Ironically, this sure-sounding Bright Eyes song is written by Mike Mogis (Bright Eyes producer and performer), and it is possibly the basis and influence for "Gold Mine Gutted." Both songs contain reminiscent, conversational words that connect most obviously in "Gold Mine Gutted" with, "Well, I lagged behind/So you got ahead," and I Will Be Grateful's "So you got ahead of me/And I guess I'm still dragging behind."

"Trees Get Wheeled Away" (Lost Highway: Lost and Found Vol. 1)

"Drunk Kid Catholic" (Drunk Kid Catholic)

"Spent on Rainy Days" (Home Vol. 4) is another Bright Eyes song that can't be credited to Oberst alone; this time, Britt Daniel of Spoon steps in to help. Oberst and Daniel wrote two songs together, this one and "Let the Distance Bring Us Together" on an EP that included two exclusive originals, Daniel's "You'll Get Yours," and Oberst's "Southern State." "Spent on Rainy Days" is among Bright Eyes' best, measuring up with "First Day of My Life," while taking an angrier "Calendar Hung Itself" speed. If you haven't yet heard this one, that's an indication that you need this album.

"The Vanishing Act" (Too Much of a Good Thing, Is a Good Thing)

"Soon You'll Be Leaving Your Man" (Motion Sickness) was released in 2000 alongside the title track in which Oberst creates a fuller effect to his whispering restraint by overdubbing his vocals. The percussion sounds like a horse galloping, perhaps to explain the girls "fleeting action" to ditch the cynical boyfriend and catch the oddly optimistic Conor.

"Blue Angels Air Show" (Devil in the Woods), one of the best rarities from the compilation, on an EP that also featured Saddle Creek's Rilo Kiley and Conor's older brother's band, Sorry About Dresden. Another simple model of vastly different phraseology rolls off Oberst's tongue with, "I watch you stand next to me with your hand over your mouth/And join the crowd's heavy gasp/One for each time they pass overhead." Common themes that were heavily emphasized in Oberst's 2005 songwriting, the lottery and doors opening, pop up in songs like this one.

"Weather Reports" (unreleased M. Ward EP)

"Seashell Tale" (unreleased M Ward EP) this one actually attributes the composer to Ward. The quiet country love song of "Seashell Tale" offers nostalgic lyrics: "Let's go bet some money on the order of the horses." Another must-have for Bright Eyes fans.

"Bad Blood" (Album Leaf with Bright Eyes)

"Amy in the White Coat) (Lover I Don't Have to Love, There is No Beginning to the Story)

"Devil Town" (Late Great Daniel Johnston: Discovered Covered)

"I've Been Eating (for You)" (Drunk Kid Catholic) released in 2001 and formerly titled "Basketball" during prior tours, the song gets its deserved recognition under this rarity compilation, but is an obvious choice to be excluded from an LP. If it weren't for the light guitar strokes, Oberst's dragged out, painful quiver would be the only noise at all. The Minus 5's "I'm not bitter" parallels this song well. Both songwriters claim that their relationship is in the past when in actuality they are never more attached.

"Happy Birthday To Me (Feb 15)" (Drunk Kid Catholic, and A Collection of Songs: Recorded '95-'97)

"Motion Sickness" (Motion Sickness)

Unfortunately, this compilation focuses only on tracks from 1998 to 2005, so fans searching for demos or tidbits from future releases might have to suffer through the winter. B

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