While Conor Oberst toils away in the studio for an all-new 2007 release, Saddle Creek records is rolling out “Noise Floor,” a collection of old, lost and recovered songs from Bright Eyes to tide us all over.
Like all “lost tracks B-side” collections, this disc will best serve only the most devoted music nerds (myself included) and those Bright Eyes fans who already know all the movements and lyrics of other albums.
But, for an act that’s been around roughly 10 years now, Bright Eyes has reinvented itself more times than one might think. It’s part of the reason Oberst has been able to appeal to so many audiences — the folkies, the Pro Tool-ers and, of course, the emo kids — and it’s part of the reason this collection is as interesting as it is.
Here is a true sampler. This album features songs like “The Vanishing Act,” one of earliest BE songs; “I Will Be Grateful For This Day,” a recent B-side; and “Seashell Tale,” an M. Ward cover. Odds are, if you enjoy any one of those songs, you won’t be a fan of the others.
But that makes “Noise Floor” the perfect album for new Bright Eyes listeners. The disc offers a survey of just about every phase Oberst experimented with and, based on what one likes from this disc, there’s going to be a whole Bright Eyes album of similar-styled songs he or she will want to pick up.
Without getting too Creek crazy, “Noise Floor” no doubt will be bought by every Bright Eyes fan, and new listeners would do well to give it a spin.
It’s the casual listeners I’m worried about. There’s a reason these songs were all B-sides, and any of the truly great Bright Eyes songs will still be found in other places.
If you are that casual listener, wait for 2007.
“Noise Floor (Rarities: 1998-2005)”
*** (out of five stars)