Bright Eyes - Noise Floor (Cover Artwork)

Bright Eyes

Bright Eyes: Noise FloorNoise Floor (2006)
Saddle Creek Records

Reviewer Rating: 4

Contributed by: colincolin
(others by this writer | submit your own)

A couple years ago, a band that everyone likes around these parts released a record of rarities and B-sides. That album was, rightfully so, praised for a stunning coherence of sound and attitude, a feat few compilation albums are able to attain. Well, chalk up another one right up there next to C.
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A couple years ago, a band that everyone likes around these parts released a record of rarities and B-sides. That album was, rightfully so, praised for a stunning coherence of sound and attitude, a feat few compilation albums are able to attain.

Well, chalk up another one right up there next to Cocktails & Dreams.

Conor Oberst's Bright Eyes is an act that people seem to either love or hate, and we don't have to go into that argument here. I would simply say this: If you like Bright Eyes, you will not be disappointed by this collection. If you don't like Bright Eyes, I seriously doubt this album is going to change your mind.

Noise Floor is a collection of rarities and B-sides from 1998 through 2005, marking what I would say is the highlight of Oberst's recording career: the despair-filled days of Fevers and Mirrors and the absolutely magnificent Lifted.... First, we'll start with the good of the compilation.

For one, it's remarkably well-produced. To be honest it took a few spins and some old research of EPs and B-sides to realize that the entire thing hadn't been re-recorded in a single session. It's that coherent. The record starts off amazing, with various sound bytes from the past, through the beat-oriented "I WIll Be Grateful for This Day" to my personal favorite track on the disc, "The Trees Get Wheeled Away," which I had first heard years ago on David Letterman.

And I'd say that's one of the real strongpoints of this album; Bright Eyes does some pretty obscure compilations and splits, vinyl-only releases, things that are pretty hard to find for those not motivated to be discography owners. There's a lot on this album that I had never heard before, unlike on the aforementioned Cocktails & Dreams.

The record continues...and then keeps going.

I've never really been bored with a Bright Eyes album. I really enjoy Oberst as a lyricist and this is his strongest time (my opinion, here) as far as his songwriting abilities. From my aforementioned favorite track:

Anchormen spike their blood / wear masks of mud / cucumbers cut to fill their eyes. / And so no one would know how tired they've grown / of talking and telling their lies. / While your TVs change stations / scroll messages / victims and Christians both drinking blood, / and they pray for the destruction of all hatred / more often, just those with hate for us.
And while the songwriting never fails throughout the album, around two-thirds of the way through, it musically hits a lull. While Lifted... is longer by 10 minutes, it also is a complete work that is mixed to maintain a flow and interest. Tracks 9 through 12 ("Weather Reports" through "Amy in the White Coat") on Noise Floor are all fairly Oberst-and-guitar centric, and not until the chanting, clapping sing-along of "Devil Town" does the album regain some velocity.

However, the biggest fault of this record is not in the slow second act. The biggest fault is the lack of including the now infamous "When the President Talks to God." Yes, I realize that it's available on iTunes, but some of us digital music elitists would rather not support Steve Jobs' DRM-encoded empire. Also, it seems like an obvious choice of inclusion, what with Oberst gaining press for singing it on The Tonight Show.

My personal year-end list put this record at a nice spot at #13. I really think that this is a very strong collection, and for any Oberst fan, it will be a good addition to your collection. If you've never heard Bright Eyes, this actually could be a good introduction to a large period of time where Oberst wrote some of his best songs. Just be mindful, this is not perfect, at least not nearly as perfect as Lifted.... But it's pretty damn close.


People who liked this also liked:
Jawbreaker - 24 Hour Revenge TherapyThe Lawrence Arms - The Greatest Story Ever ToldBrand New - The Devil and God Are Raging Inside MeAgainst Me! - is Reinventing Axl RoseThe Lawrence Arms - Oh! Calcutta!forgetters - forgettersThe Gaslight Anthem - The '59 SoundRise Against - Revolutions Per MinuteWeezer - WeezerAgainst Me! - Searching For A Former Clarity

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Fine Print: The following comments are owned by whoever posted them. We are not respon sible for them in any way. Seriously.
Anonymous (January 15, 2007)

Funny to read the ignorance of naive youth. Oberst's lyrics are not a banner to fly for a social cause, they are an inspiration instilled in the listener to fight for what he/she believes in-no matter how trivial or important.

FuckYouOiOiOi (January 14, 2007)

everyone knows DIY belongs to Bob Villa. he copyrighted it.

Scruffy (January 14, 2007)

Are you?

For serious, about what? It bugs me that punk kids have coopted the DIY attitude. Plenty of artists (the whole early rap scene, for instance) did things DIY before people started to see it as synonymous with punk. Being DIY in and of itself is not punk. It's rad and awesome and what have you, but the punk scene does not have a monopoly on doing things yourself and being intelligently rebellious. What, other than those things, could possibly be considered punk about Bright Eyes? It's a folk rock band!

BrendanKelly (January 14, 2007)

scruffy are you fucking retarded?

Anonymous (January 14, 2007)

the comp contains recordings from after "lifted." the song you quoted as your favorite was an outtake from "i'm wide awake it's morning." this is a good comp, but its missing a lot. the vinyl release with 5 extra songs is nice, though.

sXenester (January 14, 2007)


Anonymous (January 13, 2007)

i'm just going to assume the guy below me is trying to be ironic.

Keith19 (January 13, 2007)

Bright Eyes is for teenage girls who want to feel important and who want to "know" about politics. They get fed these lines by Oberst, and then theyy "fight for the cause". They never do think to pick up a paper and make there own opinions though.

m-oo (January 13, 2007)

Not feeling it, never have, never will...

SlowStupidHungry (January 13, 2007)

I actually have no problem with this guy. It's easy to ignore music I am indifferent about.

It's more annoying how his fans and media hype him up. The modern Ian MacKaye my ass.

klonny (January 13, 2007)


feeeding5000 (January 13, 2007)

Does no one get that I'm being moderately sarcastic? Or is it that whole internet sarcasm-not-making-sense thing? Anyway, I'm not gonna bother with putting up a list of bands to show how cool I think I am, because, honestly, arguing with people about music gets you nowhere...no one ever changes their opinions. Ever. Suffice it to say that I do not like Mr.Oberst's music, and that I think his attention is mostly undeserved. That's just. My. Opinion. I like how when I disagree with the poor excuse for "Punk Police" on this site, I get slammed. Dammit, this punknews needs some more hardcore punk police!

Benjasauruss (January 13, 2007)

If you were cool like me you'd own the "When the President Talks to God" 7"

Scruffy (January 13, 2007)

"Oberst has a more solid "punk" ethic than most punk bands I can think of."

Not to agree with anyone criticizing Conor Oberst, as Bright Eyes has released some of my favorite music EVER, but punk is about more than attitude. I'm sick of people saying "But it's got a punk ethic" like they have to convince themselves that something has to be punk in order to be good. Bright Eyes is not punk, in any sense of the word. It's just awesome.

ahoitherr (January 13, 2007)

"you fuckers talk about the casualties writing dumb lyrics, that song makes anti-flag look like operation ivy"

Oh good god...funniest thing I've read in a long time.

By the by, will one of you please explain how Connor Oberst is more punk than every punk band I listen to? It seems to be the general consensus, but without any explenation.

inagreendase (January 12, 2007)

Although I really liked the Desaparecidos stuff. Weird.

Trust me, you're not a unique case.

FuckYouOiOiOi (January 12, 2007)

that president talks to god song is shit. one of the worst songs i've ever heard, both lyrically and musically. you fuckers talk about the casualties writing dumb lyrics, that song makes anti-flag look like operation ivy.

and i hate bush (the president, not the pussy).

Anonymous (January 12, 2007)

Doesn't Colin like Taking Back Sunday too? I think he would fit in more nicely with the folks at absolutepunk.net.

Rocktopus (January 12, 2007)

I am not going to say "Oh, crap. Its all shit" because I know it isnt. I just can't get into Bright Eyes.

Although I really liked the Desaparecidos stuff. Weird.

Anonymous (January 12, 2007)

feeding is one of the biggest tools that posts here. when are you and the rest of the internet elite going to realize that just because something doesn't fit your personal taste, doesn't mean it sucks. grow up and branch out a little you myopic asshole. even if you hate bright eyes, there's no reason to not respect connor as a person.

fritobandito (January 12, 2007)

Conor Oberst is not more punk than what I listen to...

please post your Big Five punk bands, I'm actually kind of interested in this. Oberst has a more solid "punk" ethic than most punk bands I can think of.

colin (January 12, 2007)

i love reviewing bright eyes because it really brings out the shithead in people.

Archangel (January 12, 2007)

"Half of the shit he writes about is fabricated, and he makes 14 year old girls feel special for listening to him."

Never, ever reproduce. Ever.

Anonymous (January 12, 2007)

i nominate Colin for worst member on punknews.org
fuck this guy and his reviews

steveman (January 12, 2007)

Good review. This really is a pretty damn good compilation of music. While the latter parts of the album do become pretty acousticcentric, I would argue that they are not a lull at all. They just help to feature his voice and lyricist abilities. Amy In The White Coat is definetly one of my favorites off of the album

feeeding5000 (January 12, 2007)

Ahem. CRAAAAAAAP. Conor Oberst is not more punk than what I listen to...Hell, the only thing Conor Oberst is good for is making some of the bigger prison inmates happy (yeah, I know that's insensitive to both prisoners and homosexuals, but I needed to stoop low to show my loathing for Bright Eyes).

Anonymous (January 12, 2007)

Half of the shit he writes about is fabricated, and he makes 14 year old girls feel special for listening to him.

And you give this 8 stars? If I'm not mistaken, the Brand New CD was given the same score.

Are you moronic? The only remotely good song on this CD is something about being grateful and even then it's outshadowed by the worst song on Brand New's CD.

Anonymous (January 12, 2007)

I heard that Connor used to fuck Ben Weasel. True story.

How embarassing is that? The queen of emo, Mr. Oberst himself, wasn't even the catcher...that makes Ben some kind of femme that I can't even imagine.

skaboom (January 12, 2007)

I generally like Bright Eyes, but how can you say this is cohesive? His proper studio albums aren't even very cohesive. Listen to Lifted!. The production quality purposefully varies from song to song. Compare Method Acting and Bowl of Oranges to Big Picture and Don't Know When...

I haven't heard this yet, so I shouldn't make too definite a conclusion, but do you mean cohesive by "normal" standards, or Bright Eyes' standards?

fritobandito (January 12, 2007)

I haven't really given this enough listens, glad I got this reminder. I totally agree about the lull near the middle-to-end, it's hard for me to keep interest through it, which I think is odd since they're all really good songs. the tracks could have certainly been ordered better.

oh, and conor oberst is probably more punk than your favorite modern punk band.

tylerdurden8136 (January 12, 2007)

I've tried and tried and tried to like this guy. But I just can't.

ahoitherr (January 12, 2007)

Bright Eyes sucks and Conor Oberst is a douche. Seriously.

Anonymous (January 12, 2007)

It's funny, but what turned me around about Conor was not so much his music, but his integrity. Over the years, he's actually shown a ton of ethic and integrity, and my respect for that translated over to his music.

red_eye_inc (January 12, 2007)

They only included one or two songs from the "Don't Be Frightened of Turning the Page" ep, which is bullshit. Put the whole thing on there or none at all.

kingofsuck (January 12, 2007)

I'd fuck Conor Oberst.

And this compilation is pretty good.

theonetruebill (January 12, 2007)

Dear god that Leno clip is one of the worst things I've ever heard/seen in my life.

theonetruebill (January 12, 2007)

Larry Arms and Bright Eyes both suck.

Best singles/rarities/b-sides record ever? Screeching Weasel - Kill the Musicians

Ianw (January 12, 2007)

I'd fuck him.

Archangel (January 12, 2007)

I remember that Letterman performance. Scene points for me!

iconoclast (January 12, 2007)

OMG conor is like so hot. no but really, he's a great fucking musician.

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