INDIEchouette


AN ANGLE FOR BRIGHT EYES
4 August, 2006, 646 pm
Filed under: Music

This morning was different from no other.  I went to sleep around 4 after a bout of ranting on the [adultswim] message boards, and then around 12, my mother came in playfully screaming to wake me up.  Normally, I would be fine with this, but seeing as I went to sleep around sunrise, I was not.  I’m sort of becoming nocturnal, and I need at least 9 hours to function well.  In fact, no more, no less.  I tried to go back to sleep, but seeing as my mom was on the phone with my 10-year-old cousin Shannon, and also seeing as my mom paces the halls and talks very loudly when she’s on the phone, I gave up my attempts to sleep and rolled out of bed, went to the bathroom, and then stumbled back into my room groggily to get on the computer.  This morning, I didn’t feel like MySpacing so soon (because it’s been pretty placid lately) and instead I searched Google for a Quizilla quiz to occupy some time.  I always do that.  You know, “What’s your stereotype?” “Wut typ uv myuziq shud u lisn 2?”  I chose a “What band should you listen to?”  Simple.  Three questions long.  My result was predictable:  I got The Arcade Fire.  No big.  So I figured that this quiz might have good music suggestions for someone who’s always expanding her large library.  Naturally, I checked out all possible results.  And they were, you know, Sufjan, Elliott, Cursive, and a few others I’ve heard of, but the only one I hadn’t heard of was the last one, An Angle.

Now, how An Angle escaped me in my quest for bands like Bright Eyes, I don’t know.  The quiz results said to listen to them because you’ll think you’re listening to Bright Eyes.  So NATCH I made haste and skidaddled over to Amazon, my savior, and did a big old search.  I listened to a sample, and while I was listening to the guitar and waiting for the voice to come in, I thought, “There is no way the vocalist can sound JUST like Conor Oberst.”  And that’s that.  And then the vocals came in–and sure enough, it sounded just like Conor.

My first thought was impression–how?  And they had the whole folk-indie thing down.  How could a Bright Eyes fan not adore An Angle?  I didn’t know.  So I shimmied over to their site and watched a video.  And my amusement only lasted for a few minutes, because that’s when I found out how a Bright Eyes fan could hate or at least dislike An Angle.

Conor Versus Kris::

Conor Oberst is an emaciated, truly unhappy Catholic boy.  You can see it in his photographs, you can hear it in his voice, and you can read it in his interviews.  It’s not fair to say that everything makes him unhappy, or that he’s as unhappy as Elliott Smith and will kill himself.  He drinks, likely to drown his unhappiness, or so he says in his songs, and he refers to the fact that love is hard to come by and that he is allegedly unlucky in love (or that his characters are), but that love is nonetheless real and out there.  And he’s beautiful in his small vocal imperfections.  He can write music and metaphors like no other and most importantly, he knows how to emote.

Kris is a young man with messy dark hair, which looks sort of like what Conor’s would if he grew it out a lot.  He’s handsome with large lips; that’s what I noticed in his music videos.  And he has a very nice, happy smile.  I suppose his look is better marketed (personally, though, I will always think Conor is infinitely enticing).  He’s not emaciated, either; he’s a normal-sized guy with a normal job.  Normalish.  So his voice sounds just like Oberst’s, and that is obviously a rip-off.  On first listen, he sounds exactly like his idol, but if you look into it, he just has a happier voice and you can tell he’s acting out the emotion and that his voice could be pop-star perfect because he doesn’t sound genuinely strained, especially on the high notes.  And he doesn’t take advantage of dynamics as much as Conor does.  He also sings about being drunk a lot.  And drinking.  His lyrics are even rip-offs; he uses some of the very metaphors that Conor created.  This plagarism would be both appalling and appealing if he did it cleanly; however, some of the lyrics are so clearly stolen that they just don’t make sense.  Because his vocal imperfections aren’t genuine, it makes the songs he’s singing a little more unbearable.  Kris is probably some handsome emo kid who likes Bright Eyes and punk pop.

And look at the album covers.

Bright Eyes/Fevers And Mirrors/2000

An Angle/And Take It With A Grain Of Salt/2004

Uncanny resemblance, no?  Of course, their latest CD cover is a little less copycat, but still, take note of the title.  What has Oberst always sung of?  What did I say Anaya has overdone and sings about every song about?  One word: alcohol.

An Angle/We Can Breathe Under Alcohol/2005

Also take this into consideration: On January 25, 2005, Bright Eyes relased two albums, “I’m Wide Awake It’s Morning,” a gorgeous countryish, folk-saturated album featuring the amazing Emmylou Harris, and “Digital Ash In A Digital Urn,” a more pop/electronic-oriented album with a more upliftng sound that’s just as amazing as its fraternal twin, but on a different level.  This would mean nothing if An Angle had released “We Can Breathe Under Alcohol” earlier in 2005, like in January, or even in 2004.  Because “We Can Breathe Under Alcohol” is An Angle’s version of “Digital Ash.”  Yes, if they’d released it before or about the time of “Digital Ash,” I would totally give them props for doing their own thing and hey–GMTA.  Guess what?  May 17, 2005.  Most artists let out teasers and previews about a month or two before they release their new albums.  For Bright Eyes, that would be the end of December or the end of November, perhaps.  Assuming that it was the beginning of December that they let out teasers and such, An Angle had 5 to 6 months before they released their album.  Even so, if they just bought “Digital Ash” the day it came out or whatever, that would still give them 4 whole months.  I can write a poem a day.  In fact, anyone could, and for An Angle, it was made easy, considering their songs are just Bright Eyes metaphors strung into an album.  I’m not trying to be overly harsh.  I like An Angle’s sound despite lack of honesty and sincerity and their poseurness (even their video for “White Horse” was just a slightly altered take on “The First Day of My Life,” for Allah’s sake, and “Green Water” resembled a happier “Bowl of Oranges” video).  But for a band not even to admit at all that they have been influenced by Bright Eyes is aggravating, especially considering that they’re not genius and lack songwriting skills.  Kris Anaya is doing the opposite of what Jason Mraz did for Bright Eyes.  He’s trying to understand lyrics and songs that are too deep, and he’s pulling the wrong details out, like the alcohol and the pop culture slanderings.  So listen to Bright Eyes, not An Angle.  Please.  Even though Kris Anaya is handsome.  Conor is genuine, genius, and handsome.  And listen to Jason Mraz, too, for the hell of it.

I wonder what Bright Eyes thinks of An Angle?

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28 Comments so far
Leave a comment

In Kris’ defence, he has listed Bright Eyes as an influence many times. Plus it takes months for an album to be released after it’s recorded when on a label. I think the albums coming out around the same time was a funny coincidence.

Comment by Mike

I’m thinking that we can only find genuinity in Omaha, which only makes me want to visit it wiht more passion. It’ll be like Whitney Houston going to Israel, except less crack.

Conor is probably the most relatable adult on the face of the earth right now. Although it seems to me that he hasn’t really grown into the adult way of life yet, only him and Jenny have been able to put into words EXACTLY what I’m feeling 99% of the time. I like Jenny for when I’m feeling more girly.

Comment by Edawg

hey, cool website. i first found it when i searched “conor oberst an angle” on google to see if anyone else was as pissed as i am. good job comparing them. i sent An Angle a message on myspace and the guy who replied, matt the bassist, was super nice and said:

“there have been many moments of similarities between an angle and bright eyes. we are well aware of that. i don’t know where the rumor began that said kris hated bright eyes. truth be told, bright eyes was one of kris’ main influences/favorite musicians for a while. to the best of my knowledge kris has never denied that fact, its just one of those cases where someone ran their mouth on some message board and it spread like wildfire. ”

he said much more but i wont put that all here, you can email me if you want more.
i also noticed you have other posts about conor.. i think you should write one about how when people pretend that they know him and try to defend him from the screaming 13 year old girls by saying “oh my god, you dont even know his real music. he doesnt like all this attention”, they are even more annoying. sorry if that sentence was hard to follow. haha
-christie

Comment by christie

conor is the most amazing singer/songwriter that lives.. and will live.. in the history of time. if an angle wants to try and be like him and his band, then they are just embarrassing themselves. trying to be as good as conor and stealing his stuff is pretty much suicide. good post!

Comment by emma

Wow. Commenting on this 10 years later is pretty interesting. Funny how you say “pretty much suicide” and the band didn’t last too long after this post was made.

But, personally, Elliott Smith is the best singer/songwriter to ever live. Conor would be 2nd. ;)

Comment by Rory Collins

Jesus, you are right on.

Comment by Lauren

every band has its influences but copying style and content is just pure plagerism :)
oh well, it shouldnt matter too much but it obviously does hehe x
by the way, i saw bright eyes play in birmingham, UK, it was amazing!

Comment by mark :)

Conor is a strung-out boy, who writes about his own life situations, as well as others. Some of his songs are actually fictitous. Most released after “Letting Off The Happiness” Were written while either, under the influence of Vodka and Whiskey, or fried by Coke. Cocaine, that is.

Comment by Sean

Maybe Kris admires Conor ALOT, and makes him his rolemodel. But Kris is a little happier than Conor. So what, I think that if Conor knew how much Kris admired him, than he would think it a nice thing.

Comment by taylor

Mike-
Eh, yeah, I have considered that in the year since I wrote this. It would be something of a conspiracy if they just pored over the Bright Eyes albums for a few months and stole from them directly to make an album. Actually, that’s almost funny when you think about it. Still, though, if you’ve heard An Angle’s “White Horse” and actually listened to the lyrics, they would be good…if they were parts of ten different songs. He just hops around from subject to subject and I honestly don’t know what he’s trying to say, still, and I’ve been trying to decipher since I first heard it, hoping that I could credit him somehow. I just think he’s a Bright Eyes fan who blew his own obsession out of proportion and tried to make money off of it, which is cool, I guess. Sometimes I feel bad for writing so harshly about An Angle, but they really haven’t earned my respect yet. If anything, I’m getting Kris Anaya some publicity. Hey, his fans have the opportunity to fight back, but I don’t hear anything from diehards, supposing there even are any.

Edawg-
HAHA WHITNEY HOUSTON AND ISRAEL EXCEPT WITH LESS CRACK!!! Oh, gawd. I feel that way about Bright Eyes/Rilo Kiley, too. Bright Eyes is for when I want to feel ballsy, and Rilo Kiley is for when I want to feel feminine…even the Blake Sennett singing songs.

Christie-
That’s sweet that they were so nice about everything. I guess I’ll give them credit for being kind people, even if I don’t particularly like their music. Yeah. Thirteen-year-old screaming girls are less annoying than people who try to use the defense that he doesn’t like the attention. Got it. I agree. Why would he be in the music industry anyway if he didn’t know that he was going to get attention from it? Honestly. I don’t like attention all too much, but I write anyway and generate a little traffic. I’ll consider a post on that. I mean the Bright Eyes part.

Emma-
I think if they did it more subtly, they’d be worthwhile. Some of their more recent stuff is alright; I just watched an okay video (I forget what it was called already…). Granted, I didn’t love the song, but everything made more sense lyrically. They just should have done that sooner. Or maybe they should have started as a Bright Eyes cover band and then worked their way up to independence. That would have impressed me. I mean, Conor Oberst takes influences from all over the place, too, but he’s real subtle about it.

Lauren-
THANKS!

Mark-
I am jealous like you have no idea. Although I can brag that I saw The Arcade Fire live and it was life-changing, but Bright Eyes (and Edawg ^^^^) got me into indie in the first place.

Sean-
Yeah, that’s part of why I like Bright Eyes so much. He can tell a story. Bah, I can picture someone getting high off of Coca-Cola. Hahaha.

Taylor-
Eh, I’m sure Kris does admire Conor a ton, and yeah, it’s impressive that he can do a Conor Oberst voice perfectly, but I feel like he’s taking something that’s already pure and trying to make it better. It’s kind of like if someone took your baby blanket and tried to pimp it out with gems and wash out stains and old familiar smells and sell it back to you. I mean, cool, but not really, you know? Would you buy it? And up until Cassadaga came out, I found myself trying to defend Bright Eyes on Conor Oberst’s behalf, because his innocence was astonishing, but I don’t really feel the need anymore because he lost the waver.

Comment by leindiemeister

thank you!! an angle is completely unoriginal

Comment by leah

I agree with you all, An Angle is a definate rip off of BE, but we must admit that they do have SOME talent. I think the bashing is getting a little carried away.
I’ve seen BE live seven times. Conor & Co. are even more amazing live, and if you haven’t seen them yet I suggest you do. He’s currently touring!

Comment by Amanda

Leah-
Agreed, mostly on their song “White Horse.” That was kind of gross.

Amanda-
Yes, if they were a cover band, I’d be shocked out of my pants. And I’d like to hear a Bright Eyes cover by An Angle. That would be cool. And I envy you greatly. I suspect the tickets are pricey, though; Jenny Lewis was only $20 and the Arcade Fire was like $30 but Bright Eyes is far bigger than either, I think.

Comment by leindiemeister

I’ve been a professional musician/songwriter for years. You work on songs and albums for months if not years prior to recording. REcording takes several more months, then there is duplication and distribution which takes even more time. There is really no way that An Angle and Drive thru could pull all of this off in a matter of months. These albums coming out at similar times is just coincidental. It’s quite obvious that An Angle is influenced by Bright Eyes, much as it’s obvious that Conor Oberst is heavily influenced by Elliott Smith, another Nebraska native. In fact if you go to Nebraska (I lived there for 23 years) you’ll find a ton of artists that are all very similar in their sound. Conor isn’t nearly as original as everyone might think. I love his music, but his influences are obvious, and his sound is taken from many of them. An angle is no different. By the way, I love the fact the White Horse is so sporadic. It’s all about being coked out (hence the title) and that’s exactly how you’re mind works in that state. You can’t concentrate on one topic or idea. It’s just automatic writing.

Comment by luke

I like An Angle. A lot.

I’ve listened to Bright Eyes ages before I even knew about An Angle.

I just enjoy the music. Honestly.

Politics just ain’t my thing.

Comment by Lyss

If Kris is good enough to mirror Conor’s music the way he does, then he must be just as amazing. So for everyone that thinks its a bad thing that Kris makes similar music, you need write off Conor’s originality. If you haven’t noticed, Conor has done the same to Elliott smith. I am pretty sure no one wants to do that. Just because of similarities that only improve their music does not seem like much of a reason not to accept them. “Every one is up tight”-Elliott Smith. Elliott is better than them both anyway. So yeah get some.

Comment by josh howell

While Elliott Smith has been recording since 1991, he didn’t release his first album until 1994, which is when Conor released his first album with–correct me if I’m wrong–Commander Venus. But I do see where you’re coming from. Elliot Smith was older and I guess technically an Omaha native (right? This is all from memory), and granted, I also believe that he was best at what all three of them did. Namely: He was a sensitive soul makin’ music.

I’m just saying, though…Bright Eyes’ lyrics make sense and have serious depth, no matter how Oberst might rip content or voice off of Smith. An Angle’s lyrics often don’t make sense and seriously lack depth, which is PRECISELY why I posted this in the first place.

But remember: I wrote this article over two years ago. I haven’t really listened to An Angle since, and I’ve seriously cut back on my Bright Eyes intake while amping up my intake of other artists. So if you’re trying to analyze An Angle’s work to date, I don’t know anything recent about Kris Anaya. And if you’re trying to compare it to any of Oberst’s new work, I didn’t like Cassadaga and I haven’t even attempted to listen to Conor Oberst and the Mystic Valley Band just because it’s so like Cassadaga and so unlike the albums I loved (Lifted, I’m Wide Awake It’s Morning, Digital Ash in a Digital Urn).

Maybe I’ll do an update post after some extra research.

Why this post gets so many hits, I’ll never know.

Comment by indiechouette

An angle is a 100% fucking rip off of brighteyes. Conor Oberst is a GOD and a genius. This wannab kid needs to go S on a D. Fucking peice of shit. srsly if your going to sound JUST like a fucking artist and your songs are going to be almost fucking identical (attempt to be identical, more like) in meaning, then at least give the fucking artist the props. Douchbag peice of shit. Conors lyrics will always go deeper than An Angles ever could. You can hear Conors passion through his voice. This Kris asshole can go suck a fuck.

Comment by Louca

and wtf are you talking about “conor has done the same to elliott” stfu, please. They’re both 100% original. Conor started his fucking music career when he was a child. I highly doubt he intended to sound exactly like Elliott Smith while he was still wetting his fucking bed, moron.

Comment by Louca

amen! That’s the best way i have ever heard explained. listen to bright eyes not An Angle(aka Bright eyes: the sequel)

Comment by scott

I seriously thought an angle was a conspiracy where kris is actually a secret identity of conor oberst
there voices are almost identical and i see alot of parallel in their lyrical styles

Comment by Kyle

I know kris personally. Hes a very nice guy… and I love an angle. But even I can say that he stole way too much from Bright Eyes.
What I find funny though, is that Kris’s lyrics never ever matched up to Conors. Ever. Even when He was ripping them off, they never were as good.
Anyway, An Angle is broken up now anyway and Kris is doing his own acoustic thing, which is amazing. So… argument over.

Comment by yoyoma

Louca-
[and really everyone citing Elliott Smith’s influence on the music of Conor Oberst]
Yes. Elliott Smith did influence some of Conor Oberst’s in-the-middle music. But Oberst also has some other clear influences, including but by no means limited to Bob Dylan and Neil Young. Oberst’s music is a potpourri of all these artists. The thing about Mr. Anaya’s music is that it is not. It is an imitation of Mr. Oberst’s music. It still maintains the influences of Mr. Smith, Mr. Dylan, and Mr. Young, but not with the same purity or with the same intentions. If Mr. Anaya had decided to combine these artists on his own, there would have been radically different results. He is an admirer of Mr. Oberst just as you and I are.

Yoyoma-
Eh, kind of sad to hear that An Angle is over, but I’m extremely curious to hear Kris’ new stuff.

Comment by indiechouette

I don’t know I understand your article, but who cares I like the music and if he ripped him off so what. Better than the 90 cookie cutter neon pop/punk artists that are around these days. I wish more people would rip-off better music so there wouldn’t as much bad music as there is.

Comment by T

T-
OBVIOUSLY An Angle is preferable to cookie cutter pop/punk. Obviously. My post is just about the fact that An Angle is incredibly similar to Bright Eyes, in more categories than just voice. I mean, there’s musical style, artistic choices, lyrical choices. When I wrote this, nobody else had written an in-depth analysis. Mind, this was over three years ago. At this point, as of August 2009, I haven’t even read the article in a few months. My original attempt was simply to provide an interesting look at the comparison. I wasn’t trying to say, “Oh blah blah blah An Angle sucks blah blah blah I’m fifteen years old and a fangirl and I have no evidence to back up my claims blah blah blah.” It’s an analysis. I do plan on revisiting this article soon.

Kyle-
Hahaha so good.

Comment by indiechouette

Review The Album Baby Prayers, it is the greatest thing I have heard in a long fucking time, it is better than bright eyes first album!

Comment by Justin Blackburn

People haven’t bothered you on this in a while. So I’m going to disagree with everything everyone has said so far. I think Kris Anaya is actually a medium sized puddle of water and that Conner Oberst is an orange traffic cone. Agree or you’re wrong.

Comment by Drew

I can dig it.

Comment by indiechouette




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