Bright Eyes signs to Dead Oceans, to tour in 2020; new Meth Head Steamroller…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , — @ 1:47 pm January 21, 2020

Bright Eyes in the recording studio.

by Tim McMahan,

The Bright Eyes eye chart clue from Instagram.

The clues were right in front of your eyes. Yesterday followers of the Bright Eyes Instagram site were treated to photos of cryptic concert posters that all but claimed a new record and tour.

Then this morning NME reported Bright Eyes will release a new album on Dead Oceans sometime in 2020. The End of the Road Festival in Larmer Tree Gardens in Dorset, England, Sept. 3-6 will be just one stop on a world tour that likely will take Conor Oberst, Nate Walcott and Mike Mogis everywhere (but not to Omaha, not yet anyway).

A video of the trio in the studio with a chamber orchestra was posted on the Dead Oceans twitter feed. This from the Dead Oceans press release:

And while 2020 is a year of milestones for the band, it’s also the year Bright Eyes returns, newly signed to indie label Dead Oceans. Amidst the current overwhelming uncertainty and upheaval of global and personal worlds, Oberst, Mogis, and Walcott reunited under the moniker as both an escape from, and a confrontation of, trying times. Getting the band back together felt right, and necessary, and the friendship at the core of the band has been a longtime pillar of Bright Eyes’ output. For Bright Eyes, this long-awaited re-emergence feels like coming home.”

Kind of, but if they were coming home, they would be coming back to Saddle Creek Records.

No one really thought that Bright Eyes was a dead entity. The collective is just another Oberst incarnation; it just happens to be his best incarnation. There’s a story there somewhere about why two of the crown jewels — Bright Eyes and Cursive — parted ways with the label they helped build. It can’t be money issues — could they really make that much more going to a different label (or creating their own)? Not likely; not these days.

While Oberst’s other recording projects were released on other labels, Bright Eyes was — and will always be — considered a Saddle Creek entity, no matter what Dead Oceans says or does. Saddle Creek was where the magic happened. The fact that Bright Eyes didn’t return to that label is the only sad note in this good news story.

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Maybe just as important as that Bright Eyes news is that Meth Head Steamroller — a project by the mysterious Benny Leather and mad king renaissance producer Ian Aeillo — dropped a new EP in Bandcamp. Enjoy!

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Read Tim McMahan’s blog daily at — an online music magazine that includes feature interviews, reviews and news. The focus is on the national indie music scene with a special emphasis on the best original bands in the Omaha area. Copyright © 2020 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

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