Conor Oberst launches Million Stars Records; signs The Felice Brothers…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , — @ 8:59 am April 9, 2024

The Felice Brothers, Valley of Abandoned Songs, to be released June 28 on Million Stars Records.

By Tim McMahan,

The first I heard of Conor Oberst’s new record label came via a press release with the headline: “The Felice Brothers Sign to Conor Oberst’s New Record Label Million Stars.” Wait, what? New record label? Isn’t Bright Eyes (and Conor Oberst) signed to Dead Oceans? 

In the press release, Conor explained:

“I first encountered the Felice Brothers in 2007 after being given some of their music by a friend. I liked it a lot, but there was something I couldn’t put my finger on—singular and mysterious. An iconoclastic version of what some lazy people call ‘Americana.’ I subsequently met them and played shows together. They became some of my best friends, family, really. I put out two of their records on the label I co-owned at the time, called Team Love. Then we started to perform together with them as my backing band and made a record of mine called Salutations. Needless to say, I love this band, and when I asked that horrible question, ‘Who is your favorite band?’ I always answer ‘The Felice Brothers.’ 

“So when Ian sent me this new collection of songs and told me they just planned to put it up on the internet, I kind of flipped out, because they were so goddamn good. And then I did something I swore I would never do again: I started a new record label. This is my third. It is called Million Stars, and I am so proud to say the new Felice Brothers album is our first release. I can’t quit them. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.”

So, yes, this would be Oberst’s third record label creation. The first was Saddle Creek Records, which he launched with a bunch of folks including his brother Justin, Mike Mogis (now of ARC Studios and Bright Eyes), and Robb Nansel, who still runs that label. The second label, Team Love, was launched in 2003 with his Oberst’s pal Nate Krenkel, who also was his former manager and an A&R dude at Sony ATV Music Publishing. Team Love continues to operate out of New Paltz, New York, though Oberst apparently is no longer involved. 

Based on the press release, it doesn’t sound like the idea of creating a new record label was a premeditated decision, more of a spur-of-the-moment deal, and really, isn’t that main ingredient in every success story?

Valley of Abandoned Songs will be released on June 28 on Million Stars. The 13-song collection consists of recordings primarily from sessions for the band’s 2019 album, Undress, as well as their most recent release, 2023’s Asylum On The Hill, both of which were captured live in an 1870s church with the band’s current lineup of Ian Felice (guitar/vocals), James Felice (piano/vocals), Jeske Hume (bass), and Will Lawrence (drums).

The band will, of course, be touring Europe and the U.S. The closest pass to little ol’ Omaha is Chicago (July 27, Beat Kitchen).

Check out the first single, “Crime Scene Queen”: 

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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 © 2024 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

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