Today's rock and roll criticism seems to be forcing artists in a irreconcilable amount of descriptors, with pigeonholing, accusatory fad-mongering, and sometimes, immediate dismissal based on aesthetic signifiers. But strip away the primp and polish and studio magic, and at the core of a rock record you'll find the song-- verse, chorus, hook, chord progression, etc. Brad Oberhofer can write a song, and a catchy one at that, and whether we're dealing with the sloppy mess of his early recordings (buzzy, beloved, unpredictable) or the polish of his Steve Lillywhite produced debut, one thing has remained constant: these recordings are built of the stuff that sticks with you. Perhaps this is why Daniel Glass was so eager to snatch up the kid after his run during CMJ 2010
Oberhofer's vocals always seem to include something in between a scream and a yelp, the perfect encapsulation of Brad's boundless frontman swagger. This works on stage, but in the studio, it's trickier to bottle. Instead, the energy on Time Capsules II
stems from dynamics and shifty layers instead of tempo. Songs like "I Could Go" have morphed from runaway trains to more stable explorations of the strength of his hooks. "HEART" sounds more like a song inside Brad's head than something he could have produced on stage before going into the studio, and that's the main appeal of his debut. To get a taste of what Oberhofer can do with unlimited resources and a professional knob-twister to steer him.
Some of these songs have been on the chopping block for several years. My favorite track is "Landline," only because it's a bit structurally tighter than "Away Frm U" or "I Could Go") which sound a bit worn and worked out (who knows how many permutations they've experienced?). "Landline" seems like leaner songwriting, the kind of compact tune we can expect on future Oberhofer work. As an homage to the work thus far, and more so as an indicator of longevity, Time Capsules II
works. Just remember it deserves better than just being buried in your collection for reminiscing when Brad hits it big.