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Seismic-Sound Album Review: Oberhofer “Time Capsules II” by Ian Stephens

April 2, 2012

Oberhofer and Seismic-Sound share special space in each other’s time capsules. In 2010 a young music blog stumbled across the glistening, clattering howls of a Tacoma teenager who had cannonballed into the bigger pond of NYC (Read 1st interview here). A very short time (and hours of listening) later the first interview with 19 year old Brad Oberhofer (as well as the VERY first interview for Seismic-Sound)  was in the books and Seismic-Sound was sure Brad would find the big time in The Big Apple.

Fast forward to 2012 and Oberhofer is a breakout artist breaking big. Feathers in the 21 year old’s cap include love from MTV, David Letterman and a shiny new album produced by Steve Lillywhite (of U2, Dave Matthews Band, and Travis fame) deals with Sobe, Spin Magazine and Samsung. Fear not hipsters, he’s not packing out Key Arena…yet.

Time Capsules II is Oberhofer’s first cohesive body of work, a blend of fresh tracks and fresh takes of hallmark cuts from previous releases.  This album is a must add to summer playlists, a play it from beginning to end, wind in the hair ride that makes you wish you’d bought that convertible.

Under Lillywhite, the lo-fi bedroom studio sound that defined previous Oberhofer tracks has been deftly tightened up. The music vehicle is still a jangly jalopy of angst and euphoria but now there’s a finely tuned racing engine under the hood.  

From the slow cinematic curtain lift  of Heart to the barbaric yawp hooting of Oo0o, Time Capsules II is road trip theatre mapped by new school text message track titles and enough nostalgia to include a Landline . Oberhofer is a lovable protagonist, a trendsetting old soul with enigmatic sincerity. We trust his story because he doesn’t say too much and his reckless hijinks remind us of life before worry. The brilliant stroke is the recurring theme of wistful weight, italicized in Haus, that balances whimsical freewheeling with emotional gravity.

Oberhofer displays the control of a wise-beyond-his-years musician who understands good drama. Tight gear shifting is effortlessly precarious and fueled by an endless reservoir of nervous teen energy that threatens to spontaneously combust.  Yr Face depicts a sacred dirge gone wild as litany disintegrates into tribal drums circa Lord of the Flies. His broad range sweeps from devolution to evolution. The whistling I Could Go kicks harmlessly at a rock before unleashing a lush, anthemic roar. Don’t let the tinkling music box fool you. This guy makes BIG music.

As an artist Oberhofer’s fluttering style reflects his personal aversion to being pinned down. The butterfly movement of Gold mirrors his flightiness in interviews when grilled about musical influences. If you hear Animal Collective, MGMT and The Beach Boys you’re not the first. Just let Brad be his own man. That’s clearly working very well.

In a parallel universe the 2012 summer movie blockbuster features Buster Keaton, Teen Wolf and the ghost of Brian Wilson on a butterfly hunt at the beach…in Technicolor…the soundtrack is Time Capsules II.  Purse string theory cost of admission is only $8.00. See you at the show.

DO NOT miss Oberhofer’s return to the Pacific Northwest (with band in tow) when he plays the Sunset in Ballard on April 5th! Seismic- Sound sees big venues in his future.

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