Arts, Music

VHS Visuals Bring ‘A Little Uncanny’ to a Powerful Emotional Center

Conor Oberst released the quiet, pensive Ruminations, which was recorded in just 24 hours on a wintery Omaha day, back in 2016. The album was sparse and simple, featuring just acoustic guitar, piano, harmonica, and vocals. “A Little Uncanny” on the other hand is a raw, energetic change of direction.

The music video harkens back to the time of VHS and low-definition MTV (that is, the 1980s) while simultaneously portraying Oberst as an adolescent in the year 2041, donning his signature folksy hat. Oberst, a poignant and consistent lyricist is clearly drawing historical parallels that echo the sentiment of his side project, The Desaparecidos, an outright-leftist punk band.

One realizes how much he or she has missed Oberst’s high-stakes lyrics in ‘A Little Uncanny’ when he sings in his reliably poetic fashion, “You know ol’ Ronnie Reagan he was a shoe salesman’s son / He got himself in the movies / Yeah he impressed everyone / He thought trial by fire was America’s fate / he made a joke of the poor people and that made him a saint / But he was tan enough / He was rich enough / He was handsome like John Wayne and there was no one at the country club who didn’t feel the same.”

These verses, coupled with the mash of home videos as suggested in the title, are likely to bear an uncanny resemblance to the lives of listeners as well.

Salutations, the follow up to Ruminations, is its bluesier, rocking companion record. With a full, talented band including Nate Walcott, Jim James, Gillian Welch, and Jonathan Wilson, “A Little Uncanny” makes this relation very clear—at least as clear as grainy VHS tapes allow.

February 1, 2017