I saw 26 bands at CMJ this year, and I saw one of those bands four times in thirty-six hours. I followed them around New York City because I felt like I had no choice; they got better every time I saw them play. I felt like missing one of their shows, even one, would be a mistake. They played twelve shows and I went to one-third. Sometimes I think I should have tried to go to more. This band is called Oberhofer and they are a force to be reckoned with.
Recorded, it is the bedroom project of its frontman and namesake, NYU music composition student and Tacoma, Washington native Brad Oberhofer, who is twenty years old and plays all the instruments himself. Live, he has three other ridiculously talented musicians to back him up. Oberhofer plays the guitar with absolutely no regard for any kind of convention or tradition, his singing voice is perfect in that it is so imperfect, and he’s really fond of lots of wordless melismas and whistling and yelping, and somehow everything adds together and piles up into the most straightforward and emotional and timeless pop music I have heard in a long, long time.
Oberhofer’s best song is called “Away Frm U” and you would be well advised to listen to it right now. It sounds like this.
His latest offering is a cover of Neon Indian’s hazily nostalgic chillwave anthem “Should’ve Taken Acid With You.” For Neon Indian’s Alan Palermo, not taking acid with this onetime lover was a bad idea he probably thinks about once in a while with a shake of the head and a dismissive “Aww, shucks;” for Oberhofer, it was the biggest mistake of his life, the thing he lies awake thinking about, the event he can trace everything that’s gone wrong back to. There is as much feeling and passion in this cover as there is in all of Oberhofer’s (awesome) original material – maybe it’s his voice, disguised here behind heavy synth and a bright guitar line that almost recalls Vampire Weekend, but no less yearning – which is quite a far cry from the comparative emptiness of the original. Give it a listen, and make sure you see Oberhofer live if you have the chance.
Here is the original from last year's Psychic Chasms: