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An Angle
We Can Breathe Under Alcohol

Artistic debt is one thing. The rip-off is another. And, as the rock-journalistika, you've gotta be cautious when casting the judgment of one or the other. As example of scene one, Blonde Redhead, Broadcast, and Songs:Ohia all began life not only borrowing heavily from, respectively, Sonic Youth, Stereolab, and Will Oldham, but had their debut discs released by those very same bands (via Smells Like Records, Super Duophonic, and Palace Records, respectively). Anyone who, from such, denounced any of those debutantes as mere rip-offs would've been eating some of the humblest crow over the past best-part-of-a-decade as all of the above issued amazing albums after amazing albums. So, then, hearing the various Bright Eyes acolytes of recent days, this pen has had to sketch carefully in portraying them, wanting to depict Jason Anderson and/or Son, Ambulance as humans drawing heavily from their friend Conor Oberst, without coloring them as cheap knockoffs. One need not exercise any such care when writing about An Angle, the most shameless, complete and utter Bright Eyes rip-off I've ever heard. This means that, in the most mechanical terms, this is a well-played and well-recorded disc that serves its own artistic purposes — acousticky strums, prolix lyrics, angsty sentiments — well enough. But, yet, at the same time, it's so hideously derivative that it's close to unlistenable. An Angle leader Kris Anaya spends the entirety of this 56-minute compact disc pretending to be someone else; then, to make things worse, he turns around and says "my approach is to be as real as I can" like he means it. Anaya is, gallingly, that worst-case American, one so in thrall to what other people do and say that he can't even recognize his "own" thoughts are not really his own. On the centerpiece of We Can Breathe Under Alcohol — a seven-and-a-half minute drunken acoustic moaner called "Born in a Bottle" — Anaya just regurgitates so many longtime/long-term staples of the Conor canon: that he drinks too much, that he hates the indie music scene, that rock critics are doing his head in. And he sings all of this, of course, in a voice that parrots Oberst's physical voice — his accent, his pitch, his delivery, his intonation — as much as it does his artistic voice.

by Anthony Carew

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