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Oberhofers Notalgia: The Strength and Frailty of Us Celebrity in the United States involves spectacle and worship.

Take, for example, Americans love for musicians and their music. As seen in endless debates about peer-to-peer sharing and music streaming services like Spotify, music listeners desire for new, accessible, and cheap (or free) music has not waned. However, there is an equal obsession with the private lives of musicians, which are just as accessible as their music thanks to social media and paparazzi. Fans have a front seat to the shenanigans of their favorite music artists at every minute of the day. These musicians are exactly like the rest of us, but their fame and wealth may cloud our noticing this fact. We become detached from their problems, offering little sympathy or empathy. They are sometimes the source of our ire, disappointment, shame, or, if we think every incident is a publicity stunt, suspicion. Even our arrogance might flare up as we believe that we the average have better lives than they the extraordinary. Listeners should add Oberhofers Notalgia EP to their collection for a lesson in reality. The band takes the name of Brad Oberhofer, the creator and lead singer of the group. Unlike the Grammy legends and the MTV Video Music Award gods that pepper our news feeds, Oberhorfer represents the majority of full time musicians. He is not famous; he is not wealthy. He lives in a Brooklyn apartment where he sometimes records tracks and e-mails them to fans. So when he releases music about the suicide of his roommate, listeners can at least sympathize with him, if not relate to his situation. His music is a reminder of the frailty of people. Yes, even the frailty of the rich and famous. Brad Oberhofer explains the context for each track in Track by Track for the online magazine DIYs but even without these brief paragraphs of emotional reflection, listeners will immediately pick up the EPs mournful theme. Few fans would associate sadness with

Oberhofer. Even if you arent a fan, youll immediately pick up on what kind of person and musician Oberhofer is. His debut album Time Capsules II has upbeat tunes and orchestral magic. Onstage he zones outwhat the crowds do as he performs doesnt come across his mind; he remembers nothing about them. Interviews with Oberhofer are one part philosophical, one part whimsical, and one part sweet. He seems unblemished by heartache. However, You + Me (Still Together in the Future) tells a different story. Listeners will learn immediately that Oberhofer, like every other human being, has met fear and sorrow after the death of a loved one. He channels that emotion, as many of us would do, into an imagined moment where he and that person reunite in the future: This all is coming to an end, it's coming to an end / Are you my friend? Are you my friend? Are you my friend? / 'Cause I'm in love with the idea / of you and me still together in the future sings Oberhofer in his usual croon, but theres no need to shift voice or tone. The music and lyric convey the mood well, and its a universal point, inescapable, inherent to all of us Earplugs, another golden moment on the EP, could just as easily connect with You + Me. While the first song expresses a desire for connection, Earplugs distinctly addresses mental and emotional separation between friends, despite their strong physical interaction. In other words, there is a difference between slapping someone on the back and speaking to someone. Physical punishment or physical affection does not solve an issue rooted in the mind the body can experience torture and warmth but the mind makes the decisions. What better way to address someone psychologically than through logic? For a drug-addled mind, that doesnt help either. Oberhofer appears to know this problem quite well when he sings, I've whispered words before / I'm here to hold your hand before you hit the floor / You quiver before each smile / You're shivering but that's because you're not listening to anyone. If only the friend would

listen. If only our friends would listen for a moment, their bodies would soften. The smiles would come without hesitation, unforced, genuine. In the same way, Oberhofer must make a great deal of effort to set this person, whoever he is, back on his feet, but something else, not literal earplugs, clearly fills the ear canal so the friends hairs wont vibrate. Many can connect with Oberhofer on this point. Everyone has that friend, that family member, that significant other, that refuses to listen and sometimes that refusal led to their demise. I have highlighted two songs, but listeners can expect much of the same from the other songs: emotional instrumentals and lyrics that they can relate to. Those are the songs that stick around for some time, whether from mainstream music or from underground music. They never go away. Oberhofer still has bad habit of trying to subvert song titles. Anyone familiar with his previous work knows the song o0Oo0Oo (try pronouncing that). Oberhofer boldly names the third song in this EP - (try pronouncing that, too). Maybe the punctuation is appropriate as that song lasts roughly thirty seconds. But the length of the song makes it forgettable, and it adds nothing to the theme of the EP. In the Track by Track article, Oberhofer offers some context for this song: Often times music does not need words because exists [sic] in place of them. Most music can't and shouldn't be translated into words. All music can be vaguely described. A verbal description of Egyptian Pyramids will not provide you with the impact of their physical grandeur. This description justifies the title. Most would agree that some music cant be put into words. His explanation, in fact, is reminiscent of the frequent saying in music journalism writing about music is like dancing about architecture. But, and its a big but, that does not explain the composition for -, and listeners could spend those thirty seconds listening to something more meaningful: birds chirping, the scream of football fans, silence.

The third song is the only lapse in Oberhofers EP. The lyrics on previous albums have been a source of contention for some music reviewers; listeners and reviewers can revel in the much-improved words on this album, if readers have not already noticed this improvement in the quoted lyrics above. The lyrics mean something; they do not seem randomly chosen without a single thought for why they match the songs meaning. I love in particular this stanza from Earplugs: You're a well painted water color portrait on a page / They didn't like the smile I used to should know/ 'Cause it's been coupled up and thrown away / I gave you eyes to keep you warm / But like that picture I'mma patch you up where you've been torn. Brilliant. The sounds of the syllables work perfectly with this song. The wordplay is strangely appropriate for the topic. And even the least musically inclined person in the country can sing along with Oberhofer and not feel embarrassed. Listeners will find a lot to like in Notalgia. This EP, unlike his debut album, is Oberhofer at his best. He (and his band) are small enough in the world of music that anyone can shake his hand and understand where he has come from and where he will go next. You can say, Good luck! Take care! and mean every syllable. The saying would not be a waste of air, either. It would be much deserved. It is in those instances where we truly wish the best for the musician that we actually learn something about them and about ourselves. And maybe we can extend that same sympathy to the mega musicians we love to follow so much.