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Phoebe Bridgers

+ {Better Oblivion Community Center}

From the age of 11, dreamy indie-folk singer-songwriter PHOEBE BRIDGERS was destined to become one to watch in her almost meteoric rise to fame. California’s equivalent to LAURA MARLING, at 25, the starlet finally reached chart status with her “Punisher” album.
Born August 17, 1994, Ukiah, California, USA, Phoebe’s career really got going when she left the prestigious Los Angeles County High School for the Arts, to busk on the streets. In 2015, top-notch star RYAN ADAMS chose a Phoebe 7” single song, `Killer’ – B-sides `Georgia’ and `Steamroller’ – to bolster his independent Pax AM imprint; a subsequent covers “2016 Tour CD” heralded four further fresh cuts in Ben Lee’s `Hard Drive’, Sloppy Jane’s `Wilt’, Marshall Vore’s `Wasted’ and ELLIOTT SMITH’s `Whatever (Folk Song In C)’; she would later cover The CURE’s `Friday I’m In Love’, SHERYL CROW’s `If It Makes You Happy’, JOHN PRINE’s `Summer’s End’, and others.
Dead Oceans Records duly came a-calling and after a trail of download singles (`Smoke Signals’, `Motion Sickness’ and `Funeral’), the indie label was ready to unveil her debut set, STRANGER IN THE ALPS (2017) {*8}. Ruminative, melodramatic and as eerie as a “Twin Peaks” segment, the aforementioned singles clocked in as tracks 1-3. There was certainly a fine array of session songwriters, guests and worthy producers (Tony Berg and Ethan Gruska) ready to aid the dulcet-toned Phoebe in her quest for mini-stardom; among them Marshall Vore and Harrison Whitford (for the anguished `Demi Moore’), plus maverick king of introspection MARK KOZELEK whom, with Jimmy LaValle, contributed brittle anchor piece, `You Missed My Heart’. Both `Killer’ and `Georgia’ were also included; her plaintive intimacy again captured on her autumnal acoustic duet with BRIGHT EYES’ Conor Oberst on `Would You Rather’.
After Phoebe’s time spent with JULIEN BAKER and LUCY DACUS in indie all-girl group, boygenius (one eponymous 6-track EP in 2018), her OBERST liaison was resurrected by way of an eponymous set as BETTER OBLIVION COMMUNITY CENTER (2019) {*7}. Together with session work from DAWES rhythm section Griffin Goldsmith and Wylie Gelber (plus bass by Anna Butterss, drums by Carla Azar and guitar from YEAH YEAH YEAHS’ Nick Zinner), the pair’s songcraft and storytelling was in unison on aching beauties such as `Dylan Thomas’, `Chesapeake’, `Exception To The Rule’ and a Taylor Hollingsworth-penned track, `Dominos’. Phoebe would duly add to her celluloid remake of LORD HURON’s `The Night We Met’ (for 2018 Netflix TV series, 13 Reasons Why) with a collaboration with The NATIONAL’s Matt Berninger on an exclusive October 2019-issued single, `Walking On A String’ (spawned from Between Two Ferns: The Movie).
That difficult sophomore set was indeed not so difficult after all when she saw it rocket into the UK Top 10 and US Top 50 (she’d just cut tracks with The 1975, none more so topical than `Jesus Christ 2005 God Bless America’).
Entitled PUNISHER (2020) {*8}, the bittersweet, blonde and bisexual BRIDGERS could raise a smile… well almost. Her mum, Jamie, would certainly be proud of her, as she herself developed into a candor comic. Phoebe, meanwhile, would find it hard to promote the striking set during a coronavirus lockdown, though her harmonious bedsit style would suit acolytes suffering a similar situation, but who’d already struck a chord with the quirky alt-country tune, `Garden Song’ and the SHERYL CROW-meets-BEIRUT-esque `Kyoto’; other best bits included the ghostly `Chinese Satellite’ and `ICU’ (aka previous single `I See You’).
© MC Strong/MCS Jun2020

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