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Better Oblivion Community Center

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Uniting the barbed, melancholy songwriting talents of Conor Oberst and Phoebe Bridgers under the name Better Oblivion Community Center, the duo's first collaborative album arrived unexpectedly in 2019 and was quickly praised for sounding like two kindred spirits exchanging sharp lyrical jibes and twisted, West Coast storytelling. Oberst was already an established as indie artist having made his name in the 1990s with Bright Eyes, later meandering his way through countless collaborations, supergroups, solo projects and DIY record labels, while the California-born Bridgers had announced herself as an evocative, alternative rock raconteur on acclaimed debut album 'Stranger in the Alps' in 2017.

The pair originally met when Oberst was booked to play a show at The Bootleg club in Los Angeles, and a 20-year-old Bridgers was added to the line-up at the last minute. Bridgers later supported Oberst on to tour and they could regularly be seen performing Gillian Welch's song 'Everything Is Free' together, before Oberst excitedly declared that they should form a band. Coming up with a name that was suitably long, bleak and emo-sounding, they deliberately avoided becoming a cute, twee, acoustic duo by bringing in friends such as Autolux drummer Carla Azar and Griffin Goldsmith and Wylie Gelber from Dawes to add an indie rock, garage band feel, and Yeah Yeah Yeahs guitarist Nick Zinner played on jangly, dystopian lead single 'Dylan Thomas'. Casting Oberst's croaky, weary delivery against Bridgers' wistful, angelic laments, they also captured the burnt-out, doomed spirit felt during the demise of the Laurel Canyon songwriter scene in Los Angeles in the 1970s, while other tracks such as 'Chesapeake' and 'Service Road' revelled in oddball characters that leap from wonky, Americana road movies. Keeping the whole project a secret, they went on to launch their self-titled album with a live performance on 'The Late Show With Stephen Colbert' and headed out on an extensive tour of the US and Europe in 2019.