Earth, the debut album from EOB – Radiohead guitarist Ed O’Brien’s new solo project – kicks off with the soulful, funky, melodic and trippy “Shangri-La,” defining expectations for the rest of a record that at once reflects both the influences that define O’Brien’s full-time job while expressing his own unique musical perspective. As this dynamic set of music unfolds, it is almost astounding how O’Brien seamlessly melds so many emotions and styles with well-crafted Pop and Rock lyrics and melodies, while effortlessly maintaining an ambient vibe throughout.
The genesis of Earth happened as O’Brien, who really hadn’t planned on creating a solo album, was setting up a home studio after moving his family to Brazil in 2012. It was the impact of two events – a listen of Primal Scream’s Screamadelica and a family trip to Rio Carnival – that resulted in a bolt of creative lightning. It was, “…an extraordinary explosion of rhythm, melody, dance, light and joy,” O’Brien explains. “I felt there was a thread right through Screamadelica, rave and carnival.”
Returning to Wales with his family in the summer of 2013, O’Brien settled in to compose the music, write the lyrics and enlisted producer Flood to start work on what would become Earth. With O’Brien handling vocals, guitar, keys, percussion and programming, a stellar group of musicians was assembled, including Radiohead bandmate Colin Greenwood, Portishead guitarist Adrian Utley, Wilco drummer Glenn Kotche, Laura Marling, Catherine Marks and a host of others, and recording began. The result is an album that achieves O’Brien’s goals of making “a record from the heart. I wanted to make a big-hearted, warm and colorful album… something hopeful and full of love.” And he delivered.
After a festival in London in March, EOB sets out on a full tour beginning in Minneapolis in May that continues through U.S. markets through mid-June, with festival dates around the world in July. With stellar reviews of the short four-show pre-tour run, expect to see these shows sell out. Couple that with outstanding radio support for “Shangri-La” (the list is too long and impressive to fit here), and EOB’s future bodes to be fulfilling for both O’Brien and his fans.
Photo by Eliot Lee Hazel