Who (Or What) Is El Obo?

El Obo isn’t a mystical creature wandering the countryside. It’s not even a swaggering fictional Telemundo villain. El Obo, which means absolutely nothing in Spanish, is the alter-ego of Jesse Coppenbarger from Colour Revolt. Taking a step away from Colour Revolt’s driving drum beats and thrashing guitars, Coppenbarger delivers Oxford Basement Collection, an album of his personal material that doesn’t fit with his usual aesthetic.

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While the record definitely sounds experimental, it’s still worth a listen for tracks like “Young Ones” and “Vrgn Evl.” Coppenbarger brings out his softer side amidst a bare bones background, highlighting his supple voice with calculated restraint. It’s as if Coppenbarger has mastered his primary instrument, his voice, and wants to try out all the tones and registers available on one record. Coppenbarger plays around with distortion on the dreamy ”On The Eighth Day” and gives us his unadorned voice on the acoustic “BTK.”

With thoughtful lyrics and sweet melodies, Oxford Basement Collection appeals to the bleeding heart in me. I like that Coppenbarger has outlets for his duality. I also like that he lets Colour Revolt be what it is without inserting his influence as the ‘leader.’

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My favorite track on the album is “The Ordinary Woman.” Its opening swells with undertones of country and then merges into indie pop goodness a la Sufjan Stevens. It’s a brooding song, with lyrics that give pause: ‘A woman is ordinary/Until she has your baby/So tug her along/Waiting for the day you can move on…But you’re such a good man.’ I sincerely hope Coppenbarger didn’t write this song about himself. Let’s hope it’s just a piece of social commentary, ok?

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Here’s a YouTube video I found of El Obo’s “Vrgn Evl.” There’s no action in the video, but the song is nice.

You can see El Obo in Nashville, TN on May 10 at Grimey’s for an in-store at 6 pm. It’s free. You can get Oxford Basement Collection there or through Coppenbarger’s label, Esperanza Plantation. If you’d rather see Colour Revolt, they have a tour beginning in June. Check out their website for more details.