Saturday, 26 July 2008

Conor Oberst – Conor Oberst

This is his solo album with The Mystic Valley Band; demos have been kicking around for quite a while online. I even reviewed some on this here blog. I’m a sucker for a bit of Bright Eyes I mean Conor Oberst, he ticks all my emo boxes. This record is super striped back and mostly sounds like Conor and his guitar, lo-fi back to the roots music all the way. As always his voice is very distinctive and emotional, with sweet hooks and melodies. Nothing that different from a lot of Bright Eyes stuff that has come before it to be honest, but then again he is well loved and doesn’t need to push the envelope much. After listening quite a few times I’m finding it hard to get that excited about this release, I’m more of a fan of his sonic tomfoolery like on Digital Ash in a Digital Urn and even Cassadaga. I’m not really a fan when he takes his sound to the more country end of the spectrum.

The lyrical content is pretty much the same as it has always been, love, emotions, death, loss and all that stuff. He is so good at telling a story with clever word play and it’s a joy to listen to as ever. I’m not the best at getting into more lyrical music but I will try my best for you. Cape Canaveral is one of my favourite tracks here and it seems to deal with cosmic goings on and maybe some kind of farther figure. The line, ‘You told me victory is sweet, even deep in the cheap seats’ sticks with me for some reason. I can’t get into the next tune at all; it’s a country by numbers bore-fest. Get Well Cards has a nice chorus about a postman delivering letters. Lenders In The Temple has a wicked little guitar melody and Conor at his best song writing. The lyric about the rain washing the cars clean for just a moment strikes me as a nice one. Danny Callahan is another more up beat catchy tune in the mould of so many other tunes by Oberst. I Don’t Want To Die (In The Hospital) is a boogie woogie number that sounds a little like some of the newer Arcade Fire stuff. Eagle On A Pole is a fragile acoustic number; these are by far the ones Conor Oberst does best on this record. NYC Gone, Gone is a stomping drunken sing along number, with fizzing electric guitars and it’s over in a second. Moab is another sweet one kind of up beat, he seems to have left a little melancholy behind lately, nice tune mind. ‘The is nothing that the road cannot heal, when I go down to Moab to get my canteen fild, there is nothing that the road cannot heal’ is a wicked line. Valle Mistico (Ruben’s Song) is just some random horn blowing action and a snippet of the blower sayin’ cool. Souled Out!!! Is a good tune with a slow vibe not unlike the opening tune. Milk Thistle is a melancholic and beautiful slice of acoustic fragility that Conor is such a master at, it really tugs at your heart strings.

Conor produced this him self and The Mystic Valley Band are tight and rootsy, yet nothing special, I think I miss Mogis and Walcott a little bit to be honest. Good on Conor for going out and trying out stuff under his own name with some different musicians, he has pulled it off rather well. The straight up no nonsense mostly acoustic and Conor style has to be admired by Bright Eye’s fans. I don’t think it will get him a massive new audience but it will keep a lot of the old ones very happy indeed. Thank you Conor Oberst you warm my heart.

Stream the whole album here.

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