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Upside Down Mountain

Conor Oberst - 2014

Conor’s first album under his own name, 2008’s “Conor Oberst”, was a fantastic album, both because he wrote a bunch of great songs, but also because the band he assembled, comprised of various friends, came together with a special energy. They created such a cohesive unit that they recorded a second album, 2009’s “Conor Oberst and the Mystic Valley Band”. That second album had a number of strong songs, but didn’t have the magic that the first album had. 2009 also saw the release of the Monsters of Folk album with M.Ward and Jim James. With each of the three songwriters brining only a few of their best songs to the table, it highlighted each of their strengths. 2011 brought us the forgettable Bright Eyes album, “The People’s Key”. I would like to forget it, but I can’t get the memory of that weird dude talking about the Lizard people who secretly rule the world without us knowing. So here we are in 2014, and I think Conor needs a jolt to the system. He unfortunately didn’t receive said jolt before writing and recording “Upside Down Mountain”. It’s a very average collection of very average Conor Oberst songs. Maybe now that he’s married and settling into his mid-30’s he’s just getting too comfortable to write great songs. Gone are the days when he was staying up all night, sharing a flask on the train with you the way he did in “Lua” from Bright Eyes 2005 masterpiece, “I’m Wide Awake, It’s Morning”. Gone are the days when he straps on his boots and tries to break out of his hospital deathbed as he did on his self titled 2008 album. He even says himself on one of the better tracks on the album, “Hundreds Of Ways”, “I used to think that time was of the essence/Now I just wish that I could get some sleep”. Doesn’t sound too inspired. The lyrics and songwriting on his new album are very straight ahead, basic Oberst songs. They have his usual phrasing and rhythm, but lack the emotional magic of his other work. Dawes will be backing him on the tour, so hopefully they can help to inject life into these tracks. I wish I had more to say about this album, since I’m a fan of his, but sadly my lack of inspiration for this review mirrors the lack of inspiration Conor seems to have had on most of this album. It’s pleasant, but I’m hoping for more on future releases.

Posted by Tambe



Posted: 05/31/2014

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