Friday, May 15, 2009

Outer South - Conor Oberst & The Mystic Valley Band

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Ok, so Conor Oberst most definitely isn't the "new Bob Dylan", as if anybody ever could be these days, but he does have a good, and very varied, back catalogue. Which makes the appearance of this album, just months after his self-titled album with the Mystic Valley Band, something of a surprise, albeit a nice one.

As ever there are a range of sounds that he goes for, be it the epic country of Snake Hill or the stripped down starkness of White Shows. Most fans will have grown used to the chameleon like charms of Oberst by now, even if a lot of this is played on his his default alt-country setting.

He may regret giving the "band" their heads (nearly half the tracks are sung by his band mates) as tracks such as Air Mattress (which could indeed be compared to Bob Dylan, if you were saying it was a particularly bad attempt at a Dylan pastiche) prove and like a lot of musicians with too much control over their own output at 16 tracks this checks in at far too long a running time and would have surely benefited from some prudent editing to remove some of the dead weight. Still this spreading out of the duties does at least provide one great song in the form of Big Black Nothing.

So whilst it's nowhere near his best, and indeed very rarely threatens to ever challenge his best stuff, most fans will lap it up, even if they do find themselves permanently removing some of the tracks from their running list.

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