Favorite

Conor Oberst and the Mystic Valley Band: Outer South (Merge) 

Conor Oberst is chasing a new muse—loose and vibey jam-session rock 'n' roll—and while he and his Mystic Valley Band find some success along the way, Outer South mostly plays against his strengths.

Released a short nine months after his last album, Outer South is unfocused and bloated; while a more concise effort would be able to hide a weak spot or two, the wastelands that spread across this 70-minute album are too much to ignore.

Oberst passes the microphone to his Mystic Valley cohorts on seven of Outer South's 16 songs, but he so powerfully outshines his bandmates that the other contributions only drag the album down. A better route would've been to strip out those seven songs for release as a bonus EP. While not entirely throwaways, the tracks are disruptive, bland and forgettable.

The album starts strongly, with "Slowly (Oh So Slowly)," a bright and organ-heavy rocker, and "To All the Lights in the Windows," a Springsteen-influenced tune that's a fresh direction for Oberst. But it's clear that Oberst is best in his country-folk troubadour mode, and his songwriting becomes weaker the further he gets from the slow and stripped-down realm.

The contrast is clear: "Roosevelt Room," which declares itself a "tear gas riot song," is dreadful, overloaded with cultural and political references; it's an absolute failure as a fist-pumper. However, on "Ten Women" and "White Shoes," the songs most like his work with Bright Eyes, Oberst retains the impact and drama of his best songwriting.

More by Eric Swedlund

  • Courtney Comes Home: The Shondes

    The Shondes return to Tucson with new line-up and Old Pueblo favorite Courtney Robbins
    • Aug 25, 2016
  • Hue Are You?

    Baroness’ latest album was born of an accident that nearly killed the band
    • Aug 25, 2016
  • Furious Island: AJJ

    New name, same subversive sound from Andrew Jackson Jihad now AJJ
    • Aug 18, 2016
  • More »

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

The Range

Taste the Sonoran Desert in Your Beer at Terroir on Tap

Grijalva: 'This Is About What's Ahead Of Us'

Go See Flandrau's New Dome Digital Projection System

More »

Latest in Rhythm & Views

  • Rhythm & Views

    American Monoxide “In Flight Mode” (People In A Position To Know)
    • Dec 18, 2014
  • Rhythm & Views

    Wight Lhite “Beyond the Satellites” (Paisley Shirt Records)
    • Dec 11, 2014
  • More »

Most Commented On

Facebook Activity

© 2016 Tucson Weekly | 7225 Mona Lisa Rd. Ste. 125, Tucson AZ 85741 | (520) 797-4384 | Powered by Foundation