Conor Oberst - The simple life

Conor Oberst

From teen folk troubadour to big band instigator, Bright Eyes' Conor Oberst has always been a musical force of nature. Camilla Pia finds the joy in his latest adventure: the Mystic Valley Band

You may not consider there to be much difference between a solo Conor Oberst endeavour and a Bright Eyes record – Oberst is widely regarded as the driving force behind the Omaha band's remarkable body of work. But, since long-term collaborator Mike Mogis has decided to take time out from making music, the prolific singer-songwriter is going it alone, embarking on his first self-titled effort in 13 years.

Adding to his creations with Commander Venus, Park Ave, Desaparecidos and, most successfully, Bright Eyes, Conor Oberst & the Mystic Valley Band is the indie legend's 18th album release, an impressive achievement for any musician, let alone one so young (he turned 28 in February). After the glorious fanfare of last year's Cassadaga, Oberst has stripped his sound to the bare essentials, which is generally where this super talented chap triumphs. 2000's Fevers and Mirrors and 2002's Lifted or The Story is in the Soil, Keep Your Ear to the Ground were dark, scratchy, country affairs, while the folky I'm Wide Awake, It's Morning, featuring breakthrough track 'First Day of My Life', was deemed easier on the ear than its electronic companion, Digital Ash in a Digital Urn.

The numinous theme of Cassadaga remains, however. Conor Oberst & the Mystic Valley Band was recorded earlier this year in a mountain villa in Tepoztlán, a small town in southern Mexico known for its Aztec magic and UFO sightings. Oberst produced the album with engineer and trusted associate Andy LeMaster, and also enlisted the help of a special troupe of musicians, including Rilo Kiley's Jason Boesel. The finished product is yet another glorious addition to the ever-growing Oberst canon. Tracks such as 'Cape Canaveral', 'Danny Callahan' and 'I Don't Want to Die (in the Hospital)' display some of his most inspired lyrics and beautiful melodies, once again begging the question: can this boy do no wrong?

Conor Oberst plays the Oyster Stage, Sat.


Returning for a second year after its successful debut the boutique festival has corralled headliners Kasabian, Manic Street Preachers, Bloc Party, Paolo Nutini, Grinderman, Franz Ferdinand, Sigur Ros and Goldfrapp. There will be five stages: 'The Oyster stage', 'Guitars and other Machines', 'Manicured Noise', 'Unknown…

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