Upside Down Mountain

Upside Down Mountain

Years ago, Conor Oberst was called the new Dylan. Yet Oberst's discography—from his solo albums to his Bright Eyes material to his many side projects—is already starting to eclipse the Bard's in sheer volume, and Oberst is only 34. This makes it hard to assert that Upside Down Mountain is the sound of a former prodigy maturing, but it is. While these songs are stuffed full of guest musicians, the tracks are some of Oberst's simplest; they're full of concise, cutting lines. "I know no one will believe me/But I don't want a second chance/To be an object of desire," he sings on "Artifact #1," a smoldering ballad with a Tex-Mex flair. The biggest touchstone here is '70s rock, as Oberst nods to The Eagles' winsome chug and Neil Young's haunted fuzz. The hooks are welcome, especially as they disguise Oberst's increasingly jaundiced (though no less affecting) observations.

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