Conor Oberst and the Mystic Valley Band and Elvis Costello and Eric Clapton

oberstWhen one goes from a band or group onto their own solo project, or side project, it seems it goes one of two ways. Over-hyped or under appreciated. Eric Clapton did just fine without the rest of Cream-well they all kinda did, but Art Garfunkel did not reach the same level of success as his partner Paul Simon did after they split. Saying that Elvis Costello would have not been Elvis Costello without the “Attractions” is like saying that Conor Oberst isn’t himself a star without the “Mystic Valley Band.” In Mr. Oberst’s new release Outer South, slated for May 5th, he proves that either way he still has some weird sorta familiarness to his sound that may just pan out or has it already?

Paraphrased wiki:

In late 2007 the then leader of indie-fave Bright Eyes, Conor Oberst, had some rumors swirling that he would be working with fellow Saddle Creek alum Jake Bellows, of Neva Dinova, on a little side project and that he would team up with M.Ward to form some sort of alt-indie super group and perform two shows in Minnesota later in December. Well, that didn’t happen. Well not exactly. He did perform, only it was with Nik Freitas and Jason Boesel. They played 13 original songs that they stressed would not appear on a Bright Eyes record.

The following  year Oberst and his newly formed band (adding Nate Walcott, Macy Taylor and Taylor Hollingsworth) traveled to Tepoztlán, Morelos, Mexicoand spent two sun-filled months living and recording, Conor Oberst,  their debut album. Before leaving the country, the band also played a show in Mexico City.

The touring didn’t stop in North America however, as they played at the 2008 Reading and Leeds Festivals, the Connect Festival in Scotland and the Electric Picnic in Ireland in August 2008, the Austin City Limits festival in September and also at the Great Escape Festival in Sydney, Australiain early October 2008. Their debut album was released in the UK on Wichita on August 5th and August 6th 2008 on Merge Records in the U.S, billed as a solo album by Oberst. In October 2008 the band released the Gentlemen’s Pact EP (once again, billed as a solo effort from Oberst), which was available in limited quantities and sold only at shows. They later appeared on the Late Night Show with Conan O’Brien and performed an unreleased song titled “Nikorette”.

Upon completing their touring schedule in late November 2008, the Mystic Valley Band spent time at Sonic Ranch Studios in Tornillo, Texas. There they recorded more than a dozen new songs, many of which had become staples of their live set earlier in the year. A number of the songs that are slated to appear on the album were written and sung by band members other than Conor Oberst.The whole process was documented on the newly released project One of My Kind

conor_oberst_mvbAt first listen it feels like something you have heard before-but not quite. If he was sitting next to you at a bus stop or on a street corner you probably wouldn’t listen to it, but coming out of speakers with a focused ear one gets taken with it’s simplistic reverence for the whole new alt-country genre. Oberst, along with the Mystic Valley Band, take the slow-paced twangy country feel and mix in some slight electronica reverb, slow-burn effects and play songs. Maybe that’s just it. They play songs. Sure, there are meanings to the words and phrases and the moods of the sounds they produce, but the overall feeling is that of a band playing tunes out on a porch somewhere in the high desert. The band, while there, isn’t as necessary as Conor himself. Although Oberst does not sing on a couple tracks the “Mystic Valley Band” does not seem essential, especaily in this digital age. We here at impossible city would love to see how this plays out live, but alas we will not be seeing them live anytime soon. Wilco however, will be coming this way soon.

Like an early Elvis Costello his voice is a little peculiar and doesn’t quite harmonize with the musical accompaniment, but it is just that that makes it even more listenable.

Recommended…under,over or otherwise-hyped

Wait for the album on the 5th…or get it here.

check out the dvd here

Conor Oberst and the Mystic Valley band will open a week of shows for everyone’s favorite Wilco this July. Dates and ticket information are available below!

Date City Venue Country
07.08.09 Conor Oberst and the Mystic Valley Band in Vienna, VA Wolf Trap US
  Tour: Supporting Wilco. Buy Tickets.
07.10.09 Conor Oberst and the Mystic Valley Band in Wilmington, DE Frawley Stadium US
  Tour: Supporting Wilco. Buy Tickets.
07.11.09 Conor Oberst and the Mystic Valley Band in Lowell, MA Lelacheur Park US
  Tour: Supporting Wilco. Buy Tickets.
07.17.09 Conor Oberst and the Mystic Valley Band in Portland, ME Maine State Pier US
  Tour: Supporting Wilco. Buy Tickets.
07.18.09 Conor Oberst and the Mystic Valley Band in Wappingers, NY Dutchess Stadium US
  Tour: Supporting Wilco. Buy Tickets.
07.19.09 Conor Oberst and the Mystic Valley Band in Lewiston, NY Art Park US
  Tour: Supporting Wilco. Buy Tickets.
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