Conor Oberst . Mystic Valley Band
I like a few songs by the band “Bright Eyes.” Originally from Omaha and led by Conor Oberst, they’ve been admired by not only their emo boy base but a gamut of other music lovers too. I find some of their songs melodically addictive and I like their minor key rocking beats. I admit I’m keen to the more popular tunes such as “Lover I Don’t Have to Love,” – but I’ve tried listening to others over the years and just couldn’t get into them.
I attended a concert earlier this year and was stunned at how miserable and depressing the entire show was – which consisted of mostly songs I hadn’t heard. Pain, emotional strife, and societal despair were among the themes while watching Oberst stare begrudgingly into space. The only song I really got into that night was “True Blue,” which as mumbled by Oberst was written for his nephew. So maybe I like songs written for kids. So what. Conor Oberst IS an excellent lyricist and songwriter, and he has a great voice – but I have a weird threshold between really enjoying his stuff and finding it whiny and obnoxious. That and I like having fun when I go to concerts. Chemical Brothers, Starkillers, Matt Darey, and various touring DJs at Beta all put me in a good mood. In essence I like being happy when I listen to music. If I want a night of soul searching and abstract mental gymnastics I’ll stay at home and read Isabelle Allende.
On October 16th my other half took me to the Ogden Theater to see Conor Oberst. This time Oberst was performing with his newly formed group “The Mystic Valley Band.” Expecting another cry-fest from “no reason to be angry” suburban teens we found some seats upstairs and settled in. However I was shockingly surprised: The Mystic Valley Band has some great tunes, catchy lyrics, and was a really fun show! I inquired about Mystic Valley further from Conor’s site:
The Mystic Valley Band’s first album was recorded in Tepoztlán, Morales, Mexico. Creating a temporary studio in a mountain villa for a one-month period this winter, Conor and a tight-knit group of fellow musicians, who aptly call themselves The Mystic Valley Band, crafted a lush and beautiful record that evokes the deep sense of harmony in which they lived and worked during that month.
In addition to a (perceived) complete 180 performance by Oberst, another talented and impressive member of the ensemble is Nate Walcott, who plays a variety of keyboards and trumpets. (And from a few rows back looks quite similar to MTV’s Kurt Loder.) I find the songs by Mystic Valley far more listenable than Bright Eyes. Ballads like “Leaders in the Temple,” and toe tapping jams like “Moab” make for a really enjoyable album.
Provided they don’t relapse into songs of despair, heartbreak, and cutting, I am now a fan and would enjoy seeing them again. If you’ve been mocking Bright Eyes for years like I have, you just may find your opinion changed too. Here’s their video “Souled Out” for a taste. More Mystic River Band info and tour dates at conoroberst.com.
And to Mr. Oberst: I’m sorry.