I have a friend who has played Saddle creek's Omaha club a couple of times and meet Conor. His opinion, he, indeed, Saddle Creek are nice but very cliquish. "It's like being back in High School and if you're not in, you're not getting in", he claimed.
Watching the Conor forms the Mystic Valley Band movie a couple of years, that was exactly my impression. And in my dealings with Saddlecreek, I found them supremely immature and insulated.
None of that amounts to a hill of beans, except on the title track to the album tied to the movie, released Tuesday, Conor is back in Omaha after years all over the map, and the not only is it excellent, but it is an explanation for how he cuts himself off from things. Friends, ex-lovers, pressures in Omaha, overwhelm Conor as he sings his way through it. The movie closes with Conors scribbled lyric and him sitting and singing it, "I can't live here but I'll I'll probably die here…" he moans. It is terrific. Better than anything on the last Bright Eyes.The version on the album is strong but not as strong, but still, pretty terrific folk-rock with that stampeding keyboards such a signature of the Mystic Valley Band.
I went to Toad's Place to catch the Mystic Valley band a couple of years ago, Conor's voice was shot and the band carried him all the way through.
The point is, Conor might well want nothing to do with you, much more than thanking you if you pour his drink, BUT that is because fame has forced him to insulate himself and his world: he isn't the 15 year old everyboy mess, or even the 20 year old fuck, he is a rock and roll star and, really, you are wasting his time. But that's how he has to live.
Anyway, this is the third Conor album with the Mystic valley's and this is how it measures up:
Conor Oberst – Grade: A+
One Of Our Kind – Grade: A-
Outer South – B+
So wadja get for your money. Put the movie to the side, if you haven't seen it already what are you buying a Conor odds and sods for? It is all about the music…
Two covers, neither all that great
Three songs with the lead vocals by other members of the band, not that great.
A reprise of "White Shoes" -not that great.
"Synesthete Song" -a misstep?
And three flat out "A+" masterpieces: "One Of My Kind", "Gentlemen's Pact" and, especially "Breezy" are astounding. "One Of My Kind" and "Breezy" are re-recorded and neither is weakened and while "Breezy" -his gorgeous eulogy for Harpist Sabina Dium, doesn't have the shocked pain in the singing the original did, the music is better.
It is so good it puts a fill in the blanks album, the Gentlemen's Pact EP plus the Bs into Chapter Three of the Mystic Valley Band story.