Conor Oberst and The Mystic Valley Band
If it seemed hyperbolic when he was universally decreed the New Dylan before he was of legal drinking age, it's a title that Conor Oberst has grown into since he emerged as Bright Eyes in the mid '90s. Oberst made the Omaha scene as a young'un, performing on stage with gravely indie scrappers Cursive when he was a wee 13. He issued his debut cassette of tunes with his brother a year later, in 1994. The tape was the first official release of Saddle Creek, the vehicle by which Oberst would release records for the majority of his career. A string of projects followed for the multi-instrumental wunderkind (including Commander Venus, Norman Bailer and Desaparecidos) but the transformative, confessional songwriting of Bright Eyes won Oberst wide acclaim. By the ripe old age of 23, he was dating starlets, recording albums at mystical retreat centers and venting about politics on late night television -- all of which signaled not only his popularity but also that of so-called indie culture. When he began to appear under his given name in 2007, he was backed by a loose ensemble of players called the Mystic Valley Band, which sometimes includes M Ward.