From the opening drums and roar of guitar, Outer South reveals more departures for Conor Oberst. After retreating to Mexico with the Mystic Valley Band for his first self-titled record, he shares songwriting duties and passes around the mic here. It proves the Mystic Valley Band (compared to Bright Eyes) is a "real" band, but not necessarily a better one. Even though the mixed bag of gutsy bravado and salty swagger occasionally devolves into lite-rock schmaltz, there's potential in a few Petty-inspired tunes by guitarist Nik Freitas ("Big Black Nothing"). Still, the best are all Oberst.