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Outer South by Conor Oberst
Released: May 2009
Label: Merge Records
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.
Nate Cavalieri
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