Review Summary: It's 3 PM, but I'm still wide awake.
Confession: I never really could get into Bright Eyes. Sorry. I really wanted to. I have attempted several times, but I never have seemed to be able to get into their albums. I am not by any means saying that Bright Eyes is bad
. “At The Bottom of Everything” and “First Day of My Life” are great songs, do doubt about it. But, all in all, I feel that their music in general is just too choppy for me to enjoy (which, come to think about it, is probably the point). Maybe I’ll try again. I really want to like them, but, having listened to little of their music, I can’t make a fair judgment. I might have passed this Oberst solo effort by, but I heard it was pretty good. The longing for liking Bright Eyes came back into my heart, and so I would decide that I would give Upside Down Mountain
a try. When I finally found time to sit back and listen to this one, I was not disappointed.
I don’t know too much about Bright Eyes or any other band that Conor is in, but it seems like the lineup is always Conor Oberst and his Ever Changing Line-Up of Fellow Musicians. Knowing that Bright Eyes covers a wide range of genres, I wasn’t sure what to expect from Upside Down Mountain
. The first track is “Time Forgot.” So it is
that good ol’ folk rockin’. However, it seems that Oberst by himself had a different goal this time around. It seems that Oberst seeks a richer fuller sound, with not only acoustic guitar, but slide, power chords, synths, trumpets, ambient piano and backing choirs, contrasting with Bright Eyes’ acoustic attack. Overall, the beginning of the album is pretty good. “Time Forgot” is a decent opener, and “Zigzagging Towards the Light” is one of the better songs on the record.
So, throughout Upside Down Mountain
Conor is rolling along doing his thing, singing about all of his relational troubles, and I am actually starting to enjoy myself. It felt good. However, I was not prepared for what was soon to come. Near the latter part of the record there is a song entitled, “You Are Your Mother’s Child.” This song’s sheer simplicity and power was nearly overwhelming. The most interesting thing is that the topic of the song is one of the most cliché topics you could have in an acoustic folk song. Yet, somehow, Oberst seems to make even clichés sound good with this track. “You Are Your Mother’s Child” quietly and calmly screams in your face to shut up and listen. I stopped what I was doing at the time, and had all my attention focused on that track.
The momentum from “You Are Your Mothers Child” carries through to the end of the album. The last five tracks contain some of the better end of folk tunes, especially “Desert Island Questionnaire.” Upside Down Mountain
might have been a 3.5, but that last section bumps it to a 4. Good job, Conor! Maybe I’ll finally go and listen to I’m Wide Awake
all the way through, but for now, I’m content with “Zigzagging Towards the Light.”