Thursday, January 27, 2022

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Sound Check


Project3Conor Oberst

“Upside Down Mountain”


Though just 34, Conor Oberst has been playing this game for 20 years now. All those miles reflect in the construction of “Upside Down Mountain,” Oberst’s sixth solo effort. Oberst’s solo work has always eschewed most of the over-wrought melodramatics that punctuated his Bright Eyes work, but “Upside Down Mountain” takes that theme a step further. Everything about the album has a stripped down, bare-bones feel to it. The instrumentation is simple and clean throughout, and the lyrics don’t struggle to unveil any particularly deep meanings to the listeners. That doesn’t, however, prevent Oberst from telling compelling stories or painting vivid portraits with his songs. If Oberst has one great strength, it’s the ability to do more with less. CV



cd The RootsThe Roots

“…And Then You Shoot Your Cousin”

Def Jam

When The Roots released “undun” in December of 2011, I heralded it as the best album I’d heard all year. Fast-forward two and a half years, and The Roots have returned to dip another toe into the concept album waters. “…And Then You Shoot Your Cousin,” however, is more ambitious than its much-lauded predecessor, featuring multiple story lines and several characters attempting to engage the listener. The result is an album that’s every bit as lush and easy to listen to as one would expect from a Roots album but that doesn’t quite reach the stratospheric heights of creativity featured in “undun.” Tracks like “When the People Cheer” are beautiful, funk-infused journeys through the lives of the their characters, but the album is also more grim than its predecessor, and even ostensibly uplifting tracks like “Tomorrow” come of sounding more like resolute affirmations than anything else. CV

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