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4.4 out of 5 stars16
4.4 out of 5 stars
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on 21 May 2014
Other than the first line I agree entirely with the first paragraph of the previous reviewer. The early Bright Eyes albums are still amongst my favourite records of all time but Conor's work post 2007 was definitely disappointing after those heady heights.

I was anticipating this album more so than Conor's other recent efforts due to the involvement of First Aid Kit (who I have to say have probably taken the "favourite artist" award from Bright Eyes). I'd heard some of their other joint efforts (many of which are on youtube) so was excited to get my hands on this album but also nervous and apprehensive that it wouldn't meet my expectations. How wrong I was! Not only is Conor back to his brilliant best but the addition of Klara & Johanna (First Aid Kit) make it a masterpiece. Their voices fit so perfectly I just wish they'd been a band in their own right.

Personal favourites so far are Time Forgot, Zigzagging Toward the Light, Hundreds of Ways & Double Life. If you're a fan of Conor or First Aid Kit give this album a listen and you won't be disappointed.
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Speaking honesty the development of Conor Oberst has not been the happiest of journeys. His early Bright Eyes material promised so much that the "new Dylan" label was thrown around with abandon. Here was a songwriting talent destined for musical greatness and with promise to spare. Thus an album like "Lifted (Or this is where the story is)" seemed to prefigure impending sainthood. When "I'm Wide Awake its Morning" came alone the stars aligned and Oberst completely nailed it. But since then its been "disappointing" to say the least. This applies to his work since 2007 not least horrible albums like "Outer South" and while many speak warmly of the "The People's Key" it has been played so little on this reviewers "stereo" that it should received loneliness counselling in the CD rack.

Whatever happened to emotional intensity of Oberst's earlier work is a matter for musical detectives but does this new solo album at last show that there is life left in the "old dog"? "Upside Down Mountain" is often a charming and wistful album with an smattering of excellent songs but also some pretty average fare. The song "Hundreds of Ways" was the pre release from the album and is all jolly alt country with Oberst's trademark vocals and themes of death and socio paths. It is fine but nothing to write home about. The same sentiments apply to "Enola Gay" where Oberst tells us that this "world is mean and getting meaner too" - and this is from the man who wrote "Lua"? On other songs like the ponderous "Lonely at the top" Oberst's reflections on love lead to you to reflect that perhaps he should just go out sink a bottle of Jack Daniels and get over himself. With lyrics like "Freedom is the opposite of love/ you will never keep it through the paranoia" its like listening to musing of a precocious teenager who has just discovered Proust.

Thankfully there are enough songs here to keep the faith in Oberst's talents. The brilliant opener "Time forget" is one of his best songs in years with that latent regret of which he is master of placing into its words. Equally "Artefact No 1" has slightly Elliot Smith feel to it and is truly lovely. The standout however is the excellent "Desert Island Questionnaire" packed full of echo and great lyrics. Alongside this is the pop sensibility of "Zigzagging towards the light" you feel that redemption may still be within his grasp. By any standards "Upside Down Mountain" shows that its worth staying the course with Oberst. With the red hot Jonathan Wilson at the control desk, plus the charms of Swedish wonders First Aid Kit on a couple of tracks there is enough to engage and retain interest. The best parts of this album heavily outweigh the weaknesses and whilst not a return to the stellar standards of earlier works the spark is still contained within
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on 21 September 2014
Conor Oberst has been releasing music for over 20 years now. That's right – we’re fifteen years on from the teenage angst of breakthrough track "Falling out of love at this volume" and subsequent album, Fevers And Mirrors. Further to this we're almost ten years on from what people consider his magnum opus, the Bright Eyes album I'm Wide Awake It's Morning. Under his various monikers, Oberst has now released over twenty albums. "But why is now the time for reflection?" I hear you asking. Because on Upside Down Mountain we find Conor in a very reflective mood.

Despite only turning 34 in February of this year, Oberst sings of tales on Upside Down Mountain that make him sound like an elder statesman of indie rock. "Zigzagging toward the Light" finds the musician reflecting on how naive his attitude to death was and contemplating his mortality. This may be a morbid subject matter, but it’s musically a song that early 1970s David Bowie would have been proud of. It's so catchy you can't help but tap your toes.

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on 3 June 2014
Huge fan of Bright Eyes/Conor in general.
Loved Outer South, but this is leagues above - instantly loved every track.
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on 25 September 2014
I got onto Conor Oberst after a recent review of a London concert. For me, I have to be in the right mood for this album. I love the 'high life' guitar work and First Aid Kit's backing but sometimes his almost spoken 'Dylanesque' vocals can just get irritating.There is a fragility to his voice so that you think he might just crack completely and stop singing, but this also gives the singing great poignancy. I think the trick is you have to be listening quite hard to this album and then the intensity of the lyrics shines through. So sometimes I would be awarding this 5 stars and sometimes 4 but certainly I have no other record quite like this!
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on 3 November 2015
I cannot recommend this highly enough. I have been listening to music from all genres for over 33 years. The song writing and beauty of this has blown me again. Literally. Its blown my favourite band Blur right out of the water. If you only buy one album this year, this must be it!.
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on 15 October 2014
Took a little while to arrive, but in perfect condition when it did.
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on 2 October 2014
Conor is back to his best. Amazing album.
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on 16 March 2016
His best album yet, by some distance
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on 27 October 2015
Great album
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