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Though the Nebraska-born troubadour is only 34, Conor Oberst has accomplished more in the last two decades than most musicians do in a lifetime. He started his career at the tender age of 14 by playing open-mic nights at local Omaha coffee shops before hooking up with compatible indie types—like Cursive’s Tim Kasher, The Faint’s Todd Fink and Tilly And The Wall’s Neely Jenkins—to form a sort of musical gang who’d play, write and tour together. Over time, the bulk of these artists would go on to build the initial roster of Saddle Creek Records, which was co-founded by producer Mike Mogis and Justin Oberst, Conor’s older brother. The younger Oberst started to release material under the moniker Bright Eyes and would go on to put out nine albums over 13 years. (The band’s most recent is The People’s Key, which came out in February 2011.)
For Conor’s solo material, he would take his Americana-drenched music to other labels, like Merge, who released 2008’s Outer South, and Nonesuch, who released the singer/songwriter’s newest offering, Upside Down Mountain, which came out this past May. “While claiming ‘this is a return to an earlier way I wrote,’ Upside Down Mountain is Oberst’s latest documentation of his obsessions with escape, death, the passing of time, and the potential of finding serenity in an assumed identity,” Pitchfork.com said in a review of the album. “Earlier in his career, his tremble, quaver and vibrato were seen as affectations of an amateur, but here they're all confidently and carefully utilized like a mastered instrument.”
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