Conor Oberst's Upside Down Mountain

I know, I know. Who are we to recommend Conor Oberst in the summertime? That’s like someone saying you should lock yourself in your apartment and read Sylvia Plath all July. Unless that’s what you like to do, in which case, NO H8. Regardless, Oberst’s latest album, Upside Down Mountain, is nothing like his past efforts with Bright Eyes--he's actually kind of uplifting. Oberst has always been wise, but on the Paul Simon-esque "Hundreds of Ways," he’s folktastically upbeat, assuring loyal listeners that “there are hundreds of ways to get through the day, so you best find one.” In fact, the opening two lines read like a prayer of gratitude: “What a thing to be a witness to the sunshine, what a thing to just be walking on the ground.”

Another track that's been on constant repeat is "Zigzagging Toward the Light," where our sad man channels more Ryan Adams than Bright eyes. These tracks are perfect for working around the house or even hosting a backyard barbecue. Seriously. You can play Conor Oberst at your BBQ. No one will be mad.

Of course, let’s not forget Conor is still Conor, and there are a few heartstrings that need to be tugged. "You Are Your Mother’s Child" does that just fine, giving way to a few shaky-voiced moments Bright Eyes fans will be expecting, the kind sensitive ears have come to love.