Sep 1, 2007

The Stage Names-Okkervil River

If you search for music that is true, honest and original then Okkervil River is the band for you. Will Sheff's band of men have been consistently building a career based on emotion, intelligence and passion. It culminated with 2005's near masterpiece "Black Sheep Boy". Now they return with "The Stage Names", a more concise and refined album that is none the less totally satisfying and rewarding. It would seem that Will Sheff, in basically creating a themed album has left behind some of the vein popping emotional epics that characterised previous albums but instead has perhaps delivered a more joyous and uplifting album that starts strong and finishes strong as well.

The rollicking rhythms of "Our Life Is Not A Movie Or Maybe" is a great introduction. Heavy on drums and rising to a terrific crescendo it also displays another great feature of the album. Will Sheff has never sung better. Still able to reach down for those forceful moments of shrieking humanity, he now shows that his voice can handle any tune quite beautifully also. My favourite song comes up next. "Unless It's Kicks" is pure joy, thumping drums and a beat to die for, it is probably the band's most radio friendly song yet I believe. "A Hand To Take Hold Of The Scene", the following number is the only song that has failed to register with me. Whilst quite catchy and pleasant it doesn't compare very well with the rest of the album. So many other great songs follow though. The simple yet touching "Savannah Smiles", the clever and delightful "Plus Ones" and the heartfelt "Title Track" all make for great listening. Then the gorgeous "John Allyn Smith Sails" closes with its very clever turn of morphing in The Beach Boys' "Sloop John B". This album represents another testament to the sheer talent of Will Sheff. He hasn't made "Black Sheep Boy 2", he has tried to create music that gives you more to ruminate on. At once fun and uplifting it is also tender and gentle. If this is not the best album of 2007 it is certainly in the discussion.

MP3: Our Life Is Not A Movie Or Maybe


  • At September 07, 2007 , Blogger geoff said...

    I'd be lying if I wasn't slightly disappointed on first listen, but I guess I have a higher expectation of this band than most going around. Though, I have come to absolutely love it in the past month or so..

    There have been so many good albums this year, it's hard to place it in where it may fit overall, but I do think "Savannah Smiles" is one of the most beautiful songs ever written and performed.

  • At September 14, 2007 , Anonymous Zack said...

    The only thing that disappoints me about Okkervil River is that I missed their show at the Troubadour (it was sold out well in advance). John Allyn Smith Sails practically brings tears to my eyes. Quality music.


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