New Music - Okkervil River

We are only slightly over a week away from the release of Okkervil River’s 4th full length studio album. The Stage Names comes courtesy of Jagjaguwar Records on August 7th. Those eager enough to preorder will be privy to an immediate digital download, as well as a bonus disc comprised of acoustic demos from bandleader Will Sheff.

The early consensus among fans and bloggers is that The Stage Names is a worthy addition to the Okkervil River catalog, even if it not receiving the same heaping praise afforded 2005’s rather remarkable Black Sheep Boy. The Stage Names does however continue Okkervil River’s tendency to adorn its songs with layers of horns and strings, but now they are tamed with a more polished indie rock sound. Sheff‘s vocals still crack with rawness, but here there is a world of new restraint that keeps those wildly emotive (and usually very welcome) moments from earlier songs to a minimum. As opposed to the circular thematics possessed by its predecessor, The Stage Names works as a collection of songs barely related to one another - perhaps only in the theatrical flair the title refers to that runs through the 9 songs.

“Our Life Is Not A Movie Or Maybe” is a dramatic and effective album opener/first single, and is followed by the crackling “Unless It Kicks” - a tense, bristling rocker and album highlight. “Savannah Smiles” is an lovely paternal ballad, “Plus Ones” a catchy, almost-too-clever play on songs with numbers in their titles, and “A Girl In Port” an expansive acoustic guitar/piano ballad of a little girl lost in a big world in the vein of their earlier albums. The other material is rather hit or miss, with “Title Track” and “You Can’t Hold The Hand Of A Rock n’ Roll Man” being particularly stagnant. “A Hand To Take Hold Of The Scene” is a bright spot, bounding along like a long lost Motown classic, but trips over its dizzying internal rhymes. It’s hard to say better of these remaining songs than that the most memorable moment, on “John Allyn Smith Sails”, they break mid-song into a raucous cover of “Sloop John B”. And that’s how the album ends - one that does occasionally reveal the strongest aspects of this extraordinary band, but may be too quick too often to hide them beneath a distracting stage name.

MP3 :: Our Life Is Not A Movie Or Maybe
MP3 :: Unless It Kicks
(from The Stage Names. Buy here.)
And check out these songs from earlier releases:

MP3 :: The President’s Dead
(from The President’s Dead 12’’)

MP3 :: No Key, No Plan
(from Black Sheep Boy Appendix - EP)

MP3 :: For Real
MP3 :: Black
(from Black Sheep Boy)

MP3 :: A Favor
(from Sleep And Wake Up Songs - EP)

MP3 :: The War Criminal Rises And Speaks
MP3 :: It Ends With A Fall
(from Down The River Of Golden Dreams)

MP3 :: Red
MP3 :: Westfall
(from Don’t Fall In Love With Everyone You See)

Order any of these releases here
Okkervil River will be heading out onto the road for a long tour this Fall to support The Stage Names:

09/03/07 San Diego, CA - Casbah w/ Damien Jurado
09/04/07 Los Angeles, CA - Troubadour w/ Damien Jurado
09/05/07 San Francisco, CA - Independent w/ Damien Jurado
09/08/07 Portland, OR - Berbati's Pan (MusicFest NW) w/ Damien Jurado
09/09/07 Vancouver, British Columbia - Richard's on Richards w/ Damien Jurado
09/10/07 Seattle, WA - Neumos w/ Damien Jurado
09/13/07 Denver, CO - Marquis Theatre w/ Damien Jurado
09/14/07 Omaha, NE - Waiting Room w/ Damien Jurado
09/15/07 Iowa City, IA - Picador w/ Damien Jurado
09/17/07 Milwaukee, WI - Pabst Theater w/ Damien Jurado
09/18/07 Chicago, IL - Logan Square Auditorium w/ Damien Jurado
09/19/07 Urbana, IL - The Canopy Club (Pygmalion Festival) w/ Damien Jurado
09/21/07 Toronto, Ontario - Lee's Palace w/ Damien Jurado
09/22/07 Hamilton, Ontario - Pepper Jack's Cafe w/ Damien Jurado
09/23/07 Montreal, Quebec - La Sala Rossa w/ Damien Jurado
09/24/07 Burlington, VT - Higher Ground w/ Damien Jurado
09/25/07 Boston, MA - Middle East w/ Damien Jurado
09/26/07 Northampton, MA - Iron Horse w/ Damien Jurado
09/28/07 New York, NY - Webster Hall w/ Damien Jurado
09/29/07 Philadelphia, PA - Johnny Brenda's w/ Damien Jurado
09/30/07 Washington, DC - Rock and Roll Hotel w/ Damien Jurado
10/02/07 Carrboro, NC - Cat's Cradle w/ Damien Jurado
10/03/07 Athens, GA - 40 Watt w/ Damien Jurado
10/04/07 Tallahassee, FL - w/ Damien Jurado
10/06/07 Houston, TX - Walter's on Washington w/ Damien Jurado
11/06/07 Colchester, UK - Colchester Arts Centre
11/07/07 Nottingham, UK - The Social
11/08/07 Newcastle, UK - Newcastle University
11/09/07 Glasgow, UK - Nice N Sleazy
11/10/07 Manchester, UK - Manchester Roadhouse
12/04/07 Brighton, UK - Pressure Point
12/05/07 Liverpool, UK - Liverpool Academy
12/06/07 Dublin, Ireland - Whelans
12/07/07 Leeds, UK - Brudenell Social Club
12/08/07 Cardiff, UK - Barfly
12/09/07 London, UK - Luminaire

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