• 12-19-2003, 10:21 AM
    Davey.
    The return of Friday Reviews - Okkervil River kills
    <i>If you really want to love me, well, then do it.</i>

    That's the killer closing line in the tale of an illicit love affair told in "Maine Island Lovers". The song is kind of reminiscent of Wilco's dark and moody "Via Chicago". Quite a song. I've been listening a lot to this <i>Down the River of Golden Dreams</i> CD by Okkervil River for the past couple weeks and it's been shaping up into one of my favorites of the year. The long lost Snowbunny first brought it to my attention on the old board <a href=http://forums14.consumerreview.com/crforum?50@161.JsgDazqDmJg.3@.ef9f85f><b>here</b></a> but there might have been some other talk about their previous album that I missed. It took a while, but I finally followed through and ordered this one and am glad I did. I mentioned in the Tuesday thread that it comes across kind of like a cross between Neutral Milk Hotel and Will Oldham, especially in the often warbly vocals, which also means there are similarities to the Decemberists as well. Very compelling and emotional stories. I did a search to find out what others were saying about the "Maine Island Lovers" and one of the reviews that turned up is the excellent one I included below (along with the URL) by Ruth Milne of the Rapid City Journal. Nice review at AMG as well.

    I've read that they put on quite a show and have even been compared to the now almost legendary final shows that Jeff Mangum and his Neutral Milk Hotel troupe wowed people with before disappearing into obscurity a few years ago.

    <img src=http://members.mailaka.net/davey/okkervil.jpg>


    <b><font size=+1>Music puts the light in dark journey</font></b>
    <i>By Ruth Milne,Journal staff writer</i>

    Without relying on overblown metaphor or odes to whiskey, Okkervil River takes you on a backwoods journey into the murkiest swamps and the darkest hearts and makes it fun.

    They are easily compared to Johnny Cash, but that doesn't go nearly far enough.

    Singer-songwriter Will Sheff's gentle voice, drifting on a plane between Neil Young and Radiohead's Thom Yorke, tells bittersweet tales on the recently released album "Down the River of Golden Dreams."

    Okkervil River has an appealing and original sound. "Dead Faces," a song of memories, adds accordion and banjo strains to the indie formula, and the unusual instrumentation lends a quirky energy. It's the vibrant music that keeps this song, and the others on this album, from wallowing in the misery of the lyrics. "Nobody waits for you to believe in ghosts, lit by moonlight or dawning, or in this picture of you and me."

    The Texas-based trio's musical roots are broad. "Blanket and Crib" begins like a lullaby but quickens to a rapid Elvis Costello-like tune with the biting energy of "Accidents Will Happen."

    "It Ends with a Fall" has an engaging keyboard melody that reminds me of the Beatles, with the swelling atmosphere of "Let It Be" or "Strawberry Fields."

    The songs on this album usually begin with a soothing folk-country rhythm, while a cascading climax creeps up on you and the lyrics crawl through your skin.

    "We take each night's journey to the hotel in a hurry, where we love without worry on a bed that's five days dirty. And we read without irony from a book my husband bought for me," Sheff sings in "Maine Island Lovers," a song as lush and poetic — and just as unsettling — as a Nick Cave ballad. Although he is singing about a relationship, it's clearly not a love story; it's creepy, not romantic, when Sheff croons, "When I fell on the concrete it was lovely, because you could see what's been running so hot in me."

    "The War Criminal Rises and Speaks," about atrocities committed during the Vietnam War, sounds awkward in theory. Subjects such as this always run the risk of leading to a heavy, self-conscious Very Important Song About Something.

    But this one succeeds; "War Criminal" is one of the high points of the album, bitter and compelling in the tradition of Bob Dylan's "Hurricane."

    "His hands are shaking, but he's not crying. And he's saying ‘How did I climb out of a life so boring into that moment?'"

    The stories are presented with quick, almost hypnotic rhyme and wordplay: "Hard-won soft furniture, fought-for fast food, defended end table that holds paperbacks and back U.S. News."

    Sheff whips startling images by almost too quickly to catch. The album requires more than one listen, but it's well worth it.

    In a gentle bluegrass twang, he sings lines like, "With your body next to me, its sleepy sighing sounds like waves upon a sea too far to reach. But I'll gather up my men and try to sail on it again."

    If you want to hear their brand of downhearted yet upbeat music before you shell out $6 for the show, Okkervil River offers several songs for downloading in mp3 format at www.jound.com/okkervil

    http://www.rapidcityjournal.com/arti.../review981.txt

    <img src=http://members.mailaka.net/davey/party.gif>
  • 01-05-2004, 09:40 PM
    Snowbunny
    How did I miss this one?
    Nice review on a very nice album, Davey. When I finally get busy and post my Top 10 of 2003, Down the River of Golden Dreams will be on that list somewhere.

    I guess I better pull out The Decemberists again and give it some more attention. I didn't make the connection first time around.

    And speaking of long lost, where the fcuk are you, Sugarbear? If the Stoneman can check in from Osaka, I'm pretty sure you can check in from where ever it is you're hiding out! I seem to remember you sneaking off to make some posts while we were hanging out in Vancouver! :)

    Snowbuns

    (Three guesses which band I'm going to see live next month!!!)
  • 01-05-2004, 10:36 PM
    tentoze
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Snowbunny
    Nice review on a very nice album, Davey. When I finally get busy and post my Top 10 of 2003, Down the River of Golden Dreams will be on that list somewhere.

    I guess I better pull out The Decemberists again and give it some more attention. I didn't make the connection first time around.

    And speaking of long lost, where the fcuk are you, Sugarbear? If the Stoneman can check in from Osaka, I'm pretty sure you can check in from where ever it is you're hiding out! I seem to remember you sneaking off to make some posts while we were hanging out in Vancouver! :)

    Snowbuns

    (Three guesses which band I'm going to see live next month!!!)

    Not to intrude or anything, but I picked this disk up last weekend, and it is VERY good.

    :rolleyes:
  • 01-06-2004, 05:11 AM
    audiobill
    Hmm........
    Snowbun, Davey, and tentoze approvals......hmm........i'll just have to seek this one out.

    Thanks for the beacon.

    Bill
  • 01-06-2004, 08:47 AM
    Snowbunny
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by audiobill
    Snowbun, Davey, and tentoze approvals......hmm........i'll just have to seek this one out.

    Thanks for the beacon.

    Bill

    I think you'll probably like it, Bill, but give it a listen before buying if you can. Do you like Neutral Milk Hotel? I finally got my "real" copy of In an Aeroplane over the Sea and it is definitely a classic.

    Snowbuns
  • 01-06-2004, 08:49 AM
    Snowbunny
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by tentoze
    Not to intrude or anything, but I picked this disk up last weekend, and it is VERY good.

    :rolleyes:

    Not intruding at all, tentoze. I had a feeling you'd be one who'd enjoy this rather laid-back disk. Glad you like it too!

    Snowie
  • 01-07-2004, 08:39 AM
    Davey.
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Snowbunny
    Nice review on a very nice album, Davey.

    Thanks. Looks like you pulled this post out of the Rave Recs black hole. Guess that's the main reason most of us quit doing reviews around here :)

    Nice to see you stopping by. I think we need an infusion of new genes around here. I suspect there's a little inbreeding going on so everyone should listen to something new today and report their findings.

    See ya - did you click on my sig line for the latest cute little joke that I haven't updated for quite awhile and that is kinda stupid anyway?
  • 01-08-2004, 04:36 PM
    audiobill
    Neutral Milk........
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Snowbunny
    I think you'll probably like it, Bill, but give it a listen before buying if you can. Do you like Neutral Milk Hotel? I finally got my "real" copy of In an Aeroplane over the Sea and it is definitely a classic.

    Snowbuns

    Hey, Snowbuns.

    I own real copies of both of Neutral Milk Hotel's CDs. In fact, I used one song on a comp I made last year.

    So, I take it then that I will absolutely adore this new (to me) artist.

    Thanks, again,
    Bill