Monday, November 21, 2005

Okkervil River / Black Sheep Boy Appendix / Re-review

It is all starting to make sense to me now...I was sent a promo cd sans art so little did I know the cd I have is not the cd PFM gave the below review of / 8.5 rating. They share the same title minus the word Appendix so I mixed the two up. My review is actually of the long EP not the full length. I will seek out the full length and give Okkervil a proper round two. Thank you anonymous for setting me straight.

I haven't given up on this band yet!


studiously literate, melodic, and concise

There is a feeling of defeat when I don’t love a record as much as the rest of the world seems to. Music publications and blogs from all over this planet lay praise upon this piece of work as if it was delivered to them with a halo.

“Isn't it exciting when a relatively unknown, but critically-acclaimed band goes from making a great record to an even greater one? In the fairly recent music past, this has been the case with Wilco, The Shins, and Radiohead (all name-checked for a reason, but we'll get to that). Now, it is also true of Okkervil River.”

"We will float until we learn how to swim. Yes, that’s an In the Aeroplane Over the Sea reference, and yes, Okkervil River has that sort of mythical genius." – Magnet’s Eighth Best Record of 2003

There are literally pages of e-battles madly dueling which band was better live on tour, The Decemberists or Okkervil River. Having missed O.R. live this past tour and not being a Decemberists fan I am wholly disqualified from taking either side.

Looking to understand the Okkervil River audio catnip to humans phenomena, just listening to Black Sheep Boy Appendix wouldn’t be enough; I needed to digest it completely. We spent several weeks of quality time together and since then I have grown to admire the Crooked Fingers’ smoulder, the achy Robert Smith vocal quivers, and the occasional raspy Bono-esque deep from the chest belt. (I am a U2 fan so that isn’t a jab.)

The recording nerd in me loves the spacious unpolished live feel of the entire record and it unmistakably adds an extra dose of vitality to these carefully worded tales.

“No Key, No Plan”, “Another Radio Song”, and “Last Love Song for Now” rise to the top of the track listing as my favorites but something struck me the last time I listened through the record in full. I had a Violent Femmes / Dead Milkmen flashback but I can’t really explain why either of those popped into my head. Maybe the dark to light ratio is balanced in a similar way?

I can feel the lot of you shaking your head at me in a shameful way but what can I say, this is the "special" way my brain works from time to time.

Just shy of 25 minutes, there is a lovely warmth found on Black Sheep Boy Appendix but it does not carry the kind of poetic charge that leaves my heart in a heap on the floor. I would sooner pull out a Cursive record if I were in desperate need of an intelligent emo outlet. (Sorry but I like my country a little emo and my emo a little less country.)

Understandably Okkervil River is going to make just about everybody’s end of year favorite list so one mediocre reaction will hardly taint the bigger picture. The PFM 8.5 rating is truly what I believe most listeners would give this cd so who am I to ruin a good thing.