Thursday, September 18, 2008

Okkervil River-The Stand Ins

Songwriting is not dead!
That is the mantra for Okkervil River. On their latest release, The Stand Ins, Will Sheff and his band mates accomplish this goal. The Stand Ins, is a follow up to last year's album, The Stage Names. Originally conceived of as a double album, Stand Ins, follows thematically the template the band set up on 2007's "The Stage Names" (side note: both covers actually form one picture). Usually double albums or linked albums have inherent flaws in them; redundancy of sound, lack of fresh songs and an overall lessening of quality on the 2nd or follow up disc. In the case of, The Stand Ins, the opposite is actually true. 
The album starts off with an eerie synthesizer sound intro and you're wondering where this is going to take me? The intro leads into the first true song on the album, "Lost Coastlines." This song is without a doubt the strongest cut on this album. I can't say enough about it; it's rhythm has you bobbing your head, the lyrics put you right into the song and the vocal play between the two male leads is incredible. I repeat this song every time I hear it. Once you are done with this track you are kept on board the Okkervil express and the clever lyrics of the aptly named next track, "Singer Songwriter" will have you smiling (I heard cuts by The Kinks on your speakers/
I saw Poe and Artaud on your shelves/While The Last Laugh's first scene on your flat panel screen/Lit Chanel that you've wrapped around yourself). Other standout tracks include, "On Tour With Zykos" and "Calling and not Calling My Ex." The album's 11 total tracks make it easily accesible. I think the album clocks in at under 45 minutes.
Okkervil River didn't get their first big break until 2005's concept album, Black Sheep Boy. They followed the success of that album with the aforementioned 2007's, The Stage Names, both of which I recommend highly. The Stand Ins, is a wonderful album and a great place to start your love affair with Okkervil River. For those interested Okkervil River will be playing at the Republic in New Orleans on Tuesday, September 30th. Come out and support a great band!

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