Okkervil River – The Stage Names

by Woody on August 2, 2007

Will Sheff

In a year, where almost every anticipated release has been met the hype and anticipation, the new Okkervil River has outpaced them all. The Stage Names sees the Austin outfit moving away from the concept album with glowing results.

The Stage Names is decidedly more upbeat than the darker Black Sheep Boy and it seems to fit Sheff like a glove. Actually, I don’t know what Sheff could sing that wouldn’t sound amazing. His voice is can evoke despair, power, and joy, often in the same song; a talent that few can emulate. If I had to listen to one person sing for the rest of my life it would be Will Sheff.

The album begins with “Our Life Is Not A Movie,” a song that has stuck with me since seeing it performed at SXSW 2007. As you listen, there is a cool little twist that occurs at the 2:15 mark when they launch into a guitar, piano interplay. Sheff’s vocals jump out as he sings:

It’s just a house burning
But it’s not haunted
It was your hurting
But For Not to Long

“Savannah Smiles” and “Girl In Port” are two of the other highlights on this release. “Savannah Smiles” looks out a father’s distant relationship with his daughter. I’m not sure if Sheff is talking about himself, but it is a sad and beautifully intense song. Instead of drums, the beat is kept by the ticking of a clock which to me heightens the tension.

“A Girl In A Port” is a magical song with tremendous peaks and valleys. Clocking in at over 6 minutes, its the longest song on the album and also the best. The piano part and the slight introduction of some steel guitar give the song a melancholy feel. It’s a song that you can listen to on repeat all day long.

Okkervil River – Our Life is Not a Movie

Older Stuff:
Okkervil River – No Key No Plan

Okkervil River – For Real

Okkervil River – Black

Okkervil River – A Favor

Okkervil River – The War Criminal Rises and Speaks

Okkervil River – It Ends With a Fall

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

oz August 6, 2007 at 7:34 pm

I can’t get enough of this album. My only complaint about some of the older stuff was that it was brooding at times. Stage Names is much more enjoyable for my summertime listening.

Woody August 7, 2007 at 10:53 am

In just getting my hands on the hard copy and reading the lyrics, I am simply blown away. Even without music they are just so amazing. Combine that with the always on the spot musical accopmanient and you have yourself a tremendous piece of music.

Furthermore, I think that each song is a very personal experience. Sheff sings with so much passion that it is hard not be moved by his music

Kyle August 7, 2007 at 1:35 pm

I’m really enjoying Our Life is Not a Movie, this is an excellent song, and I’m excited to run out and grab Stage Names asap.

Thanks for bringing this band to my attention.

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