Jagjaguwar

Okkervil River’s latest album I Am Very Far is one of our favorites of the year so far. They recently released a 7″ for “Your Past Life Is A Blast” and they performed a b-side from I Am Very Far at The Crystal Ballroom in Portland, OR. The song is called “I Guess We Lost” and the band is kicking into full tour mode as we speak. Dates below.

Okkervil River – Your Past Life As A Blast

Video: Okkervil River – I Guess We Lost

Far From Home Ep#17 Okkervil River “I Guess We Lost” from Into The Woods on Vimeo.

TOUR DATES:

08/22/11 Redmond, WA- Marymoor Amphitheatre w/ The Decemberists, Fruit Bats
08/23/11 Vancouver, BC- Malkin Bowl w/ The Decemberists, Fruit Bats
08/25/11 Troutdale, OR- Edgefield Ampitheatre w/ The Decemberists, Point Juncture,WA
08/26/11 Troutdale, OR- Edgefield Ampitheatre w/ The Decemberists, Ages & Ages
09/09/11 Ithaca, NY- State Theatre of Ithaca w/ New Villager, Bird of Youth
09/10/11 Columbia, MD- Virgin Mobile Freefest @ Merriweather Post Pavilion
09/11/11 Richmond, VA- The National w/ Wye Oak
09/13/11 Raleigh, NC- Lincoln Theatre w/ Wye Oak
09/14/11 Athens, GA- 40 Watt Club w/ Wye Oak
09/15/11 Pensacola, FL- Vinyl Music Hall w/ Wye Oak
09/16/11 New Orleans, LA- Tipitina’s w/ Wye Oak
09/17/11 Dallas, TX- Granada Theatre w/ Wye Oak
09/19/11 Lawrence, KS- The Granada w/ Wye Oak
09/20/11 St. Louis, MO- The Pageant w/ Wye Oak
09/21/11 Milwaukee, WI- Pabst Theatre w/ Wye Oak
09/22/11 Chicago, IL- Vic Theatre w/ The Felice Brothers
09/23/11 Cincinnati, OH- Midpoint Music Festival
09/24/11 Rochester, NY- The Club at Water Street w/ Wye Oak
09/25/11 Burlington, VT- Nor’Easter Festvial @ Waterfront Park

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I Am Very Far sounds less like the title of Okkervil River’s new album than it does an acknowledgement by singer-songwriter Will Sheff about how much he’s grown. And he has come very far indeed.  On the album Sheff dares the band and listeners to join him. It’s as if he’s saying, “Everything’s so much better out here. Trust me. Come, take a look.” Make no mistake, this is Will Sheff’s album.

Long time fans may find I Am Very Far less approachable than some of the band’s other offerings like The Stand Ins, but that doesn’t mean it’s not ultimately rewarding. It’s contagious. It feels like Sheff has something he needs to get off his chest and he wants to share it so badly he doesn’t worry about his performance. For much of the album he sounds like he’s too far off the mic.

I Am Very Far is more violent than the band’s previous work. To be sure, Austin’s finest have never shied away from carnage (see: For Real), but this album is chock full of it.

The drumbeat for blood sounds on the opening track, “The Valley:”

Watch the sun switching in the sky off and on
Where a friend stands bleeding on a late summer lawn.
Slicked back bloody black, gunshot to the head.
He’s fallen in the valley of the rock n’ roll dead.

The brutality continues on the syncopated “Piratess:”

Oh murderess in the wilderness,  with your victims all around you.
Their combined love forms a pool your knife’s reflected in.

All this violence doesn’t go unrecognized. In the stand out track, “Lay of the Last Survivor,” Sheff mourns the toll it takes:

What a way down.
What a ride.
What a slide.
Spin around.
What a life to have known.”

Towards the end of the long player we’re reminded that everything is going to be okay. Was it merely a dream? On the catchy “Wake and Be Fine” Sheff begs, “Wake and be fine. You’ve still got time to wake and be fine.”

The instrumentation is darker and more experimental than what most of us are used to hearing from Okkervil River. But after a few spins I’m convinced this album hasn’t gone too far.

Okkervil River – Wake and Be Fine

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The Cave Singers – No Witch [Album Review]

by Woody on January 28, 2011

I’ve been a huge fan of the The Cave Singers over the years. There’s something almost hypnotic about their music, with Derek Fudescos melodic guitar riffs and Pete Quirck’s phantom vocals. Its ideal for driving north out of the city or for a snowed-in day like today.

Their third full-length, No Witch, is being released by Jagjaguwar on February 22. The rationale behind their switch from Matador to Jagjaguwar is a mystery, but I have a suspicion its related to their choice to bring in Randall Dunn (Black Mountain, Sunn O))), Boris) as producer this time around. Jagjaguwar describes No Witch as “grander and more lush” than their first two albums, Invitation Songs and Welcome Joy. I tend to agree, but the verdict is out on whether the direction works for me. There was a sparseness that I loved about their previous work. Stripped down music is vulnerable, and vulnerable music is difficult to do well. The trend towards over-production is disconcerting for those of us who value subtlety in music.

Having said this, No Witch is growing on me as an album. I quickly fell for the second half of the album, starting with Haller Lake. Clever Creatures is a standout. I’m also starting to get into some of the new elements, like the gospel chorus on Haystacks and the Indian classical vibe on Outer Realms.

As is often the case, the definitive moment will be seeing this material live. Speaking of which, they’ve just announced a series of tour dates this spring.

The Cave Singers – Swim Club

Feb 12   Olympia, WA                    The Northern The Northern
Feb 22   Seattle                                 Easy Street Records (Queen Anne)
Mar 10  San Francisco                  Great American Music Hall
Mar 12  Visalia, CA                         The Cellar Door
Mar 13  Los Angeles                       Autry
Mar 14  San Diego                           Casbah
Mar 20  San Francisco                  Great American Music Hall
Mar 21  Birmingham                      Bottletree Cafe
Mar 23  Atlanta                                The Earl Restaurant and Bar
Mar 30  Washington DC                The Red
Mar 31  New York City                  Music Hall of Williamsburg
Apr 4     Buffalo                                 The Mohawk Place
Apr 5     Toronto, Canada             The Drake Hotel
Apr 7     Chicago                               Lincoln Hall
Apr 8     Bloomington, IN             Russian Recording

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The Cave Singers’ Swim Club [new mp3]

by oz on December 3, 2010

The Cave Singers are set to release a new album, No Witch, on February 22nd.  They claim that the album is grander and more lush than previous efforts. And more rocking, with the help of producer Randall Dunn (Black Mountain). The band offered “Swim Club” as a free download and taste of what to expect from their 2011 release.

The Cave Singers – Swim Club

No Witch tracklist:
Gifts and the Raft
Swim Club
Black Leaf
Falls
Outer Realms
Haller Lake
All Land Crabs and Divinity Ghosts
Clever Creatures
Haystacks
Distant Sures
Faze Wave

No Prosecution If We Bail

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Wolf People’s Steeple, Psych-Rock hatched in a chicken barn [Album Review]

October 27, 2010

England’s Wolf People are back with their first proper LP, Steeple. They actually released a clusterfuck of an album called Tidings (which I liked), but this release is much more accessible. Lead singer Jack Sharp recorded Tidings on his own, but for Steeple he put together a full band and, my God, do they jam. […]

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Peter Wolf Crier – Inter-Be [Album Review]

June 11, 2010

On the second morning of SXSW I mustered up the energy to roll out of bed to see Peter Wolf Crier’s set at The Muzzle Of Bees party. I had listened to an advanced copy of Inter-Be while at work and wasn’t able to get a firm grasp on the music with all the distractions.‚  […]

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Sunset Rubdown Vs. Handsome Furs: Who’s your favorite float on the Wolf Parade?

August 17, 2009

Sunset Rubdown vs. Handsome Furs? Sounds like an indie music porno if I’ve ever heard one. After releasing the great At Mount Zoomer last year, Wolf Parade’s Spencer Krug and Dan Boeckner both went headlong into their side projects this year. Instead of reviewing each separately, let’s just toss them in the ring for a […]

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Pink Mountaintops – Outside Love [Album Review]

June 15, 2009

From the magnificent city of Vancouver (known for its recently vanquished Canucks at the hands of the mighty Hawks) come the sounds of native son Stephen McBean and his close collective of contributors.‚  McBean is better known for his role fronting the psychedelic Black Mountain, but don’t mistake Pink Mountaintops for a “side project.” Outside […]

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Pink Mountaintops unleash Vampire [new mp3]

April 15, 2009

Pink Mountaintops have a new album called Outside Love coming out on May 5th via Jagjaguwar. You may know Steve McBean (above) from his other band, Black Mountain. For those familiar with Black Mountain, you may be expecting some heavy psychedelic rock. “Vampire” is surprisingly smooth with McBean’s voice accompanied mostly by an acoustic guitar. […]

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Dead Oceans/Jagjaguwar/Secretly Canadian announce SXSW 2009 Showcase lineup

February 18, 2009

The Dead Oceans/Jagjaguwar/Secretly Canadian combined SXSW showcase is Thursday night at The Mohawk and they’ve just released the lineup: Odawas Phosphorescent Bishop Allen Women BLK JKS Mt. St. Helens Vietnam Band Julie Doiron These Are Powers Foreign Born Richard Swift Akron/ Family Here are a few mp3’s to sample: Odawas – Harmless Lover’s Discourse Phosphorescent […]

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