I can't believe that it has already been a year since the last Okkervil River album. The last album came out last August in 2007 and it seems to somehow already be September in 2008. I was going through my big Okkervil River phase back then and really liked their last album, The Stage Names. I talked about it in my blog last year and you can read it here. There's something totally comforting about moving back to the part of the world you grew up in. Now I know why people stay in the same small town they grew up in for their entire life. I can't imagine living in a small town and still living in a small town, but I guess that is because I grew up in a very large town-- a large city in fact! If you asked me a year ago if I thought that I would ever end up back in Hollywood I would have never thought it possible, but here I am back in Hollywood in the middle of summer. It has been over 6 months now so I think I am starting to feel at home again. I may not totally be in love with the summer weather in Los Angeles, but it does feel normal and comforting. My body is accustomed to it. So back to Okkervil River...The new album out this week is called The Stand Ins. I quickly fell in love with that last album and this new one is just sort of an extension of that last one. It could have easily been recorded at the same time -- one year is really not that long of a time. The artwork is still fantastic. The lyrics are still great and make you feel like you are listening to a fantastic book on tape. The album is not boring and drawn out. It just has that literary feel to it.
These last two albums, The Stage Names and The Stand Ins, were meant to come out as a double album. It makes sense. The artwork is actually connected, not just because it is the same artist and uses the same color scheme: You can actually put The Stage Names above The Stand Ins and it makes a completed picture of a skeleton man reaching his hand out from the bottom of a lake or possibly a river. I know all albums usually have some sort of a theme, but I like when themes actually connect two albums together. This just makes the albums more like novels. It makes you look forward to the next album to see how the story continues. I sort of wish the story could continue the trilogy on to another novel type album, but I think this might be the end of this particular story.
In case you have not heard these guys yet or still have no idea what this album sounds like, let me try to explain it. They do not stray far from your favorite Subpop band like the Shins or Band of Horses. The songs are catchy pop songs but intertwined with a more intense and morbid sort of sound, like maybe your favorite Black Heart Procession and Tindersticks songs mixed together with some Shins and Shout Out Louds. The songs are right there on the edge of making you want to cry, but they are just optimistic enough to not quite take you there. I recommend that you check out these albums. You can mix them up together and play songs from the 2 albums randomly and try to guess what order they were originally intended to be listened in, or just listen to them back to back the way they were meant to be, then place the two albums on top or each other and try to come up with your own meaning to the artwork. The vinyl works best for this experiment.
Here is a video for "Our Life Is Not A Movie But Maybe" from their album before this new one, The Stage Names...
also out today...
Lightbulbs by Fujiya & Miyagi
Why Are We Not Perfect? by Jesu
Some Small History by Portastatic
Pull the Pin by The Stereophonics
Knowle West Boy by Tricky
Cream Cuts by Tussle