"Your Past Life as a Blast" is the third single from “I Am Very Far” (JAG185) from Okkervil River. The release of this single coincides with the band's late Summer tour and festival season, and will be serviced aggressively to Radio and Press.
"Rider" is the second single from the forthcoming LP “I Am Very Far” (JAG185) from Okkervil River. The release of this single coincides with the band's Summer tour, and will be serviced aggressively to Radio and Press."The goal was to push my brain to places it didn't want to go. The idea was to not have any idea – to keep myself confused about what I was doing," frontman Will Sheff says about Okkervil River's newest album. The resulting record, 'I Am Very Far,' is a startling break from anything this band has done before. By turns terrifying and joyous, violent and serene, grotesque and romantic, it's a celebration of forces beyond our control.
"The goal was to push my brain to places it didn't want to go. The idea was to not have any idea – to keep myself confused about what I was doing," frontman Will Sheff says about Okkervil River's newest album. The resulting record, 'I Am Very Far,' is a startling break from anything this band has done before. By turns terrifying and joyous, violent and serene, grotesque and romantic, it's a celebration of forces beyond our control.
"Wake and Be Fine" is the first single from the forthcoming lp “I Am Very Far” (JAG185) from Okkervil River. To announce the new record, Okkervil River performed “Wake and Be Fine” with Carl Newman (The New Pornographers) and members of The Roots on The Late Show with Jimmy Fallon in January.There are advance promo trips planned to coincide with release of the single and video for “Wake and Be Fine." Will Sheff will be performing acoustically and reading from the lyric book, "I Am Very Far."
"Mermaid" is the darkest song you'll hear all year: a self-contained fable shot through with evocative and disturbing imagery but rising to a sweeping, romantic, oddly moving climax. This waltz-time ballad gestures towards the tattered folk of Okkervil River's beloved 2005 album Black Sheep Boy, but somehow unearths something much more mysterious and blurrily ambiguous. With "Walked Out On a Line" we get a glimpse of what might further emerge. Choral and atmospheric and stripped of any of the acoustic textures that have defined much of the band's past work, "Walked Out on a Line" is a smooth-sailing symbolist fever-dream, fractured and impressionistic lyrics floating over a sea of sighing voices, glittering rhodes, and a gently driving beat. It's an ambitious statement about how much innovative fuel the band has to burn, an as fleeting a 5:20 song as you're likely to hear.
As the second single from The Stand Ins, "Pop Lie" takes the meta-referential mission of Okkervil River to a new distinctly pop level. Stephen Deusner had the following to say about it for Pitchfork: "[Okkervil frontman Will] Sheff wants to look beyond common pop song notions to discover something truer and more essential, no matter how disillusioning it may be, which is the central, enthralling contradiction for Okkervil River: Even as they ruthlessly deconstruct pop music, they make great pop music. The darker Sheff gets, the more honest he sounds and the more absorbing the song. By that equation, the stand-out on The Stand Ins is "Pop Lie", an exquisitely bleak dismantling of singer-songwriter pretensions." There are two additional tracks on the single, on which Sheff plays the role of a whole band: vocals, guitars, bass, and drums. There's an orphaned song from The Stage Names / The Stand Ins sessions called "Millionaire" which displays the storyteller in Will rising to the surface in a soaring acoustic piano-laden shuffle. Also included is an alternate slowed-down, fuzzed-up version of "Pop Lie".
Pre-orders will ship to arrive in the mail by the release date of September 9, 2008. All pre-orders made between August 11 and September 9 will receive download codes via email for digital versions of the album which will be available for download as early as September 5th. Orders will be shipped with posters for both The Stage Names and The Stand Ins at no additional cost.OKKERVIL RIVER’s new full-length album The Stand Ins is the sequel to 2007’s critically acclaimed The Stage Names, which Pitchfork praised as “…one of the year’s best,” and The New York Times proclaimed, “This band’s musical arsenal keeps getting fuller.” The Stand Ins was recorded in Austin and produced by longtime collaborator Brian Beattie and Okkervil River. The album features 11 songs and includes the track “Lost Coastlines,” on which Sheff and recently departed Jonathan Meiburg of Shearwater share a duet on the joys and hardships of trying to keep the band together. Of the process Will Sheff explains, “We had so many songs we were excited about that we briefly threw around the idea of just putting out a double record. Instead, we decided to take a group of songs that fit with each other and turn that into The Stage Names, setting the rest aside for a future release, a The Stage Names sequel." The Stand Ins is that sequel, part two of a staggered double album. Like artist William Schaff’s embroidered artwork, which depicts what’s happening underneath The Stage Names’ front-cover quicksand hand,The Stand Ins picks up exactly where Part One left off but also delves deeper into the story and theme of The Stage Names. It is a full-length, fleshed-out, deeply ambitious labor of love.
*We are now out of the deluxe 2xcd version - though limited copies will be available in stores on 8/7/07. The standard single disc version is now available for sale online.* Okkervil River's Black Sheep Boy was one of the most acclaimed releases of 2005. Kelefa Sanneh wrote in the New York Times that "Will Sheff, leader of the Austin indie-rock band Okkervil River, writes like a novelist.” With their newest release, The Stage Names, Okkervil River dynamite the walls of Black Sheep Boy’s gothic, moss-walled castle from the inside to let in the glaring sun. Where Black Sheep Boy presented a fairytale of dark babbling streams and high distant towers, The Stage Names takes place in an unmistakably modern world, where snowy televisions blast into cheap hotels the spectral images of soap stars endlessly betraying each other, where losers in late-night bars languish to the beat of their favorite songs, where broken-down actresses place their final cell calls from lonely mansions high in the hills. Riddled with characters real and fake, with true-life biography and brazenly fabricated autobiography, with the relics of high culture and the crumpled-up trash of low culture, The Stage Names is a cinemascopic take on the meaning of entertainment. And, crucially, it entertains. Reverberant with echoes of Motown snap and girl-group pop, redolent with ripe whiffs of dirty rock ‘n’ roll, shining with the shimmy of Bo Diddley, with the shimmer of the Velvets, with the swagger of the Faces, and with a glittery sprinkling of cheap perfume over the top of it all to disguise the stink, The Stage Names is a relentlessly-paced and ruthlessly thrilling journey.
This is the definitive double-disc set which brings together Okkervil River's ground-breaking Black Sheep Boy project in its entirety - including the original album, the 7-song Black Sheep Boy Appendix EP, the song "The Next Four Months" (originally released on the "For Real" CD single), the "For Real" video as well as a new video of a magical alternate slower take of "No Key, No Plan". Enjoy this panoramic perspective of a modern masterpiece and one of the most critically acclaimed albums of the new millennium. Black Sheep Boy is Okkervil River's most ambitious and cinematic record to date, a love story and adult fable carved in lacerating rock and roll, desolate late-night country weepers, and a few shining moments of sheer, shameless pop.
“The President's Dead" is the first release by Okkervil River since 2005's masterful Black Sheep Boy project. Having spent most of 2005 touring and writing, the band and Jagjaguwar wanted to rush this single out before 2006 came to a close. Locked in the grooves of this limited-edition vinyl-only release is what might be Okkervil River's most accessible and most contentious song, "The President's Dead." A two-minute and forty-two second serving of alternative historical fiction camouflaged as a folk anthem tarted up as a pop single that never was, "The President's Dead" depicts with tenderness and empathy the shock felt by a sensitive young Republican upon hearing news of an assassination over the radio, its lyrics shifting sneakily from images of public horror to those of private tenderness as its music performs a similarly schizoid leap. Meanwhile, sequestered away on side 2, the lyric that bobs atop the loping, twangy pop of "The Room I'm Hiding In" depicts a paranoid flight from vastly more powerful pursuers determined to exact the most severe punishment and revenge.
Okkervil River's Black Sheep Boy Appendix is not just a companion piece to their critically-acclaimed 2005 release; it's also a condensed, alternate vision of that record's imagery and themes, with the ultimate intent to exhaust and destroy both. This ambitious mini-album rounds up and reworks the band's favorite unfinished songs (tracked for the Black Sheep Boy full-length) and then punctuates and bookends them in brand-new compositions; in the process, it shows songwriter Will Sheff and company both revisiting themes from their past and shooting off in some startling new directions. “Missing Children” entombs an unnerving fairy tale monologue in an arrangement that recalls The Marble Index or Tilt; its melody is reprised twenty minutes later in a frenetic and jangly rocker that might have been hatched from the side of Love's “A House is Not a Motel.” In between is everything else; suffocatingly lush string instrumentals, skittering found sounds, lean rockers, deafening epics, the rhythm section interrogating the lead singer, and “Black Sheep Boy #4,” which messily dispatches the Black Sheep Boy character in a lurid crime scene high on a plateau of hallucinatory, cinematic folk.
Black Sheep Boy is Okkervil River’s most ambitious and cinematic record yet, a love story and adult fable that evokes the mature songcraft of Leonard Cohen’s New Skin for the Old Ceremony, the sophistication of Scott Walker’s Scott 4, the shambling slow-motion bravado of Neil Young’s On the Beach, and the raw nerves and trick effects of Big Star’s Third/Sister Lovers. It also occasionally echoes Lou Reed’s Transformer in that it is actually the band’s most playful and confident record by far, delighting in linguistic games, scrapping all caution and reserve, reveling equally in sheer pop, lacerating rock and roll, and straight-up country weepers. The most fully-realized and wildly adventurous Okkervil River record yet also introduces into the modern folk bellwether’s traditional palette of mandolin, pump organ, steel guitar, Wurlitzer, strings and horns such previously foreign elements as children’s keyboards, digitally-manipulated field recordings, and dirty splatters of distorted guitar. The longing might be keener, but the fun is funner this time around, too; somebody has spiked the drinks, and there are at least two bullets in the Russian roulette chamber.Most of the songs for Black Sheep Boy were written by Sheff after he’d moved out of his house to spend all of 2003 on the road, touring for Down the River of Golden Dreams and road-tripping around the country during off weeks. After rehearsing many of the new songs on the road during tours with Califone, John Vanderslice, Azure Ray, CocoRosie, and Clem Snide, the band retreated to an un-air-conditioned Austin, Texas tin roof shed to solidify the arrangements before going into the home studio of Brian Beattie (an ex-member of Austin legends Glass Eye as well as a producer for Daniel Johnston) who also recorded the band’s Jagjaguwar debut Don’t Fall in Love with Everyone You See.
This is the tinderbox to the fantastical fire that is Black Sheep Boy, the much anticipated full-length record by Okkervil River, coming out in April 2005. This CD-single, priced exceptionally low, will be in stores while Okkervil River tours the United States with the Decemberists in March and April. The first track, “For Real”, is from the full-length record. The second track, “The Next Four Months”, is previously unreleased. And the third track, “For the Enemy (Live)”, is a very special recorded glimpse of Okkervil River performing live.
On Sleep and Wake-Up Songs, Okkervil River and principal songwriter Will Sheff take advantage of a break between albums to present a small collection of five more meditative songs that toss little boomerangs across the distance between what is and what could never be. They try on a loose-fitting felt suit of Tim Hardin-esque folk-pop, wade until soaked into a misty psychedelic duet, strap on an electric guitar for a lark, stack the overlapping refrains of Sheff and Minus Story’s Jordan Geiger into a Phil Spector-esque ecstacy of sexual confusion, and finally strip things down to naked and initiate a straightforward love song. These five songs have a thematic unity and a serious purpose, but the modesty of the EP format allows the band to carry them off with a candid sense of playfulness. Next spring will see a new full-length from Okkervil River; in the meantime, rest awhile in these songs.
The first widely distributed Okkervil River full-length on Jagjaguwar is now available in the vinyl format. This is the record that put the the Austin, Texas-based group on the map. Uniting the strains of moody chamber pop contemporaries like Tindersticks, Arab Strap, and Bright Eyes with the ragged emotional vulnerability of classic folk singers like Leadbelly and Dock Boggs, Okkervil River plays music that is both lush and organic, beautiful and unsettling. Supported by some of Austin's best musicians (including a duet with Daniel Johnston) and produced by Brian Beattie, it is no surprise that Don't Fall In Love With Everyone You See is an accomplished musical work. What makes this album truly singular, however, is that, lyrically, it is so good it makes your head hurt. The good kind of hurt. It reads like no other record we have ever come across, a very contemporary, reflexive masterpiece owing a lot in tone to the very best of the Russian and Southern Gothic literary traditions.
Okkervil River’s Down the River of Golden Dreams takes the band’s hallmarks—lush, eclectic orchestration that evokes chamber pop and soul, lapel-gripping emotional urgency, and the lyrical, direct songwriting of frontman Will Sheff—and expands and elevates them in service of a stunningly ambitious set of new songs. If last year’s Don’t Fall in Love with Everyone You See was the middle of the darkest night of the year, Down the River of Golden Dreams is the earliest light of a morning that could either bring the first breeze of spring or a battalion of tornadoes. On it the band stretches their wings. They shake off the fear and trepidation of the last record and try to look life in the face, emboldened by distorted blasts of Wurlitzer, guttural stabs of Hammond organ, urbane strings and jaunty horns that could be the work of a shitfaced Canadian Brass. Down the River of Golden Dreams combines with Okkervil’s trademark melancholy a sense of drama and play at which the last album only hinted. It oozes the band’s signature string-destroying folk-rock attack and umbilical chamber-pop swoon, but it also echoes the venomous cabaret of Jacques Brel, the off-kilter swagger of the Faces and Bob Dylan’s Blonde On Blonde, and the dusky balladry of Nick Cave. In addition, it displays a new confidence in frontman Will Sheff, whose concise, literary lyrics and emotionally direct delivery are rapidly distinguishing him as one of rock music’s best new songwriters. Critical raves from the likes of Rolling Stone, MOJO, Alternative Press, and No Depression variously compared the band to Neutral Milk Hotel, Wilco, Bright Eyes, Tindersticks and Will Oldham. This, their third full-length album, was recorded in San Francisco, California, in early 2003—at John Vanderslice’s Tiny Telephone studio—with engineer Scott Solter (The Mountain Goats, John Vanderslice, the Court and Spark, Tarentel) at the board.