All 2 entries tagged Okkervil River
August 25, 2009
One thing that Emusic seems to be alright at, is stocking those little filler EP’s and singles that seem to get lost and never listened to when you’re wandering through your CD collection. I managed to gather a few, and all these bands have been featured on this blog sometime before I’m sure…
The National – Wasp Nest
At the same time as grabbing this, I picked up the self-titled debut, but that, understandably, felt a little unfocused. By contrast, this stop-gap EP between the sophomore LP Sad Songs for Dirty Lovers and the breakthrough Alligator is happily a more succinct distillation of what the band are all about. It features a song each from both those albums (in my opinion, the best ones – a live version of Murder Me Rachael and All The Wine) along with five non-LP originals.
At worst, these do feel like outtakes from the albums, and keep a rather stately pace compared to the featured two, but The National have always been about these understated buildups. Matt Berninger’s deep distinct vocal wrapped around cycling guitar and piano figures or sometimes also a battering rhythmic section (see the end of Cherry Tree or Murder Me Rachael), cementing the identity the band have built up over the course of their career. Rinse, lather, soak, if you’re feeling better… repeat. While it’s no means the best place to start (I’d say the latest, Boxer), if you don’t have the time to delve into the back catalogue, this allows you to dip in at your leisure.
Spoon – 30 Gallon Tank EP
I love Spoon, so I was a little gutted that the Emusic catalogue could only muster up this EP as an offering. The titular single was taken from their sophomore album Series of Sneaks (back in ‘98!), and has the guitar squall of debut Telephono and the more careful arrangement and production approach that would come to the fore with next album Girls Can Tell. That said, unless you really like the band I can’t recommend this record alone, the ‘remix’ of Car Radio (subtitled ‘Different’) is pretty much unlistenable, and the other two tracks pretty much define the term ‘B-side’.
However! Don’t let it put you off the idea of getting into Spoon… they are great! Honest!
The Clientele – That Night, A Forest Grew EP
I have posted about the last two Clientele albums on this blog and this EP acts as a compass pointing towards the next one, Bonfires on the Heath, arriving anytime soon. That forthcoming album will feature one of the tracks here, Share the Night, that shows a blissed out, dare I say, funky side to the Clientele.
All the tracks here share a similar ‘bounce’, an energy that expounds upon the previous effort’s glimmers of sunshine. However, Alistair still sounds as resigned as ever (“Somehow in this dream I’m getting tired” he laments in jaunty opener Retiro Park) yet the Zombies guitar freakouts that poked their head out from the haze on Impossible and Garden at Night make a return with more purpose and more vigour.
A great EP from these guys (and gal), making the wait for the new album, if not unbearable in anticipation, at least somewhat bearable with four fun pop songs to stick on repeat while we do…
Okkervil River – The President’s Dead
I’m going to see the band up in Glasgow in a few weeks, and in a moment of momentary madness I grabbed this single, even though you can download the track for free here and listen to the B-side The Room I’m Hiding In on Spotify.
That said, I love the song, it’s by no means their best, but a great stream of consciousness opening with a simple four chord turnaround before eventually bursting (literally) into a glorious one-line title-repeating chorus with that keyboard line that sounds like it’s breaking the speakers it’s being played through. These things don’t have to be complicated… just good. The B-side is less good, but who cares? This is goooood.
The Long Blondes – (various B-sides)
Just a couple left here from the now (very sadly) broken up Sheffield five-piece, so I’ll make it easy for you. B-sides are generally composites of other ideas or experiments… aren’t they?
Five Ways To End It = A Knife For The Girls x “Couples” more dance-y direction
Fulwood Babylon = Giddy Stratospheres – Giddy + (backing vocals x (chorus + reverb)) + a groove to kill for…
In layman’s terms, yeah, pretty good actually…
Next up: rather predictably… August! In another predictable move I’m going to change the format again! And do single albums again, because I tend to write more, and more clearly… I think.
December 07, 2006
This album had been on my ‘to get’ list for a long while, but never stumped up the money to bring it in on import. It was originally released in 2005, but in the UK in 2006 (which is why it’s valid here) but I actually bought it in Auckland a few months ago.
Okkervil River play songs that have been characterised as emo, rock, indie and country (the section where I found this) because the songs aren’t afraid to rock, Will Sheff’s vocals are definitely charged with emotion, yet there’s a side to the songs that is tender and intelligent.
The album itself is a concept of sorts, beginning with a cover of Tim Hardin’s, Black Sheep Boy, with a view to take it’s namesake through a series of songs later on in the album. Immediately after comes the quiet strum of For Real, a few hushed lines are given before a guitar stab comes out of nowhere, jolting you to attention and really kicking the song and album into gear. It’s actually quite surprising that Okkervil River have decided to give the two strongest songs off the album, the other being Black, away for free, but even more satisfying when the likes of The Latest Toughs and So Come Back, I Am Waiting prove that they haven’t given away all their album’s assets.
The quieter and more subtle songs took longer to take hold, but have since grown with repeated listens, recognising the horns prevalent in A King And A Queen and the following A Stone that lift the previously dour tone whilst hearing Song of Our So-Called Friend work its wonder with a jaunty strum and tinkling keyboards and Get Big release with a gorgeous slide guitar solo.