New Band of the Month: July – Reflection

For the Seventh month of the New Band feature, I selected indie folkies,  Okkervil River (read my initial thoughts here).

Now, this is what I’m talking about.  The whole idea of doing this every month this year was to hopefully surprise myself by discovering that a band I’d previously ignored was really this truly great missing link in my music library.  Alas, while I have enjoyed a lot of the music I’ve listened to so far (most of it, even), none of it has necessarily jumped out at me as Music I Must Have.

Until now.  Okkervil River is so perfectly up my alley that I’m completely dismayed that I haven’t been listening to them all along.  This is totally a case of ‘too many bands, too little time.’  I had no reason to think I wouldn’t like them, but I just never gave them a try.  Well, damn, I’m glad I have now.

I love the lyrics worthy of great literature.  I love the music that somehow manages to feel intimate while hovering into epic territory.  I love Will Sheff’s voice, despite the fact that he clearly has a limited range and rarely breaks free of the talk-sing style.  Actually, I think that’s the secret weapon of the band, because when he does strain his voice for greater emotional weight, it’s wrought with pain and starkly open-hearted pathos.  I could see how that might grow wearisome for some listeners, but for me it packs a consistent, satisfying wallop.  It’s like a slightly less-pretty but rawer version of the National, and I love the National.

Seven months into this mini-project, and I’ve found my first true, “Oh My God, How Have I Never Listened To Them?” band.  It was worth the wait.

Will I Buy An Album?  Yes, yes, and yes.  The only real question is, which one.  Everytime I listened to an album, I kept thinking, “Oh, this is the one I’ll buy.”  And then I put on the next and liked it even more.  The more I delve into this band, the more likely I’ll be to just keep picking up their entire catalog.  So, where will I start?  Probably with Down The River of Golden Dreams, just because it’s an early album of theirs, but the next time I have some extra expendable cash (when will that be?) I’ll download as many as I can get.  Yes, I’m that enamored.

Favorite Song:  Again, kind of hard to nail it down.  I admit (like the previously mentioned, the National), a lot of Okkervil River’s songs are similar in tone and style, so it’s hard to distinguish just one song and say, “Oh, that’s the stand out track.”  This isn’t a singles type of band.  But when that tone and style fits me so perfectly, I’m not complaining.

I still dig “A Stone,” the first song of theirs I ever heard, but to pick that one would be a cop out.  So, I don’t know, “The War Criminal Rises and Speaks.”   Why?  Because it’s the track I’m listening to as I type this (plus, it’s awesome).  Honestly, I can’t pick, which is what is so exciting about this month.  I have truly, deeply, fallen for this band.

Next Month: Posers