Sunday, July 20, 2008

Okkervil River - The Stand-Ins

Release Date: 09/09/08
Genre: Indie folk rock

The Stage Names was one of the Top Albums of last year so I'm surprised to see them release another one so quickly, but from what I've gathered, this was suppose to be the second half of what was planned to be a double album. After the excitement of hearing new material that wasn't Shearwater began to die down, The Stand-Ins is good, but below expectations.

Review: After the brief 47 second intro, "Lost Coastlines" is a great opening track. I like how he sings in his high 'over singing' vocal and then he switches to his deeper side so it's like there's two singers. oh wait, that's Jonathan Meiburg. They sound so much alike, i didn't even know. The music is good. piano and guitars. Horns. The end goes a bit too long with the "la la la la laaa."

"Singer Songwriter" is a upbeat song, reminding me of Will Oldham or the faster side of alt-country in general. I like that the structure isn't too standard. The instrumentation have the choruses, but I always liked songs when the vocalist just goes on and on making it sound like he is telling a story so the flow feels natural.

"Starry Stairs" is a mellower track. It's okay. I feels like it ended too soon. "Blue Tulip" follows it and it's another okay track, but 6 minutes of it causes it to get dry near the end. However, if i select the tracks out of context of the album, I find it easier to disgest so perhaps I'm just getting burnt out.

I have a weird fractionation with "Pop Lie" because it sounds out of place, but i do enjoy it at times, but I also dislike it at times. For the most part, I like it just because it woke me up again. It's the only song where he'll strain his vocals. A fairly bit come and go track.

I really liked "On Tour With Zykos" and it's my favorite off the new album. It's a ballad, but it's the prettiest song on the album. I really like the line "I was supposed to be writing/The most beautiful poems/And completely revealing." Soft pianos and guitaring on the quarter notes to start, layers of melodies and horns adding. I like that the last minute is just vocal less so it just lets me think.

"Calling And Not Calling My Ex" is another upbeat track and I'm having trouble deciding where i stand with it. Because at this point in the album, I feel that it isn't special, but if i selected it, it's a pretty well done song. I wish his vocals would crack more.

The last song is called "Bruce Wayne Campbell Interviewed On The Roof Of The Chelsea Hotel, 1979." I now, what? I like it better than "Blue Tulip." Again, it's good, but a little uninteresting as the closing track and I don't really feel anything sadly even though i can sense it trying. I do like it however when i'm not paying attention and the 3minute mark of "take me i'm yours morning starship." What does it mean, no idea, but it sounds good.

Summary: I'm a little forgivable because I don't think anybody expected this album to blow them away. Maybe i need more months to stop comparing albums, but it's weaker than their past albums. There were time during my 'review' writing time where I'll get ready to say this song is weak, but then I'll play them again to double check, so my 'okay' songs became 'pretty good' songs. So it's hard to say, but unless the leak copy out right now is an unfinished mix, I'm gonna give the album a 6.

Key Tracks: Lost Coastlines, Singer Songwriter, On Tour With Zykos
Rating: 6/10

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