Review Summary: Okkervil River fuses simplistic instrumentals with a loud broad voice for their 2007 effort The Stage Names.1 of 4 thought this review was well written
Having two sister bands is sort of like having an alter ego. Take Sparta
and The Mars Volta
for example. Both hailing from Post-Hardcore legends At the Drive-In
represents the Post-Hardcore side while The Mars Volta
represents the more Neo-Psychedelia/ Progressive side, yet they still have roots to their mother band. Then there are the two bands Shearwater
and Okkervil River. Both show similarities and differences. While Shearwater symbolizes more of a Folk/ Indie side, Okkervil River exemplify a more Post-Punk side. With Okkervil River’s 2007 release The Stage Names
, they loudly demonstrate their sound.
With the opening of the album “Our Life Is Not A Movie Or Maybe” you hear thumping drums and lead singer Will Sheff go from a mellow sound to belting out every note. “A Hand To Take Hold Of The Scene” shows a quicker and more fun sound with up-beat guitar and a toe-taping bassline. You get a softer feel of the album with “Savannah Smiles”. A quiet guitar along with placid vocals makes for a slow song to relax to. “Girl In Port”, while just as relaxing as a song like “Savannah Smiles”, features a smooth, lush piano and guitar and peaceful vocals from Sheff. “You Can’t Hold The Hand Of Rock And Roll Man” snaps this streak of mellow songs with its more straightforward rock sound featuring a slight distortion of the guitar, louder vocals and some broader instrumentalism with loud trumpet sounding violin in the background. “John Allyn Smtih Sails” is an excellent way to close the album with it starting out soft as it grows in to a loud broad song with thumping drums and soaring vocals.
As far as the overall sound of the album goes, I can say that this is extremely vocally driven with Will Sheff’s loud broad voice. If I could compare it to anyone else’s voice, I’d say that it deeply embodies a young Bono and David Byrne, Post-Punk voice. He will show soft smoothness one second then belt out a broad loud sound the next. Even when he is not at his loudest, he still shows no signs of timidity or feebleness what so ever. With the instrumentals, they base them off of pure simplistic melodies. No solos and chilling breakdowns or any thing like that but rather very modest and very well fitting with the Will’s voice.
Overall, with mellow, lush instrumentals complimenting loud, broad vocals, Okkervil River make a valiant effort. They don’t try too hard to make jaw-dropping solos or overwhelming breakdowns, but rather just make simplistic music to relax to, proving that Okkervil River are one of the most unsung bands that I’ve heard.
Broad, loud voice
If you don’t like a Bono-ish voice and you wont like this
For stream of the entire album: