Review Summary: A terrifically written, lyrically driven mess.
Indie sure is cute, isn’t it? It is a genre that has induced “hipsters” that think they suddenly have an enlightened music taste just because they’re not watching MTV anymore, this aggravates me. The music is shaped into the ultimate anti-mainstream genre, but the music has striking similarities with it. The instrumentation is certainly above something like pop music, but really isn’t all that intricate or difficult. And bands usually bounce off each others sound, which we all know mainstream does. The music is very held back, and most of the instrumental content is very quainty, cheery and overall unmoving stuff that rarely ever draws my eye.
Now, whenever I hear of an indie band that might just push the boundaries of the genre, I am always incredibly excited and hopeful to be amazed. This time, the band in question is Okkervil River. The song that I heard in advance, For Real, was shockingly great; bitterly raw, humanly depressive, coarsely brilliant. After first listening to the song, I was ecstatic, for once I hear an indie song with some balls. I hastily ran out to the record store, and picked up Black Sheep Boy as soon as I could. I ran home, put it in my cd player, and was ready to be amazed by one of the deepest and most interesting indie albums of all time…
God damn was that a let down.
One would assume, even from looking at the strange and depressing cover, that the album would deliver a maniacal and sorrowful journey. But the album really doesn’t know what mood it wants to project. In A Radio Song, So Come Back, I Am Waiting and A Glow are just as brilliant as For Real, and would indicate a perfect album. The issue is, besides those three songs, the album is ***ing happy as could be. Despite its name, Black is a danceable, cheery tune, which is the exact opposite of what I wanted. Song Of So-Called Friend has a bouncy verse that is way too jaunty. The Latest Toughs is commanding and powerful in a really happy-go-lucky and worriless way, which again is awful.
Now these happy songs are actually alright, A King And Queen has a terrific riff, and Get Big has an exhausted atmosphere that works in its favor. I wouldn’t even say any of the tracks are weak, but it’s simply that the atmosphere is all over the place. At one time Black Sheep Boy is brooding and angst-ridden, the next it’s remorsefully happy and everything I dislike about indie. This is especially frustrating considering that the moments of sorrow are absolutely breath taking, whereas the more happier passages are just as bland as the indie songs I try to avoid. The band is also much more suited in their darker atmosphere. Will Sheff’s course voice croons some fantastically evil passages “some nights I thirst for real blood, for real knives, for real cries” and just sounds like a homo otherwise; “well, loving is as loving does, and I’d say we should know, because we both have loved, have lost, and are alone”
So, I come back from my venture into indie rock quite disappointed. But just when all hope is lost, the album ends off on a terrifically brilliant note, with the closer I was hoping for; A Glow, but more importantly, So Come Back, I Am Waiting. It is slow building, epically somber and projects the atmosphere that For Real has, and is what I wish the rest of the album displayed. But the damage throughout the middle is done, and nothing can repair it. Maybe I am being too harsh on it, and was expecting too much of it before the initial listen, but it still doesn’t deliver either way. If the band could have had their footing on what direction they wanted the mood to go on Black Sheep Boy, this may have been the brilliantly dark album I wish it had been.
In A Radio Song
So Come Back, I Am Waiting
your first paragraph is asinine and shatters all your credibility.
Write about the album -- don't bitch about the genre. And I understand it's a setup for your 'let down', but really that doesn't excuse poor writing.
Plus the subsequent paragraphs just continue to explain how you were expecting a reserved, more melancholy record, but instead were met with the 'indie happiness' you spend the first 1/2 of the review making clear you don't like.
well the first paragraph is merely to set up the main reason why the album was a let down, because it was too much like generic indie. If I hadn't written the first paragraph describing my problem with indie music, not only would my major complaint against the album have no basis, the review would also be presented with no introduction.
and get your math right, 1 out of 5 paragraphs does not equal one half. This Message Edited On 05.20.09
Your first 3 paragraphs just whine about the genre -- the first one just happens to be the one that gives your opinion no leverage right off the bat.
If you don't like a genre of music, and that's the basis of you not enjoying an album -- a la; 'this sounds like generic indie, thus it bored me, 3.' Don't start your review off talking about essentially how much you just don't like the genre, it makes you seem inexperienced in your writing and come off as an ass hat.
You need to explain as non objectively as possible -- 'Rather than trying anything new or innovative, I found the instrumentation on 'Black Sheep Boy' to lack any variety or soul, it sounds like every other indie rock record your favorite local hipster is shoving down your throat on a daily basis.' Not only can you make a stab at the culture you obviously are not a fan of but you can also sound intelligent and credible, rather than 'blahblahblah I hate indie, this album is boring, I wanted a sad album, they can't pick their mood, indie iz lame.'
Only the first paragraph talks only about my issues with indie, the second talks about how I heard For Real and listened to the album, and the third talks completely about the album itself.
And you're saying this review is bad because I start it of talking about the genre. Well how is that bad? To open up a review for a specific album, discussing the genre beforehand is just giving proper background, not to mention its a relateable introduction.
You make no sense, where in the review am I not intellegent or credible in my complaints? I discuss why I hate indie, why the album is boring, explained in depth why I wanted a sad album, proved that they can't pick their mood, and why indie iz lame.
Your intro's comments are so off-base and ridiculous and sound like the exact shit someone terribly misinformed, who has only a passing interest in the genre, or who is a blind fanboy of Trent Reznor would say. Your intro just shows how naive and stupid you are before you even get around to critique the album.
well, please enlighten me on why they are so ridiculous and off-base, because now you're getting a little too fucking harsh, especially with thinking I'm a blind fanboy of Trent Reznor, go take a look at my ratings before you make judgments like that douche
No one i know listens to indie because they're under the impression that they have "enlightened taste" or because they're "not watching MTV anymore" or any other bullshit in your intro that you've inexplicably perceived as fact-- which should be obvious. And then there's this:
The music is shaped into the ultimate anti-mainstream genre
rofl no it's not, and then this:
And bands usually bounce off each others sound, which we all know mainstream does.
just what? if you mean follow trends, then that's true for every genre
and then you go on to say the instrumentation of your stereotypical indie band is not "intricate and difficult", as if that matters.
you can definitely write, but you just take on the wrong shit--revolver, that infamous goo review--with the wrong perspective. stick to what you know well man
All the lyrics in the album are basically depressing. They couldn't put every song on their paralleling the mood of the lyrics. It's called counterpoint and gives the album a better flow.
I don't have a problem with you rating this a 3. My review obviously states I completely disagree with you, but I do have a problem with how you state your arguments:
The music is shaped into the ultimate anti-mainstream genre, but the music has striking similarities with it
no, avant-garde is the ultimate anti-mainstream genre, because THAT'S WHAT AVANT-GARDE MEANS.
Will Sheff’s course voice croons some fantastically evil passages “some nights I thirst for real blood, for real knives, for real cries” and just sounds like a homo otherwise; “well, loving is as loving does, and I’d say we should know, because we both have loved, have lost, and are alone”
the latter line is incredibly well phrased and rolls of the tongue in the song. If you think that makes him a "homo", then I don't even know.
Basically your intro paragraph is as pretentious and ignorant as you claim the "genre" of indie to be. Instead of purveying your main argument in a personal manner, like saying "When listening to indie music I can't help but feel... blah blah blah", you make large, generalized criticisms that you obviously don't know enough about. And for all this, I have to continue with the negs.
ok ok, I can see your points. I agree that I really did not think over that first paragraph at all, and it is pretty dumb. I still stick to what my criticisms are in the album, although my stab at the lyrics are unfair, because the lyrcis are great in the album. I do see that the first paragraph is really unjustified, I dunno if it deserves a 0 out of 3, especially when the question is "was the review well written?" not "was the first paragraph of this review stupid?" Nevertheless, I shall work on this. This Message Edited On 05.20.09
I think you overgeneralize indie. It can incorporate such a vast array of primary and secondary genres with more established styles like jazz, techno or folk. It's really a hodgepodge kind of term, and perceptions toward it change depending on who you ask and when, as the music scenes constantly change. In that respect, plenty of indie has "balls." Review could be better.