So far this blog has mostly dug up older music you might have missed. There is, as always, a lot of great new music out there. Okkervil River’s The Stand Ins is an album worth hearing from last year, and is a classic example of an indie record achieving greatness. Most of the time the difference between “indie” and “classic” boils down to production values. They sound indie because they sound cheap, and they were. When a band transcends their station and creates work that can stand up there with the big boys, it’s really an accomplishment worth applauding. Most of the time it’s that one album when the planets were aligned, everything came together, and the results surprised everybody. These are the records that never leave my playlist.
I think the Stand Ins will turn out to be one of those. Based on the fact that it survived whatever hype and still sounds good in 2009, I think it will still sound good in 2018.
Because I’m old, it reminds me most of Lola era Kinks, if I were younger, I’d mention the Smiths, and a lot younger, Arcade Fire, but I really don’t like referencing other artists as a comparison because so often it’s not helpful, or fair to the artists.
Using a broad pallette of instruments, Okkervil River have a bright, folk rocky, sound all their own. Will Sheff’s songwriting is first rate. A world class act that will be hard to follow.
Okkervil River is an indie rock band from Austin, Texas. Formed in 1998, the band takes its name from a short story by Russian author Tatyana Tolstaya. They self-released their first album, Stars Too Small to Use, which led them to the South by Southwest music festival. After recording their first album in a garage, they signed with Jagjaguwar. Okkervil River continued by releasing four more albums, including critically lauded concept album Black Sheep Boy.
After a period of touring for Black Sheep Boy, Okkervil River followed up with The Stage Names. The album sold 10,000 in its opening week in the United States. The group released a free covers album, Golden Opportunities Mixtape from their live performances.
The band has garnered positive critical reception. Especially noted are each song’s lyrics, intricate instrumentation, and thematic albums. In addition, they were recently featured on the talk show Late Night with Conan O’Brien and have performed with high profile bands such as The Decemberists, The New Pornographers, and Lou Reed.
Okkervil River released their most recent album The Stand Ins on September 9th, 2008. They are promoting the release with a series of cover songs from the album on YouTube by people they’ve met as a band.
Okkervil River’s founding members became friends in high school in Meriden, New Hampshire, and after parting ways for college moved to Austin, Texas to live together and start a band. The band consisted of singer-songwriter Will Sheff, Zach Thomas on bass and mandolin, and Seth Warren on drums. Their first gig was at Steamboat in Austin on January 11, 1999.
On April 17, 2006, Okkervil River signed with Virgin/EMI in Europe. The label re-released Black Sheep Boy and its follow-up Black Sheep Boy Appendix as a double disc on April 28, 2006. Jagjaguwar eventually followed suit, releasing the Definitive Edition with extra songs and videos.
The Stage Names, their fourth full-length studio album (produced again by Beattie), was released on August 7, 2007. The disc features the solidified line-up that toured extensively on Black Sheep Boy and the Black Sheep Boy Appendix, with Cassidy replacing Draper who joined Shearwater. The album was met with critical acclaim and debuted at number 62 on the Billboard 200 with 10,000 copies sold.
Okkervil River released their fifth album The Stand Ins on September 9th 2008. The album was conceived as a sequel to The Stage Names. The album charted at #42 with 11,000 copies sold, according to the Billboard 200. On December 12, 2007, the band freely released a nine-song mixtape entitled Golden Opportunities Mixtape via their website. These recordings, along with the upcoming appendix, are the first to feature contributions from new touring keyboardist, Justin Sherburn, who joined the band in November 2007.
At a show in Wellington, New Zealand on 5 March 2008 it was announced that guitarist Brian Cassidy would be stepping down from the band as a full-time touring member. Shortly after this on 12 March 2008, it was subsequently announced that Cassidy’s temporary replacement would be Charles Bissell of The Wrens for their spring and summer tours.  In the autumn of 2008 Lauren Gurgiolo, singer and songwriter of the Austin, Texas band The Dialtones, joined as a permanent member, playing electric guitar, mandolin and banjo.
On April 21, 2009, the “Pop Lie” single was released backed with the B-Sides “Millionaire” and “Pop Lie (One Man Band Version)”