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Okkervil River - Black Sheep Boy Appendix (Cover Artwork)

Okkervil River

Okkervil River: Black Sheep Boy AppendixBlack Sheep Boy Appendix (2005)
Jagjaguwar

Reviewer Rating: 4.5
User Rating:


Contributed by: MarlonMarlon
(others by this writer | submit your own)

Far away our parents slept in while we watched our fire burn. They dreamed of nothing and got nothing in return. And the water slipped on slowly past our bodies in the weeds, pulling plastic wrap and razors on its current through the reeds. Then I woke up one cold morning, felt an absence at my back.
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Far away our parents slept in while we watched our fire burn. They dreamed of nothing and got nothing in return. And the water slipped on slowly past our bodies in the weeds, pulling plastic wrap and razors on its current through the reeds. Then I woke up one cold morning, felt an absence at my back, and I searched and stared but only the river stared back.
Will Sheff is a modern literary genius. His lyrics are profound and "novelesque" and the stories he tells are heartbreaking and real, even when they exist in some sort of fantasy realm. Fourteen and fifteen-year-old girls seem to be flocking over to the Bright Eyes boat when it comes to "deep" lyrics, and while I respect Conor Oberst I can also confidently say that Will Sheff of Okkervil River is on a different level. He surpasses all of his peers; you name a figure noted for their great lyrics and I can tell you how Will Sheff is better. Colin Meloy? Sheff is more concentrated and more serious. Tim Kasher? Sheff is less of a brooder and his goals and stories stretch farther then a divorce that was half a decade ago. Ben Gibbard? Sheff isn't bittersweet and nostalgic -- he's up front, he's here and now.

Earlier this year, Okkervil River released a concept album entitled Black Sheep Boy. Those who know me personally are aware that Black Sheep Boy is my favorite CD of 2005; so, needless to say, when the followup / B-side EP Black Sheep Boy Appendix was announced, I was pretty excited (pre-ordering the CD, obsessing over the release date, and ogling over the record online all count as pretty excited, right?). I was convinced that the release would end up being better than the CD and I would enter some sort of nirvana or some other form of complete bliss as soon as the sound waves hit my ears. Unfortunately, Appendix doesn't top Black Sheep Boy, but it's still damn good.

The EP starts out with a delicate ballad about the Black Sheep Boy and missing children (a subject visited later on as well). That tune ends quickly and then swells into the first true song of the album, the bass-weighty folk-rocker "No Key, No Plan," which focuses on tossing morals aside and calls the listener to just live their life, centering on lines like: "There's no key, there's no plan; I discovered that. And, truly, I don't think you'll find a happier man," and "You float up high and it isn't a sin. And there isn't a hell where we'll be sent. There's only now, and there isn't then. So just breathe it in." The next song is "Black Sheep Boy #4," which seems to be a story that is a prelude to "Another Radio Song," which is the EP's best track. "Another Radio Song" starts out slow, but by the second verse has turned into a crescendo-heavy thrashing of the Black Sheep Boy and his mannerisms; Sheff sounds incensed as he verbally tears down his own fictional character limb by limb.

On the last track, "Last Love Song for Now," Sheff and Co. close out with drunken gang vocal cheers of "Over and over and over and over again!," perhaps attesting to how much I've been listening to this CD since I got it. Black Sheep Boy Appendix is definitely worth your money, not only if you're a fan of the band but if you're a fan of "indie folk" in general. And if masterful lyrics and genius folk song craft are as important to you as they are to me, then Okkervil River needs to be part of your CD collection.

 

 
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Fine Print: The following comments are owned by whoever posted them. We are not respon sible for them in any way. Seriously.
Anonymous (December 24, 2005)

start with Don't Fall in Love with Everyone You See. then go from there.

and O.R. has nothing to do with emo. nothing. stop contextualizing everything.

Marlon (December 23, 2005)

El, I'd start out with Black Sheep Boy and make my way back in time from there.

ElVaquero (December 23, 2005)

What would you recommend as the best Okkervil River album to keep me from liking the cliche emo one?

Anonymous (December 22, 2005)

weakerthans have the best modern lyricist as far as im concerned. the decemberists and modest mouse have some pretty good moments as well.

okkervil river has had good lyrics (dont fall in love.... and seas to far to reach) but the new stuff is very cliche emo. no different then bright eyes really.

Marlon (December 22, 2005)

Let's try before Lancelot comes and ruins it.

Icapped2pac (December 22, 2005)

You're right, Marlon. Let us lay down our swords and have our way with the maidens.

lou (December 22, 2005)

from what i've heard, i like it. thought about picking this up today, then i remembered i'm broke. but someone should send me the LP as an early christmas present.

ps - if i wrote a review, i'd write whatever the fuck i wanted and answer to no one. so lay the fuck off the kid.

ElVaquero (December 21, 2005)

Checked the album out on Soulseek because of the review. Shit's good.

Marlon (December 21, 2005)

No, you're right. It would have to be "past" because it seems like he was using it in the present tense, and what I said would be (ironic, I think) past tense. Anyway, all in all it's a petty arguement from all sides and I'd rather not be having it.

Marlon (December 21, 2005)

Main Entry: 1pass
Pronunciation: 'pas
Function: verb
Etymology: Middle English, from Old French passer, from (assumed) Vulgar Latin passare, from Latin passus step -- more at PACE
intransitive senses
1 : MOVE, PROCEED, GO
2 a : to go away : DEPART b : DIE -- often used with on
3 a : to move in a path so as to approach and continue beyond something : move past; especially : to move past another vehicle going in the same direction b : to run the normal course -- used of time or a period of time
4 a : to go or make one's way through b : to go uncensured, unchallenged, or seemingly unnoticed

The way he used it would have to be "passed" I believe because it was being used as the verb. I would have to be doing the "passing"/"graduating" of the tenth grade. However, and since I do not feel like going back to look, it could have been in the adverb tense. Which is:

Main Entry: 4past
Function: adverb
: so as to reach and go beyond a point near at hand

But, I believe what I said was correct. I, of course, have been wrong about these kinds of things a lot so... whatever.

Icapped2pac (December 21, 2005)

"You're the one who can't spell "passed", hoss."

And Marlon, YOU'RE the one who doesn't know the difference between "passed" and "past".

Apparently you both need to go back to school.

Marlon (December 21, 2005)

lol! As much as I love that song, thinking out of context I see what you mean.

rkl (December 21, 2005)

marlon, :/, when i read the lyrics, first thing i thought of was acid bath.

Marlon (December 21, 2005)

"why? because you sound like a wannabe pitchfork writer who hasn't made it pass the tenth grade."

You're the one who can't spell "passed", hoss.

colin (December 21, 2005)

the lyrics don't really do much when you read just a few samples. the black sheep boy & the appendix ep are stories told, it'd be like quoting a few sentences out of a novel and expecting people to see the brilliance.

Anonymous (December 21, 2005)

""hey dick, why couldn't you just say "Black Sheep Boy is my favorite CD of 2005"??? same fucking thing."

Hey Twat Faced Nerd Ass Bumble Fuck, why does it matter?"

why? because you sound like a wannabe pitchfork writer who hasn't made it pass the tenth grade.

Anonymous (December 21, 2005)

i fucking love this band

Marlon (December 21, 2005)

I think my New Years Resolution should be to get rkl to agree with something I say.

rkl (December 21, 2005)

these lyrics really arent anything special. i like this band, but.. no.

Marlon (December 20, 2005)

I wrote this and submitted it awhile ago, Brian's reasons for posting it when he did are beyond me.

Anonymous (December 20, 2005)

Yeah, I mean, a site reviewing it in that very time period... Must mean the stars are alligned or something.

RIGHT ON! OVERKILL! WOOT

-Will

Anonymous (December 20, 2005)

How odd, I was just downloading this from Soulseek after I saw it on Pitchfork's top 50 list.

Marlon (December 20, 2005)

"hey dick, why couldn't you just say "Black Sheep Boy is my favorite CD of 2005"??? same fucking thing."

Hey Twat Faced Nerd Ass Bumble Fuck, why does it matter?

darkstarm (December 20, 2005)

Samson. Thank you.

Anonymous (December 20, 2005)

"Score is for the Decemberists, someone should review Picaresque because it rocks."

One, this isn't a Decemberists review, so don't "score" them.

Two, write the fucking review yourself, you little baby.

Anonymous (December 20, 2005)

Score is for the Decemberists, someone should review Picaresque because it rocks.

Anonymous (December 20, 2005)

Medio-core

Anonymous (December 20, 2005)

"Those who know me personally are aware that Black Sheep Boy is my favorite CD of 2005"

hey dick, why couldn't you just say "Black Sheep Boy is my favorite CD of 2005"??? same fucking thing.

Anonymous (December 20, 2005)

If you like these lyrics, you should check out the Handsome Family. It's dark alt-country, a little more based in a traditional sound. Crazy song-writing.

You are crouched before the fire in a state park by the highway and through the heavy pine trees ten-ton trucks go groaning by. Like the screams of your Aunt Barbara who went crazy in the '70's, wrote poems to Jimmy Carter but forgot to feed her kids. But, it's the first time you're together since he got out of the hospital. Raccoons in the darkness drag off your hot dogs buns. But, you're happy just to lie there in a plastic tent from Wal-Mart like sticks and fallen dead leaves to feed the fire of the world. Because which is more important, to comfort an old woman or see visions of the heavens in the stumps of fallen trees?

John K. Samson has shown that he has the potential to write material like this, Reconstruction Site was just too preoccupied with polished pop to really show what he can do. I still go back to "History To The Defeated" and "Pamphleteer" all the time, plus the vignettes from the last album were great, if short.

Anonymous (December 20, 2005)

black sheep boy is the album of the year. minus the bear and decemberists are close though

Marlon (December 20, 2005)

"better lyrics??
bad religion, weakerthans, american nightmare, dead kennedys.
and modern life is war, for dead ramones, the song of the year."

Your fucking point was lost, please re-state.

Anonymous (December 20, 2005)

better lyrics??
bad religion, weakerthans, american nightmare, dead kennedys.
and modern life is war, for dead ramones, the song of the year.

Lapse (December 20, 2005)

havent heard this yet, but score is for westfall.

colin (December 20, 2005)

i will say that "another radio song" is one of the best songs of the year, and okkervil river rocks the fuck out live.

Lapse (December 20, 2005)

gotta love the coverart as well

Anonymous (December 20, 2005)

about time you guys reviewed some okkervil river...everything they have done has been great...great live show too

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