Sunday, November 15, 2009

Closing Out The Decade:Okkervil River - Black Sheep Boy (2005)

I wrested with the idea of coming up with a list for the AGP's favorite releases of the last 10 years. After some serious back and forth, I made the decision that the last thing we need is another list. Instead we will feature some of the albums that have made a lasting impact on us. These are the albums that we told our friends to buy, annoyed our spouses with, and ultimately inspired us to launch this blog.

From now until the end of December The AGP will feature our favorite albums of the decade. Each week we will feature posts highlighting our favorite albums of the 00's. We will even have a few contributions from the AGP's extended family. We invite your comments, we want to know why you agree with us or perhaps why you think we're off our collective rockers.

We hope you'll join us as we take a look back at the albums that shaped the past 3,653 days our lives.

The first time I heard Okkervil River was shortly after the release of 2003's Down The River of Golden Dreams, the bands excellent second LP. It was one of those rare eureka moments, when a band makes you perk up and pay attention. I had no idea what it was, but I knew I had to have it immediately. I owe my local Newbury Comics a debt of gratitude for the impromptu introduction. Since then I have followed the literary song writing of Will Sheff and his Austin, TX band mates closely. I've also collected everything the band has committed to tape so far and I can hardly wait for the bands next release. Maybe that rumored collaboration with Rocky Erickson or the follow up to The Stand Ins will materialize in the new year.

Although the band officially formed in Austin, TX in 1998, the bands nucleus came together several years earlier in Meriden, NH when Sheff, as well as fellow founding members Zach Thomas and Seth Warren were high school friends. After college the three would leave The Granite State for Austin's burgeoning music scene, hook up with Johnathan Meiberg as well as Okkervil River's currents line up, and eventually ink a recording contract with the Indiana based indie power house Jagjaguwar.

On April 5th, 2005 Okkervil River released Black Sheep Boy, the bands third and most ambitious album to date. The album leads off with the title track, a Tim Hardin cover, not only is it a great opener it sets the tone and theme for this semi-conceptual record. In 2005 I was still getting my head around being a father of two and functioning on very little sleep and Black Sheep Boy came along as the perfect remedy. I can't think of a commute that year, that didn't include Black Sheep Boy in it's entirety. The complex and poetic storytelling, the superb instrumentation, and the fact that you can listen to this record at least 100 times and still discover something new, powerful, and exciting is a testament to this record. Even my excitement for the bands earlier work did not prepare me for the gigantic step forward Okkervil River took on this Americana folk rock masterpiece.

Buy Black Sheep Boy via Jagjaguwar

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