Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Shameless Plugs Ahoy!

Hey gang,
your numero uno DJ DJ here, ready to cut you with some phat vinyl!
(don't get the reference go here)

ok a little while back i was predicting some great releases for this year, well time has marched on and they are upon us so i though it would be a good chance to recap on what i said back then (issue 7 for the foggy of memory among you).

First of all there's Kanye West's third album, you can check out my opinion of that over at The Scene. Then there is Okkervil River's latest, (this is actually a review i submitted to Mike, but hey lets have it again.)

The STAGE NAMES, Austin Texas collective Okkervil River’s fifth album had big shoes – and high expectations – to fill. Following up 2005’s conceptual beast BLACK SHEEP BOY was never going to be easy. So sprawling was the material that the band released an Appendix EP to fill out the rest of their creative juices on the topic. You would be forgiven for thinking this would leave them spent, artistically speaking, but here they are with an equally ambitious and enjoyable record.

The dark lyricism of lead singer/songwriter Will Sheff is still self-evident, as is the musical accompaniment of his accomplished piers. Like its predecessors before it, Stage Names maintains musicianship that is at turns lilting (Savannah Smiles), progressive (Plus Ones) and well, just plain rocking (Unless It’s Kicks). This is bolstered by the fact that the band have been playing for over 10 years together, but it is still very much Sheff’s leadership as a songsmith that leaves a lasting impression.

Although it would be a stretch to describe his voice as lush, let alone stunning. Sheff’s strength lies in matching words to his voice, in that both are scruffy and self-effacing; having a poetic ability to draw the listener into a story, while reminding them with some conversational tone that what they’re hearing is rock. For example flowing lines such as “No dissolve to silver of grey – that’s his new lady/where she glows just like grain on the flickering pane/of some great movie;” then harshly juxtaposing with a yelp of “Hey, I’d watch it!” Witness too, the clever wordplay of “Plus Ones” as Sheff takes popular songs and simply adds one to their respective titles (100 red balloons anyone?).

The genius of Will Sheff lies in his overarching themes across the album. Like BLACK SHEEP BOY before it, this could loosely be considered a concept album as the sprawling milieu of characters and themes concerning fame, fortune, fragility (and of course the stage) across the album’s nine tightly constructed tracks.

Okkervil River fans will not be disappointed, and if you’ve never heard them before? Well there’s never been a better time to sample the band’s thrilling take on Americana.

Key Tracks: Our Life Is A Movie Or Maybe, Savannah Smiles, Plus Ones, You Can’t Hold The Hand Of A Rock And Roll Man.

cool, so one disappointment and one expectation met - rock on 2007.
I'm planning on doing a Rilo Kiley/Foo Fighters double soon, but i've yet to hear ECHOES, SILENCE, PATIENCE AND GRACE. So... yeah...

Here's some great tracks you should be checking out -
Kanye West - Flashing Lights: an obvious highlight from his third release, synth pop ahoy!
Kate Nash - Merry Happy: Making headlines over in Britain, touted as "this year's Lily Allen" only better i'd say.
The Knives Of Neptune - Lakes: expect a fuller review of this title tracks' parent album soon, Aussie Progressive Rock? yes please.
Public Enemy - Bring The Noise: finally caved in and bought 1988's IT TAKES A NATION OF MILLIONS TO HOLD US BACK - still as potent two decades on.

OK Alright, Alright OK - that's enough for today
I always have and always will be - your number one DJ DJ.


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