Quick Review (LP): I Am Very Far by Okkervil River

Okkervil River
I Am Very Far
Jagjaguwar; 2011

My Rating: C+ (58/100)

Best Tracks: "Rider", "Lay of the Last Survivor", “Show Yourself”

Hyper-literate indie folksters get all smoove.

NOTES

  • Here’s a band that’s had some brilliant moments, but never quite done it for me on a whole.
  • "Piratess" recalls "Billie Jean." Sort of weird for Okkervil River.
  • "Rider" sounds quite a bit like their former tourmates New Pornographers.
  • That guitar fill on "Show Yourself" is a nice touch.
  • I think I like "Wake and Be Fine", but it’s just so darn bombastic. A little intimacy would be nice.
  • What is it about Okkervil River that rubs me the wrong way? It might have something to do with Will Scheff’s phrasing and a bit of over-singing? As much as I complain about mumbly vox, I guess I don’t like the other end of the spectrum either.
  • What this record doesn’t have is amazing songs. Any. Their last few records each had a handful (at least).
  • Also, although they reach for a new sound this time, they either keep a little too close to safe territory or they go too far. I haven’t figured out which one.
  • As I read through the song titles, I’m detecting a a heavy mortality theme herein. May be more to interact with here than at first glance.
  • Pitchfork and Paste both really like this one. For that reason, I’ll continue to give it consideration throughout the rest of the year. I’m just really put off by the wall of sound and find Sheff a bit overbearing. Also, I don’t think they wear the R&B flourishes particularly well. Then again, maybe I have to walk a lot longer to get to where Sheff apparently is at this point.

ATTRIBUTES
Cohesion (4.5/5)
Concept (4.5/5)
Consequence (4/5)
Consistency (3.5/5)
Songs (3.5/5)

Quick Review (LP): Brothers by Black Keys

The Black Keys - BrothersBlack Keys
Brothers
Nonesuch; 2010

My Rating: C+

Best Tracks: “Too Afraid To Love You”, “Ten Cent Pistol”

This comes off like a grimier version of Maroon 5. I can see why lots of folks would be crazy about these guys, but it all seems a little bit put-on, a little too hip. I’m not going to trash it, because I could see it growing on me after a while, but I definitely don’t find enough in the way of hooks to make this seem like more than a couple of indie rockers who appear to be emulating a classic soul sound. They are at their best when they branch out sonically, as seen on “Too Afraid To Love You.” Additionally, some of the tracks attain an admirable urban-noir vibe (“Ten Cent Pistol”). I’ll be they do a killer cover of “Billie Jean.” Otherwise, this is decent, but nothing special.

Band website
Pitchfork review
Paste review
Metacritic reviews