My 50 Favorite Albums of 2008: #23

Number 23


After the brilliance of Okkervil River’s 2004 album, Black Sheep Boy, was released, it had started to be less of a secret that Will Sheff was one of the most fascinating storytellers in all of music. In the years since that record, the group have been on a relentless tear of touring and recording, assembling a body of work that is filled with some of the most original stuff that today’s indie rock has to offer. Last year saw the release of The Stage Names, a dark and skillful album that would eventually be understood as the first half of a concept project that had been brewing inside Sheff’s mind for some time. That record introduced a major step forward for the band, artistically putting them at the frontlines of all of the top groups of the decade, but it was still a bit too somber to give them a widespread breakthrough commercially. Less than a year later, enter The Stand Ins; a cleaner-sounding, more welcoming album that demolishes its predecessor as far as accessibility is concerned, and officially puts Okkervil River in more of a spotlight. The Stand Ins is very impressive – but being impressed is something we’re just accustomed to feeling when we’re listening to Sheff and Co. – but stacked up against The Stage Names, it doesn’t quite triumph as a whole. However, there are enough singular masterpieces on the album to highly praise it. “Calling And Not Calling My Ex” is one of the best songs I’ve ever heard that deals with the inexplicable ups and downs of learning to let go of someone. Plus, stabs at the ultra-egos in the music industry, like “Singer Songwriter” and “Pop Lie”, are amazingly catchy tunes that should usher in a parade of new fans to the dominance of a band that simply deserve their due after ten years of hard work. Although it is certainly not their finest hour, it seems like The Stand Ins will be the one responsible for the group financially benefiting (finally) for what they were born to do.

1.Stand Ins, One
2.Lost Coastlines
3.Singer Songwriter
4.Starry Stairs
5.Blue Tulip
6.Stands Ins, Two
7.Pop Lie
8.On Tour With Zykos
9.Calling And Not Calling My Ex
10.Stand Ins, Three
11.Bruce Wayne Campbell Interviews on the Roof of the Chelsea Hotel, 1979

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4 Responses to “My 50 Favorite Albums of 2008: #23”

  1. Robert Says:

    Phenomenal.

  2. Ferguson Says:

    Yes. Certainly one of the top 10 bands working today.

  3. Bob Bland Says:

    To me, this is BY FAR the best thing Sheff has ever done. Made #12 on my list.

  4. Ferguson Says:

    I love this record, but there are a couple of others he’s done in the past I like a bit more. Still, this is terrific.

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