Artist of the week: Okkervil River
Okkervil River, the great American band from Austin led by singer-songwriter Will Sheff, were not only the first band to make a career via their successful passage to the now iconic SXSW festival, but arguably the only one to master a delicate balance between the sophistication of indie rock and the rooted gravitas of folk-rock.
Since the new millennium, the band released eight LPs and three collaborative albums (with Julie Doiron, Shearwater and Roky Erickson) that vary from great (the bulk of their discography) to absolute masterpieces (2007’s The Stage Names is the obvious choice), consolidating Will Sheff as one of the most talented and audacious (check his meticulously crafted conceptual records such as 2013’s The Silver Gymnasium) singer-songwriters of his generation.
Their new album, Awake, pretty much sounds like a Sheff solo album, not because of the lyrical content (all Okkervil records have been so far autobiographical), but because of the prominence of collaborations with jazz, folk, and classical musicians. The result is his most epic and diverse record to date, showcasing the vast array of muses that have been inspiring one of the most overlooked bands of the new continent.
João Pedro da Costa is a web studies scholar and a music fan.