Okkervil River: I Am Very Far

I Am Very FarI’ve always had trouble categorizing these guys. It’s like indie rock Americana or emo-alt roots rock. And that’s what makes them them, defying categorization and classification. This album starts right in their wheelhouse, with big sound that includes stomping, handclaps, multiple-instrumentation and impassioned vocals. Then they transition right into their other strength, with a slinky baseline, up front weepy vocals (a la Chris Isaak) and a great ghostly pop sensibility with just a hint of humor. The production throughout is littered with all sorts of flourishes and surprising sound effects and immaculate layering. I think that’s one of this album’s greatest strengths: just the pure sound quality of the whole thing, swelling in all the right places and dialing it back to strummed guitars one second and then huge booming sound complete with choruses the next. And they seem to pull it off effortlessly. With the constant building to bombastic theatrical heights, this isn’t the album you want to necessarily put on late at night to fall asleep to, as this is engaging stuff, stuff that almost commands you listen to every wonderful and varied twist and turn.