Okkervil River EPs its way to Europe

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A look at Okkervil River's new EP + some dates

[above: Will Sheff is happy that he slept in the backseat of a bus]

Will Sheff's not one to pass up an opportunity to tour. Maybe he's the sort of insomniac who can only sleep in moving vehicles. Or maybe he's just got hoes in different area codes. Whatever, the formula for years has been Tour, Write a Buncha Songs on Tour, Release Album, Tour for Album, Release an EP of the Buncha Songs Written for Last Album that Didn't Get onto Last Album, Tour for that Album, Rinse, Repeat.

So it goes for The Stand Ins, the EP to be released in the US on September 9, which in addition to being 11 whole tracks that didn't get onto The Stage Names, is another excuse for the band go on tour, and to announce that the tour has been extended into Europe. Seriously though, 11 tracks? 40 minutes? That's a whole 'nother album.

And yet they seem to be having such a good time with it, even with founding member Jonathan Meiburg leaving to work with Shearwater full-time (which was originally a Meiburg-Sheff side project). You'd think there would at least be some harsh words spoken or beer bottles thrown or anything, but no. Least dramatic 'leaving the band' ever.

Like The Stage Names, The Stand Ins is a bunch of 60s-ish rock meditations on being in bands, liking bands, and liking being in a band. So I guess the rhythm section is intentionally dull and formulaic because the bands being paid homage to lived in a time before breakbeat. And the basslines are dull and formulaic because the bass player wasn't recognized as a human being until the early 80s. The steady tempo throughout kind of dulls the impact of the lyrics, so it takes more than a few listens to get into it.

But the last EP after-release, Black Sheep Boy Appendix, was a supercondensed, seven-track distillation of the album it followed, and so ended up being even stronger than the often rambly Black Sheep Boy. This EP though is just as rambly as the original and without the same thematic structure, and so feels more like an afterthought.

The highlights are “Bruce Wayne Campbell Interviewed on the Roof of the Chelsea Hotel, 1979” and the duet “Lost Coastlines,” which brings Meiburg and Sheff back together, hopefully not for the last time. The song is a strangely hopeful look on leaving everything behind, with lines, as usual, that seem straight out of a prose poem.

Like, “Is that marionette real enough, yet, to step off of that set and decide what a dance might mean to it?”

It ends with this happy, heedless abandon that's probably come to represent this era of Okkervil River: “And every night finds us rocking and rolling on waves wild and wide, well we have lost our way, nobody's gonna say it outright. Just go la la la la la la la la la.”

Okkervil River, “Lost Coastlines”

[Download it]

Tour dates:
08.02 Chicago, IL @ Lollapalooza
08.02 Chicago, IL @ Schubas (Lollapalooza Aftershow)
08.07 Oslo, NO @ Oya Festival
08.08 Gothenburg, SE @ Way Out Festival
08.09 Haldern, DE @ Haldern Pop Festival
08.10 Urbino, IT @ Frequenze Disturbate Festival
09.12 Lawrence, KS @ The Bottleneck
09.13 Omaha, NE @ Slowdown
09.14 Madison, WI @ Barrymore Theatre
09.15 Fargo, ND @ Aquarium
09.17 Seattle, WA @ The Showbox
09.18 Vancouver, BC @ Richards on Richards
09.19 Portland, OR @ Crystal Ballroom
09.20 Eugene, OR @ McDonald Theatre
09.21 San Francisco, CA @ Treasure Island Festival
09.23 Los Angeles, CA @ Henry Fonda Theatre
09.24 Solana Beach, CA @ Belly Up Tavern
09.25 Tempe, AZ @ Clubhouse
09.26 Tucson, AZ @ Club Congress
09.28 Austin, TX @ Austin City Limits Music Festival
09.30 New Orleans, LA @ The Republic
10.01 Birmingham, AL @ Workplay
10.02 Athens, GA @ 40 Watt Club
10.03 Wilmington, NC @ Soapbox
10.04 Richmond, VA @ The National
10.06 New York, NY @ Webster Hall
10.07 New York, NY @ Webster Hall
10.08 Northampton, MA @ Pearl Street Nightclub
10.09 Millvale, PA @ Mr. Smalls Theatre
10.10 Buffalo, NY @ Tralf Music Hall
10.11 Montreal, QC @ Les Saints
10.12 Toronto, ON @ Phoenix
10.27 Copenhagen, DK @ Loppen
11.01 Aarhus, DK @ Voxhall
11.03 Paris, FR @ L'Alhambra
11.04 Brugge, BE @ Cactus
11.05 Norwich, UK @ Norwich Waterfront
11.06 Manchester, UK @ Manchester Academy
11.07 Dublin, IE @ Dublin Academy
11.09 Glasgow, UK @ Oran Mor
11.10 Wolverhampton, UK @ Wolverhampton Wulfrun
11.11 London, UK @ Shepard's Bush Empire
11.12 Brighton, UK @ Brighton Concorde 2
11.14 Amsterdam, NL @ Melkweg
11.15 Hamburg, DE @ Knust
11.17 Berlin, DE @ Postbahnhof
11.18 Munich, DE @ Registratur
11.19 Milano, IT @ Musicdrome
11.20 Roma, IT @ Circolo Degli Artisti
11.21 Bologna, IT @ Estragon
11.22 Vienna, AT @ Blue Bird Festival @ Porgy & Bess