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The Stage Names

The Stage Names

7 Aug 2007
4.7 out of 5 stars 10 customer reviews
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Song Title Time Popularity
1 4:24
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2 4:38
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3 3:59
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4 3:38
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5 3:43
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6 6:36
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7 4:53
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8 5:22
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9 4:33
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Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

By EA Solinas HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWER on 11 Aug. 2007
Format: Audio CD
Some bands recycle their sound from album to album, until they implode into a creative vacuum.

And some bands refine, rework and polish their talent, turning out increasingly brilliant, full-blown music. Fortunately Okkervil River fits into the second category, amping up the sound of their previous opus "Black Sheep Boy" and giving it a rollicking, lovable rock sound... without losing the freakfolk/alt-country edge.

It opens with a tight little riff, and Will Sheff moaning, "It's just a bad movie, where there's no crying... It's just a life story, so there's no climax/No more new territory, so pull away the IMAX." It unfolds into a blazing, thumping, piano-riddled rock song that sweeps the listener in its wake, just before letting you drop into quiet interludes.

So what's it about? Basically, about a person who sees their life as a movie, but is being told that it isn't all about them: "No fade in: film begins on a kid in the big city/And no cut to a costly parade -- that's for him only!/No dissolve to a sliver of grey -- that's his new lady!".

It's a strong start, and it's a good springboard to what comes next: sizzling rockers, bouncy indiepop flavoured with horns, plinky piano and "doo-doo!" vocals, smooth twinkling ballads, and rollicking alt-country. It doesn't sound that cohesive, but the songs do mesh well -- they all have a wistful, expansive quality that seems to spill over their edges.

Lots of people encountered Okkervil River by their 2005 album "Black Sheep Boy," but "The Stage Names" just evolves and expands the same kind of music. It's a bit less angular, a little more introspective, and a lot catchier -- it hasn't gotten any less poignant, but the melodies are rollicking fun.
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Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
What makes 'The Stage Names', Okkervil River's fourth studio album such a fantastic listen is their approach - they have an organic, honest integrity, rather like Arcade Fire, and let the power of the music and strength of the lyrics speak for itself. The sound coming out of the speakers is almost like you're in the studio with them, listening to the instruments first hand and such a pure, unaltered, alive sound insprires, excites and connects. There is no indie miserablism here - even a song such as 'Savannah Smiles', which is a concerned father's narrative about his daughter, manages to be a delicate and sensitive song relaying feeling of self-doubt and guilt without being self-indulgent or over-sentimental.

This album contains some really fantastic music - lots of big tunes, upbeat melodies and also introspective, pensive moments of contemplation. It actually baffles me how a group such as U2 or Coldplay can command such attention when there are bands such as Okkervil River out there making music without pretention, without spin, without the thought of 'how will this sound in a football stadium'? In a world of music where marketing and production is king, The Stage Names, along with much alternative music which really deserves to be the mainstream, is a breath of fresh air. I love it.

As with Black Sheep Boy, their previous studio album, Okkervil River intend to release an appendix to The Stage Names which include songs recorded during the same sessions and which weren't deemed suitable for the album. Black Sheep Boy's appendix was absolutely superb, containing some songs which were perhaps even stronger than those on the original release, so that should be well worth looking out for.
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Format: Audio CD
Yep - this band have matured perfectly, this time like a nurtured Pinot Noir.

If you are one of those people that always thought OR were a band of 'almost but not quite', then let me assure you 'quite' has most definitely arrived. In abundance.

This is a very accomplished album indeed. Cleverly crafted, musically layered & complex, and wonderfully written (as always) and performed. The result is a rich exciting, and thoroughly enjoyable experience from start to finish - no fillers to be found here. And let me not forget great beauty too (Girl in Port).

This is (and no doubt will be) considered OR's best album. And rightfully so.

Long long long may this highly underrated band continue in this vein. As this has left me hungry for more. Much more.

"Let fall your soft and swaying skirt /
let fall your shoes /
let fall your shirt /
I'm not the ladykilling sort /
enough to hurt a girl in port"

Wonderful stuff and highly, HIGHLY recommended for the music enthusiast.
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By Tommy Dooley TOP 100 REVIEWER on 22 Mar. 2011
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
This is one of my all time favourite albums and so I felt I had to write a review. Will Sheff and co not only leads, writes the songs but does the art too and the cover from this actually matches `The Stand Ins'.
Where to begin, this was the first album in a long while that I felt did not have a single bad track on it, although they are all stand out tracks, my least fave is `Savannah Smiles' but it is still miles better than most contemporary work.

The rest of the album is genius from start to finish, from the rocky up beat `Unless it's kicks' to the ballad beauty of live favourite -`Girl in Port'. All of the songs tell a tale that is beautifully constructed and often with poetic imagery that belies the youth of Mr Sheff. The music is excellent with every track having its own identity and yet a cohesive binding giving this album a clear personality. A strength mentioned elsewhere that while Sheff and Co always keep one foot placed firmly in Americana, they seem to stamp an identity on everything they do.

If I had to take only two records to live on a desert island this would be one of them, but I am still working on number two, but you would not go far wrong with another Okkervil classic - `Down the river of golden dreams'.
Down the River of Golden Dreams
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