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Apr 22, 2018







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Okkervil River, Away (ATO Records)




Loamlands, Sweet High Rise (Middle West Records)

North Carolina is a giant sloshing jar of nitroglycerine as I write this, shortly after the shooting of yet another black man by a police officer, this on top of the fallout from the “Bathroom Bill,” which, for all its incredibly shortsighted pandering, has netted nothing other than getting the entire state boycotted by everyone from Dow Chemical to Ringo Starr. These boycotts haven’t just hurt the redneck types; in June, the Washington Post ran an article covering the crushing financial blowback against businesses in Asheville, which was until then a Bernie-supporting, LGBT-friendly place that had climbed to the top of the hipster must-visit charts. Enter Raleigh’s Kym Register, ready to abandon her punk-folk approach for something that might actually give her some personal release by singing about old and new injustices. The first LP from Register’s Loamlands project does just that, her Kellie Pickler-like voice buoyed by general-issue Sheryl Crow fedora-hat blues-folk, its curveball being the lyrical subject matter, such as “Little River,” which examines the 1981 murder of two gay men at a Durham swimming hole, a last-straw event that launched the gay pride movement in the state. Not particularly original — just saying — but there’s literally nothing that could be more timely. A — Eric W. Saeger




Okkervil River, Away (ATO Records)
CD Reviews: October 6, 2016

10/06/16
By Eric Saeger news@hippopress.com



Okkervil River, Away (ATO Records)

Head north for what seems like forever and take a left at the giant nest of groundhogs and you’ll be in Meriden, N.H., home of the private boarding school Kimball Union Academy, the boyhood stomping grounds of this band’s leader, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and sole constant, Will Sheff, now of New York after finding Austin not quite annoyingly hip enough. This eighth album from the band is promoted as a sonic departure from previous efforts, which makes perfect sense being that it’s a whole new crew aside from Sheff. Last time out, in 2013’s The Silver Gymnasium, Sheff mixed together Ben Folds, Train, Ryan Adams and a stripped-down, indie version of Springsteen in a collection of decent but not terribly meaty tunes, Sheff’s Elvis Costello-like tenor finding good footing most of the time. Alternatively a mawkish and deeply cool mixed bag of highs and lows, this LP begins with the drippy acoustic guitar ballad “Okkervil River R.I.P.,” a mournful piece dedicated to a handful of people close to Sheff who’ve died recently, the tune itself coming off like Eels in Americana mode. “Call Yourself Renee” is a flash of genius, built around a slipstream melody and a super-nice chord progression; “The Industry” phones in some 1970s-radio asphalt; and “Judey on a Street” microwaves a Winston Giles arena-hipster groove.





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