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Friday, December 19, 2014 |  Madison, WI: 25.0° F  Overcast
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Okkervil River
The Stand-Ins (Jagjaguwar)

This week's edition of the Bin is proof positive that current and former Madison musicians are making an impact on the national music scene. Travis Nelson is the drummer of Okkervil River. In the '90s, he kept time for Madison's Coolhand Band.

This Austin band provides a lesson in how 21st century indie-rock musicians dissect the pop riff. They slow it down, make it mellow, and repeat it using different instrumentation. That's clear from the start of The Stand-Ins, where the choral melody is re-painted in hues of piano, strings and voice.

But Okkervil River's skill set doesn't end there. The wide-ranging voice of Will Sheff can cast sonic emotions wide and deep. And his lyrics are anything but throwaway.

Again and again, Sheff invents or references troubled but likable characters. The album ends with a track about Bruce Wayne Campbell, a gay glam-rock artist who died of AIDS in 1983.

The Stand-Ins is a must-have record that makes it easy to see why Okkervil River has emerged to the head of the indie rock class.

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