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Thursday, July 24, 2014 |  Madison, WI: 54.0° F  A Few Clouds


Okkervil River
he Stage Names (Jagjaguwar)

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Brainy young music fans keep returning to country/folk-rock as their barometer for musical authenticity. The '60s had Gram Parsons. Uncle Tupelo sparked the No Depression movement of the early '90s. Now Okkervil River joins a batch of indie artists like M. Ward who are making roots rock their way - dreamy and poetic.

The Austin band's fourth album wreaks havoc on a Shakespearean motif. All the world's not a stage. "It's just a life story, so there's no climax," sings lead vocalist Will Sheff on "Our Life Is Not a Movie or Maybe." "No more new territory, so pull away the IMAX."

The Stage Names stands out for its creative surprises, like the catchy rhythm 'n' blues beat of the album's best song, "A Hand to Take Hold of the Scene."

Bonus points: OR has a Madison connection. Drummer Travis Nelson used to live here and was a player in various local bands.

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