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Okkervil River

Formed in 1998 in Austin, TX, Okkervil River find the middle ground between indie rock and folk-rock, placing slightly more emphasis on the former. Vocalist Will Robison Sheff and drummer Seth Warren first rubbed shoulders as high-school students in Meriden, NH, a town they eventually left to attend different colleges. The two reconvened several years later in Austin, where they put together Okkervil River with the help of bassist Zachary Thomas. The group recorded several EPs as a trio, including 2000's Stars Too Small to Use, before crossing paths with multi-instrumentalist Jonathan Meiburg at a local bar. Meiburg soon joined the band, and Okkervil River made their first big splash at the SXSW festival in March 2000.

Producer Brian Beattie caught the band's SXSW showcase and agreed to helm Okkervil River's debut album, Don't Fall in Love with Everyone You See. Warren relocated to California during the recording sessions and was replaced by drummer Mark Pedini; meanwhile, the band inked a record contract with Jagjaguwar, which released the completed Don't Fall in Love in January 2002. A second release, Down the River of Golden Dreams, followed one year later. Pedini had left the band by early 2003, however, thus leaving his former bandmates without a drummer as they prepared to return to SXSW. Travis Nelson climbed aboard as a temporary replacement and soon joined the permanent lineup, as did lap steel guitarist Howard Draper.

Already renowned in Texas, Okkervil River rose to national prominence with the release of 2005's Black Sheep Boy, followed several months later by the Black Sheep Boy Appendix EP. Both albums featured a wide crop of musicians, and the band's lineup continued to change as Scott Brackett joined on keyboards and Pat Pestorius replaced Zach Thomas on bass. Okkervil River's profile was likewise expanding, as Virgin Records reissued both Black Sheep Boy discs in Europe. Despite the international buzz, several bandmates found themselves torn between Okkervil River and Shearwater, a group originally founded in 2001 as a side project for Meiburg and Sheff. As the side project evolved into a full-fledged band, Meiburg quit Okkervil River to devote his full attention to Shearwater. Brian Cassidy was then hired, and the new lineup unveiled itself with 2007's Stage Names.

Stage Names climbed to number 62 on the Billboard charts, Okkervil River's highest peak to date. Three months after its release, pianist Justin Sherburn joined the band. Lineup changes continued into 2008, as Cassidy left and was replaced by the Wrens' Charlie Bissell, who toured throughout the summer before giving up his spot to guitarist Lauren Gurgiolo. With their newest lineup intact, Okkervil River returned that fall with the band's fifth album, The Stand Ins. TV performances and various tour dates followed, as did the opportunity to serve as Roky Erickson's backing band on True Love Cast Out All Evil. Okkervil River frontman Will Sheff produced the critically acclaimed album, a role he reprised on his own band's 2011 release, I Am Very Far. Sheff went Back to the Future on 2013's Silver Gymnasium, an 11-track ode to his hometown of Meridian, New Hampshire. ~ Andrew Leahey, Rovi
full bio

Selected Discography

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Track List: For Real (There's Nothing Quite Like The Blinding Light)

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Track List: A Forest (Single)

Comments

Tried to base a station on a live version of "Westfall". Bad station, but what a song.
sjkuncio
I have no good explanation for why this band isn't better known. Will Sheff may be the best songwriter working today
@ Wonder Ballroom in PDX tomorrow night!
Seeing them in San Fran in 1 week! So excited
lx.mcclellan
I think I saw this band open for Arcade Fire in Dallas. They were GREAT.
marthaknie
Their songs have such meaningful lyrics!
I knew Will Sheff briefly back in the early '90s as he was a childhood friend of my first boyfriend. I remember visiting him and his family in Meriden, NH. We even had a lovely jam session with his bandmates at the time. Will is awesome and extremely talented. Now, if I could only find the tape Will sent us of a song he wrote while at Macalester - I Know a Girl - I still get it stuck in my head after all these years!
Catch them live if you can, they're always a good time.

Love this band so much! The new album is fantastic. I have a customer that is moving to Austin this week and I am SO jealous. What an awesome town to be around all that great music all the time!
jane167
O wow! This is a beautiful song.
Something good is in that Austin water, or something...
This article is not entirely accurate. Brian Cassidy was hired in 2005 to replace Howard Draper. Jonathan Meiburg's exit in October of 2007 allowed Justin Sherburn to join the group. Brian Cassidy left in 2008 and was replaced by Lauren Gurgiolo which left the current lineup as: Will Sheff - vox, guitar; Patrick Pestorius - bass, back vox; Travis Nelsen - drums; Scott Brackett - organ, coronet, percussion; Justin Sherburn - keys, guitar; Lauren Gurgiolo - guitar, banjo, mandolin, violin.
These guys are so sweet love their sound. lovest Damion
such pleasant, handsome young men.
I love okkervil river for so many reasons. The biggest is that they are amazing,anot h e r would have to be the depth of the lyrics.
I love the Mountain Goats too!
People that like this band, which is fantastic in its own right, should check out a band called the Mountain Goats..
i'm glad they relocated to austin, tx.
the next four months is my new favorite song. amazing dudes.
'Depressing' is more like it.
He sounds so pissed off sometimes, I love it.

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