Okkervil River's music is most often pegged as alt-country. That tag isn't wrong, but it feels maddeningly inadequate when you consider the breadth of the band's last few releases.
Since 2005's critically acclaimed Black Sheep Boy, the Austin group has made its trade in grand, quasi-concept albums whose dense lyrics and sprawling arrangements demand multiple listens. The country instrumentation is there: acoustic guitars, banjos, mandolins, muted horns and more. But frontman Will Sheff has been broadening his reach as a songwriter with each new set of material, embracing shout-along power-pop one moment and intimate folk the next.
After playing backing band to psych-rocker Roky Erickson on last year's True Love Cast Out All Evil, Okkervil River is set to release its first proper album since 2008. I Am Very Far won't be released until May 10. But the band gave a sneak preview of the new music in a performance of the entire record live from KUT's Cactus Cafe in Austin, Texas.
KUT, XI Media, NPR; photo by Jeff Heimsath/Courtesy of KUT