» LATEST FEATURES

LITERATURE

 » Full Dark, No Stars - Stephen King's new novella questions mankind's ability to trust others.
[02.21.2011 by Bridget Doyle]

MUSIC

 » The Top 30 Albums of 2010 - Fashionably, fabulously late, our favorite music (and believe me, there was a LOT) of 2010, the year that some have called the best year for music ever. And only some of those fools work here. Plenty of usual suspects, lots of ties and a few surprises that I won't spoil, including our unexpected #1.
[12.24.2010 by The LAS Staff]

MUSIC

 » Live: Surfer Blood/The Drums at Lincoln Hall, Chicago, IL - Remember when Weezer used to put together records that you could sing along to and rock out to? That's what Surfer Blood's show was like!
[11.04.2010 by Cory Tendering]

Music Reviews

Screaming Females - Castle Talk
»Screaming Females
Castle Talk
Don Giovanni
Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross - The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
»Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross
The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
The Null Corporation
Deerhunter - Halcyon Digest
»Deerhunter
Halcyon Digest
4AD
No Age - Everything in Between
»No Age
Everything in Between
Sub Pop
Robyn - Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
»Robyn
Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
Konichiwa
The Walkmen - Lisbon
»The Walkmen
Lisbon
Fat Possum
Okkervil River
Down the River of Broken Dreams
Jagjaguwar Records

Rating: NR/10 ?


October 1, 2004
Beginning with echoes of a player piano in the back of a family style saloon, we raise our bottles of Sarsaparilla to Will Sheff and the newest release from Okkervil River. Down the River of Golden Dreams follows in the deeply rooted traditionalism of his previous albums, but takes great leaps and bounds from where he last left off to what is assuredly his best work to date.

Immediately reminiscent of Bright Eyes circa Letting Off the Happiness, Sheff's music is decidedly less whiny and more literate. As if that prospect weren't appealing enough, he takes great care to doff his cap to Will Oldham whenever possible, and seems to have a key to the back door of Neutral Milk Hotel's surreal atmospheres.

One instantly impressive characteristic of Sheff's style is that he can create a controlled explosion. As first heard in "It Ends with a Fall", he can have a meltdown, filled with raised voice and heightened emotion, but still keep it tightly reigned and melodic. As a complement to this, on tracks like "The War Criminal Rises and Speaks", he has mastered the slow burning crescendo that rewards his listeners for their patience. Indeed, as he creeps from the bottom of the ocean to the expanse of the heavens, those who have stuck with him through the journey will share in his release. This is not an album for the impatient; it is a mature and deliberate venture.

There are many touchstones on Down the River of Broken Dreams, as each song finds differing merit. "For the Enemy" is warm and slow like Low's bedroom recordings, livened by the inclusion of a chipper organ. "Blanket and Crib" is an upbeat yet broken country ballad in three-four time, encompassing the height of his passion. Instances of Billy Bragg and early Kind of Like Spitting are close at hand, rustic and lo-fi with great proficiency. While "Song about a Star" and "Seas Too Far to Reach" are the easiest tracks, conforming most closely to predictable pop sensibilities, they have a beautiful intensity that truly makes them special. The songs, while definitely understated, embody great fullness within their layers of strings and intelligence.

As an antithesis to the short attention span and overproduced tendencies of current chart toppers, Down the River of Broken Dreams is a heartfelt nod to those who take the time to savor music's earthy, honorable foundations.

Reviewed by Sarah Peters
A former music editor and staff writer for LAS, Sarah Peters recently disappeared. Perhaps one day she will surface again, who knows.

See other reviews by Sarah Peters

» MEDIA DOWNLOADS

» GOT STICKERS?

If you'd like to help spread the word about LAS, or simply want to outfit yourself with some adhesive coolness, our 4" circle LAS stickers are sure to hit the spot, and here is how to get them:

--> Send an with $2 in PayPal funds to cover postage. Don't worry, we'll load you up with enough to cover your town. Then just be patient. They will arrive soon.

» WORLDWIDE DOMINATION

LAS has staff and freelance writers spread across North and South America, Europe, and a few in Southeast Asia as well. As such, we have no central mailing adress for unsolicited promotional material. If you are interested in having your project considered for coverage, please contact us before sending any promotional materials - save yourself time and postage!