Those already on the Okkervil bandwagon will surely eat this up. But for the uninitiated, be warned: the appendix will only mean something if it has the rest of its body.
Earlier this year, the stark intellectualism of Okkervil River's "Black Sheep Boy" caught the ear of many critics. Those who follow the Austin folk-rockers typically cite singer-guitarist Will Sheff's lyrics (well, songwriting in general) as the hallmark of this group. Indeed, his morose voice, coupled with his very cryptic word play, is creepy at times and heart-wrenching at others, but always thought provoking.
The EP "Black Sheep Boy Appendix" is a logical extension of where the full length left off. Starting off with a haunting string section, "Missing Children" is a beautiful, albeit scary little number about kids getting lost and something chasing them. But then comes the country-rock "No Key, No Plan," which should get toes tapping and minds distracted from the macabre.
"Black Sheep Boy #4" features Sheff's additional musings on the sadness of the troubled outcast we heard about earlier this year and "Last Love Song for Now" returns to the young subjects of the opening track. But this time, things seem a little more optimistic for the kids, or at least the music would make you think so. A nice little horn section attempts to drown out lines like "They're trying to decide if they should leave the things that keep them crying."
Those already on the Okkervil bandwagon will surely eat this up. But for the uninitiated, be warned: the appendix will only mean something if it has the rest of its body. - Michael D. Ayers