Black Sheep Boy
Two talented guys, Will Sheff and Jonathan Meiburg, meet in Austin when Meiburg joins Sheff’s band, OKKERVIL RIVER. To display Meiburg’s songwriting talents, they form a second group, Shearwater. Now both top the list of the city’s best young bands. But while Shearwater, with Meiburg’s crystalline vocals, sounds dynamic and elegiac, Okkervil, with Sheff at the helm, is itchy with anxiety. Okkervil’s fourth full-length album, BLACK SHEEP BOY (Jagjaguwar), opens with the Tim Hardin tune of the same name and doesn’t exactly brighten up from there. Sheff’s songs resonate with anger, betrayal, and hints of violence. But because of his unique, fragile howl, the overall mood is one of sadness. Not in a whiny Smiths-like way but with a beautifully arranged edgy and haunting melancholy (à la Bright Eyes or Australia’s Go-Betweens) that keeps you enthralled.