The new Okkervil River album is called Away. I didn’t plan to make it and initially wasn’t sure if it was going to be an Okkervil River album or if I’d ever put it out. I wrote the songs during a confusing time of transition in my personal and professional life and recorded them quickly with a brand new group of musicians. I got together the best New York …
New Music from Me
Over at the Okkervil River online store, you can order a hand-made letterpress version of the above image, which is my interpretation of William Schaff’s cover art for Black Sheep Boy. Also on the online store we have a downloadable album entitled Black Sheep Boy: Early Drafts on the Road, 2004. This is what it sounds like – the very earliest recorded versions of Black Sheep Boy songs, done in green rooms and guest bedrooms and on people’s front lawns, and interspersed with audio diaries where I discuss the songs and discuss what was happening on tour at the time.
Over at the Okkervil River website there’s a video for the first song from the new Okkervil album The Silver Gymnasium. I went down and filmed the video last week at the Plainfield Town Hall, where a hand-painted backdrop by Maxfield Parrish has sat for decades. The backdrop was created so that it could be lit to simulate different times of day, and in the video Nancy Norwalk – Plainfield’s Head Librarian and one of leaders of a 1990 restoration of the backdrop – takes us through the different lighting schemes, from dawn to nightfall.
Today I’m putting out a video for another one of the Lovestreams songs. The song is called “There’s Video.” This is a shorter edit of it – maybe at some point in the future I’ll put out the longer version. I did this video with my close friend Scott Coffey, the actor and director. Scott was in a bunch of films including several John Hughes movies and several more David Lynch movies before graduating to directing with Ellie Parker in 2004. He shot this video on an early-generation DV camera, the same camera he’d used for Ellie Parker, and it was already outdated then – with this weird early-digital video quality to the picture that manufacturers have since gotten away from, have improved on. Almost all of the effects are in-camera.
In the early part of last year I started renting a room down in a basement a couple neighborhoods over from my apartment in Brooklyn and I started going in and working every day of the week there, just shutting the door and writing until evening. I decided to do a project there I’d wanted to do for years and years, which is to make an album by myself and for myself, an album that doesn’t owe anything to music I made before.
Last year I spent most of my time in this basement room I started renting by the East River. Made an album, kind of just for myself. I played everything myself pretty much. It was sort of something I had to get off my chest.
A life lifted off a news page. A pictorial of you alone in your room, fighting off suicide furiously, with the Astronettes bootleg and a bent-back spoon. A bus tour through drab poverty. I came over and you offered me the guest room. A lie for a single pageview, courtesy of the assailant-who-loves-you. Advice for the heartsick clergyman. The snake in the grass and the ghost at the feast, the jack of all asses and the last of the least are all flown, first-class, to the team retreat. The inventor of anger. The perfector of being distracted when someone is talking to you, but just slightly – super slightly. She said, “I don’t care who you are and don’t care what you were – you can’t look away from the Shock Corridor.”