Reviewed by Darcie Stevens, Fri., Oct. 28, 2005
Black Sheep Boy Appendix (Jagjaguwar)
Will Sheff is branching out. Not that Austin's poet laureate ever boxed himself in, but on the new mini album companion to this year's superlative Black Sheep Boy, Sheff's Okkervil River takes a cue from Broken Social Scene, adding pump organ, harp, strings, horns, and handclaps to the guitar, bass, and drums that tradition dictates. The band now numbers 10, with another nine musicians contributing to this Appendix EP, which stands alongside some of Sheff's best work. Where his past is littered with tightly choreographed, staccato flusters ("For Real," "Black"), Appendix finds sweeping forays into folk. Warning opener "Missing Children" predicts 25 minutes of adolescence, before cynicism sets in, while "No Key, No Plan" accuses in a glorious tune of reckoning ("You've never earned your soul"). A spin-off of the LP's title track, "Black Sheep Boy #4" is a self-conscious, pedal-steel calm reaching into the anxious heartbeat of "Another Radio Song." Appendix rests with "Last Love Song for Now," an epic closer that brings the EP full circle, a joyous exclamation of life and love. "And some will rise and keep on living with open eyes, with minds forgiven." Ladies and gentlemen, the Rev. Will Sheff.