Okkervil River
The Stage Names

Reviewed by: Justin Cober-Lake
Reviewed on: 2007-08-06

Posted 08/06/2007 - 10:02:40 AM by StylusComments:
 This review is not very revealing or interesting. First sentence of the 4th paragraph is a disaster. Is the editor on vacation? If you think that the band sat around and said, "Hey gang let's record an indie rock album" you're insane with mid-level-music-review-site-power. How can you write that it DOESN'T sound like people needing to create something without laughing menancingly or becoming so disgusted with yourself that you vomit all over your keyboard? If you're familiar with the arduous and long process of what it actually takes to write and record and put out an album you'd know that glib instincts like "let's make an indie rock album" don't create the spark or carry you through the album. It doesn't get made unless the people making it really need and want to make it.
Posted 08/06/2007 - 08:45:54 PM by yarn24:
 Although I do agree that a B is fair for this album, StylusComments is right-this has to be the worst review-in terms of writing style, grammar, etc.-I've ever read at Stylus.com. Really, that 4th paragraph opening sentence made me cringe for about 30 seconds. So, in summation, I'm happy to see that Stylus didn't just give this an A because it's Okkervil River (or give them a D just to show they don't always praise critically-loved indie bands), but they need to fire this reviewer immediately because they will lose any credibility they have as a music publication if they continue to let him write reviews.
Posted 08/07/2007 - 10:34:24 AM by Tyl3r3:
 Normally, it wouldn't even cross my mind to go through the process of signing up for a user account just to throw in my two cents for a review, but I had to say something about this one...it's bad. I mean real bad. It's hard to follow and manages to rattle off one meaningless sentence after another without really coming to any conclusion or larger meaning. Very awkward to read. Odd choice of words in some cases and the repetition of some of the comments is odd. Anyway, I think this dude was drunk and the editor may have fallen asleep at the wheel. This record deserves a re-write.
Posted 08/09/2007 - 12:10:33 PM by hunky_dory:
 I fail to see how being 'professional' or 'too good' is a detriment. Typical indie knee-jerk to a lionized band growing up. Maybe Justin-Cober Lake has gotten too good. This review sounds like a once-ramshackle indie reviewer trying to write an indie-rock-record review. There's a little explanation, a little insight, but maybe it just *matters* less now.
Posted 08/09/2007 - 12:19:16 PM by OrvilleM:
 Yikes. Gotta agree with the other comments here. This review is a complete mess, and I'm not referring to the grade given to the album at all. It's painfully clear that Justin Cober-Lake cannot write. At all. Listen to this sentence: "It's all very professional, but no more meaningful than the titular appellations, the simile of a persona." Dang! Did you scribble that one in senior-high AP English? "Titular appellations"? Please, no one just rattles that off without first hearing the word "appellations" used, and then thinking "I've got to fit that word in my next review!" Let's go through some of the new words Justin learned lately...1) "logorrhea", 2) the aforementioned "appellations", and the stunner 3) "intertextuality". I'm blown away by this guy's intellextuality. Yeah, I just made that one up. Gotta keep things fresh. And what about "poetic prose"? You do realize that is essentially an oxymoron, right? Or did you use that contradiction as another attempt to be deep or challenging? Give me a break, and save us all the headache of reading this jejune heap of trash (I can use a thesaurus, too!). And no, that opening line of the 4th paragraph doesn't even qualify as a sentence - it's just a series of phrases connected with commas, "poetic prose", if you will. People just don't bust out articles like this on a whim - this is clearly a premeditated attempt to be awesome, and it fails on every level. I would have garnered the same amount of information from a review that said "I give this album a B rating. The end." Maybe that's the format you should stick to from now on.
Posted 08/09/2007 - 12:27:56 PM by OrvilleM:
 How could I forget? "titular appellations" is an unnecessary redundancy (sort of like saying ATM machine or PIN number, only all gussied-up to appear intellectual). Of course, this whole review is an unnecessary redundancy of one idea, one sentence. So I'm sure this isn't news to Justin.
Posted 08/09/2007 - 04:59:10 PM by grandbanks:
 Lets calm ourselves, shall we. If you are going to get so upset at the snarkiness of this site (big generality, but this has been a theme lately), try staying above the fray a little. This is one review by this writer, not a body of work. You sure get upset when people tear apart a record you like, so get over this. I am sure there are reviews of this record you will find more appealing elsewhere, stop pissing in public (unless you are going to get more in depth than this). Orville, that does not equal "exhaustive." Look, you guys obviously have a stake in this, and I applaud it, but your comments are just blown a little out of proportion. None of these writers are getting paid, stop clamoring for firings and reclamations of credibility.
Posted 08/09/2007 - 08:10:38 PM by OrvilleM:
 Exhaustive? Where did that come from? I was saying that "appellations" = name or title = "titular". By the way, you might want to re-read these comments, most people agree with the grade given to this album - that's not my gripe at all. It is the horrible *way* in which the review was written that has received criticism, and yes, I think it merits it. No one said Stylus cannot be snarky, I think there's just a general opinion that this is a terribly written review, no matter the final grade. Frankly, I could care less about the album...but it's awfully difficult not to comment on a "professional" review that sounds like it was written by a thesaurus wielding high-schooler.
Posted 08/09/2007 - 11:57:29 PM by Zebcoz:
 Good Christ, Orville. This IS a bad review, but "titular appellations" is NOT redundant as used in it. Your shoddy critique just makes me want to defend the damn review, when I didn't even like it.
Posted 08/10/2007 - 12:48:26 PM by OrvilleM:
 Well, I see what you mean. The sentence interpreted as "...but no more meaningful than the [title's names], the simile of a persona." makes sense - but I still find it redundant. You could easily replace "titular appellations" with "album's title" and you wouldn't sound like you were trying really hard to use a "big word" you just picked up. A quick scan of some of this guy's other reviews reveals that he doesn't always write like this, but nor has he had some of the higher profile albums handed to him to review. He gets handed a (decently) big album to review, and it's as if he decides that he's got to really give it some unique stylistic flair. But it's obvious he's just trying way too hard, like the "deep" analysis of the "interpolation of Sloop John B." (or pretty much every other sentence in this thing) and he ends up making this an embarassment. I'm not calling for his job - just saying that unlike his assessment that Okkervil River has "gotten too good", his writing certainly has not.
Posted 08/10/2007 - 02:33:27 PM by grandbanks:
 Maybe I should have said "exhausting." I read the comments perfectly well, I think.
Posted 08/14/2007 - 08:29:28 AM by OrvilleM:
 Well, obviously you didn't, because you figured most were upset about the album's rating, which really wasn't anyone's gripe at all. I don't think anyone was complaining about "snarkiness" - I don't think this review even deserves to be considered snarky. Exhaustive, exhausting, what the heck are you talking about?
Posted 08/14/2007 - 11:30:02 AM by baconfat:
 Orville, exactly *how* much less could you care about this record? Because you seem to be awfully wound up about this review. Like to the degree that you might need your blood pressure checked.
Posted 08/14/2007 - 02:05:02 PM by OrvilleM:
 No matter how people want to portray this, this most certainly is not about some allegiance to Okkervil River. I've only heard clips of this album, and do not own any of their previous work, whether anyone believes me or not. It really is about the principle of the matter. It could have been given an "F" or an "A", and it wouldn't matter to me. I had fun piling on this review after others already made the point about it being poorly written. Ooops. The only reason I keep coming back to comment is because others have addressed my comments. And you are partially correct, baconfat, or should I say Justin, that I was "wound up" about the review - not the album or it's rating. I still think it is quite possibly the worst review ever written, based on content. Others can bash or praise all they want, but at least they offer solid reasoning for their opinions. You can read any sort of tone or blood pressure status into my writing, but it's only written to be sarcastic or "snarky" (since that's the buzz word now). You're way off, but thanks for your concern.
Posted 08/15/2007 - 07:34:42 AM by terrorist:
 logorrhea? diarrhea more like
Posted 08/16/2007 - 05:23:21 PM by timtheavenger:
 Why exactly do people think this album is worse than Black Sheep Boy? I've been listening for two days now and I am incredibly impressed. Have any of you tried writing a metered, rhymed poem lately? That stuff isn't easy. Scheff's skill is apparent throughout just about every song on this album. I was listening to A Girl in Port today... I would be proud to write anything so wonderfully lyrical, and I have been studying form poetry for a few years now. If this record was just Scheff talking, I'd still buy it.
Posted 08/21/2007 - 07:00:41 AM by richardob:
 Regardless of what you may like to say about the rest of the review, 'titular appellations' isn't the tautology you suggest it is. You're implying that both words signify exactly the same concept, as in the common example 'unmarried bachelor'. But a title is not the same as an appellation here - the album's title is 'The Stage Names'. So Cober-Lake is referring to the names (appellations) described WITHIN the title - not the same thing as 'the album's title' as you suggested before. If the album had been called 'The Stage Lights', say, and Cober-Lake had written 'the titular illuminations', you might still jump on his big word but you'd see that all he's doing is paraphrasing the original noun. This is what 'the titular appellations' refers to - the nouns, here appellations, that the title includes. Which is stylistically sound, even if the other things you discuss are not.
Posted 08/23/2007 - 02:31:41 PM by Zebcoz:
 Hey Dick, I already said that, more concisely.
Posted 08/27/2007 - 08:05:56 AM by richardob:
 Aren't we on the same side here? I just added to your comment, since OrvilleM didn't really appear to have understood why it wasn't redundant. No need for the sniping.
Posted 08/27/2007 - 10:05:36 PM by asdfgh:
 jesus christ, you people with your arguing. you're getting distracted; let's just relish in how bad this review is. though, the b grade is good.
Posted 08/28/2007 - 12:15:24 PM by Zebcoz:
 @richardob: Yeah, true enough. I think posting on Stylus has some inherent power to transform one's kind, gentle soul into snippiness.