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Okkervil River

Despite being founded by three mischievous childhood friends from New Hampshire who found each other again in Austin, Texas, Okkervil River's music often sounds like the work of a band of world-weary, slightly deranged old men. The oddly named quartet (Okkervil River is a real river outside St. Petersburg which the band learned about in a story by Tatyana Tolstaya, the talented great-grandniece of Leo Tolstoy) drifts through melancholy numbers ranging in style from stark neo-country to woozy baroque pop. Despite the consistently downcast, lonesome mood, Okkervil River's rich, varied folk instrumentation, often featuring mandolin, banjo, accordion, organs, and occasional strings and horns atop the standard drums/bass/guitar set up, keeps the music from ever getting monochromatic. Contemporary indie rock appropriators of old folk styles like Neutral Milk Hotel, Sparklehorse, and Will Oldham provide good reference points for Okkervil River's stark, chiaroscuro songs of loss and regret. The group recorded its debut, Stars Too Small To Use, in 2000. Some lineup changes ensued, before a retooled Okkervil River released its solid follow-up, Don't Fall in Love with Everyone You See, early in 2002.