Get An Art History Lesson With Okkervil River’s ‘It Was My Season’

Don’t get too excited—while this may be the season we all associate with boogie boards and poolside margaritas, for Okkervil River’s Will Sheff, summer is the time for heated self-loathing and steamy despair. The first single, "It Was My Season," from the band’s next album, The Silver Gymnasium, has arrived, along with a charmingly simple video.

Sheff himself sets up the visual:

"In 1916 the painter Maxfield Parrish—part of a small-town New Hampshire art colony that included such famous writers and artists as August St. Gaudens and Emma Lazarus—designed and painted a stage set for a local play entitled “The Woodland Princess.” The set consisted of several layers and depicted a typical New England forest scene with a lake and distinctive rolling hills in the background, and it was designed so it could be lit to simulate the light of dawn, early morning, full afternoon sun, and dusk. Since then the set has remained in the Plainfield Town Hall at the center of Plainfield, New Hampshire, the town that encloses the little village of Meriden where I grew up.

Over the span of “It Was My Season,” we see the course of a fully artificial day—24 hours of changing light in five minutes. The subjectivity of time is clearly an ongoing theme for Sheff and company, as The Silver Gymnasium’s songs take place in 1986 New Hampshire. “We’re dumb, we’re dead / Shut up about it now,” go the typically merciless lyrics here. Here’s hoping this band doesn’t shut up for years to come."

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BlackBook Premiere: Lovestreams, ‘There’s Video’

It is a truth universally acknowledged that an indie rock frontman with significant cred must be in want of a side project. This is what gave us Lovestreams, a solo effort from Will Sheff, best known as the man behind the bracing, chilly folk of Okkervil River. But you won’t find any comforting twang in Lovestreams’s paranoid visions. Here’s an exclusive first look at the video for the aptly named “There’s Video.”

Soulless, icy, an homage to The X-Files—and that’s just the synthesizers. The sleazy digital footage looks to date back at least fifteen years, and is spliced together with weird in-camera effects. David Lynch’s Inland Empire would be a reference point, it’s safe to say.

But the track itself doesn’t stay a coldwave brooder for the duration: a few minutes in, it escalates to the fraught pitches Sheff tends to reach with Okkervil River. By the end, it’s nearly a gospel piece. Then, at last, you’re left alone on the beach with driftwood and garbage, just one more miserable thing that washed ashore.