So, remember that hideous thing that Conor Oberst tried to get us with a few years back, what was that even called? "The President Thinks Aloud" or something? Utterly awful.
But there was something about The Decemberists' "Sixteen Military Wives" last year -- it was the only truly coherent and memorable track on Picaresque, if for nothing else but its clever metaphors and delicate skewering of ... well, everyone who thinks they have something valid to say about politics. It was vaguely satisfying to have a pseudo-protest song that wasn't preachy and kind of snarky and had that gosh-darn twee Wes Anderson-esque video. Unfortunately, it was completely without any closure, so that was problematic. But it seemed to get some people thinking, maybe?
More people than say, Green Day's American Idiot did. For a time, it seemed like that album was perfectly poised to cause some kind of response among the youth of America, but all those kids are listening to AFI now, Saint Jimmy forgotten. Oh well.
So, where does that leave us? Hopefully, in the loving embrace of one Will Robinson Sheff, frontman of Okkervil River. I was told by an associate of his that Will's new songs were so very good that they were surely poised to make him famous. From what I've heard, I think I agree. The funny thing is, this song didn't do anything for me when I heard it a few weeks ago at the Carousel. It kind of sank like a stone, but maybe it was because it was so bloody hot in there. Taken from the Australian-only tour EP (Okkervil's currently touring Australia and New Zealand as we speak -- be careful boys!), Overboard and Down, "The President's Dead," isn't a scary screed or an empty pipe dream, but a window into a life in past tense: yours, mine, Mr. Sheff's. And suddenly it all comes clear: Five years after the fact, we're far too insular for protest songs now.
Okkervil River -- The President's Dead
Okkervil River -- O, Dana (Big Star cover)
Bonus: Okkervil River -- It Ends With a Fall
Don't worry, the tracks off this tour-only EP will be available in the US on a set of different releases later this year, according to the Okkervil River message board.