I really like the new Okkervil River album, The Silver Gymnasium. I said as much in the most recent review section of Prairie Dog. That said, they could’ve just covered Keith Moon’s Two Sides of the Moon and I still would’ve bought the record. I’m a big fan.
Having pre-ordered the album, I’m lucky on a couple of fronts: first, that the record is so good; second, that packaging is so great. Longtime Okkervil cover artist Will Schaff came up with some beautiful work to evoke the town singer Will Sheff is singing about on this album. If you’re going to do a double-LP album, this is a good way to do it.
The regular vinyl version of their last album, I Am Very Far, was more of a two-LP “fuck you”. Sure, they had a $100 special edition on sale the minute the record was announced that was probably nice, but I was flat broke then. (Or relative to now, at least.) What did I get for buying the regular edition of Very Far? Two LPs in a slightly larger sleeve with the CD booklet dropped in there in case I wanted to read the lyrics. That’s some bullshit. You think your band’s worth a double-LP album? Then your double-LP album is worth putting some effort into. And that normally means a gatefold, or production notes and/or lyrics that are at least blown up to be record sized.