Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Troika Preview: Okkervil, Elvis, and DKD

OK, after considerable throat-clearing, it's time for me to actually write something about next week's Troika Music Festival, held at various Durham sites on Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. (Full schedule here.) But, boy, is it daunting. So much good music in such a short time -- lots of bands that I know and am fond of, quite a few that I've been meaning to pay more attention to, some that are brand new to me. If I had nothing to do for the next week, maybe I'd try to pull off a See You In The Pit-like look at every damn band...but that's not happening. Let's try a little show-by-show breakdown and see how far I can get.

I guess the Wednesday (10/18) show at the Duke Coffeehouse is the "headline" show of the night. (Though I'll be going to the other one...) It has the out-of-town guests of the night, anyway: Okkervil River and Elvis Perkins are joined by David Karsten Daniels, a member of the local Bu Hanan collective.

Daniels and his compatriots in the Physics of Meaning and the Prayers and Tears of Arthur Digby Sellers have made some fascinating music over the last couple of years (as well as the late Go Machine), so hopefully the release of his new album, Sharp Teeth, on Fat Cat Records next year doesn't result in any distance from that group. According to Daniels, the record features "a lot of singers, a lot of drummers, a lot of horn players, and a deep love of dynamics and repetition," though the two samples streaming at his MySpace don't sound quite that expansive. They seem to be a continuation the sparse, acoustic sound of his earlier work. In my previous post about Daniels, I made a vague Iron & Wine comparison, and although I admit it may have partly been the beard, the hushed vocals of a song like "Jesus and the Devil" had something to do with it as well. Since those aren't downloads, here's an older song that isn't all that far removed from them.
"Siamese Hearts"
(from Angles 2004. Buy it here.)

Although the three artists on the bill make a nicely complementary group, the evening does get louder as it goes on. Elvis Perkins is perhaps a more conventional singer-songwriter than DKD, his sonic world a little more forgiving and a little less harsh, but there is a certain bleakness that they share, for instance on Perkins' "Ash Wednesday", the standout track of the ones I've listened to in preparing this post.
"Ash Wednesday"
(I guess no album to buy? Download more here)

And then the much-blogged Okkervil River, who can be acoustic and folky at times, but also can rock out a little bit (albeit in a rootsy, folky way). Again, though, there's a thread of sadness (approaching desolation) that runs through the songs (at least on Black Sheep Boy, the only album of theirs that I've spent much time with). I just came across a new single while pulling links for this post, so let's point to that as well: "The President's Dead" is actually kind of peppy (hmm), starting as a folk song and bursting into a few seconds of pop towards the end. I like the way the verses just keep coming and coming, riding the rise and fall of the melody without pause.
"For Real"
(from Black Sheep Boy 2005. Buy/download)
"The President's Dead"
(from The President's Dead single 2006. Buy)

So, this all starts at 9:30 on Thursday. Good music, if not exactly uplifting. Bring your own beer to cry into.


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