The next time you go to see live jazz in a club, and the band is playing original compositions, look closely in front of the musicians. Sometimes there'll be stands holding sheet music. There's nothing wrong with this per se, especially if the music is a bit complicated. But sometimes there'll be no need for stands, as the musicians have memorized the material. It's impressive, but it also signals a certain commitment, one borne of having rehearsed and performed together often. You frequently see this in tight bands that know what they're doing.
At first blush, Okkervil River is obviously a good rock 'n' roll band, but listen closely — especially to its lyrics — and you'll hear a great rock 'n' roll band. The group has been making sharp, thoughtful music since the late '90s, with the first of its seven albums coming out a dozen years ago.
The album cover of Roosevelt Sykes' 1961 release 'The Honeydripper.'
If you think the Blues world consists of tortured men and women crying their hearts out over lost loves and wasted lives, you need to check out Roosevelt Sykes. He was a cigar chomping, rollicking mountain of good natured, good timing, fun loving entertainment. And he often needed a parental warning.