The next album from the Austin, Texas, band Okkervil River will tell the childhood tale of its lead singer and songwriter Will Sheff, a self-described awkward, nearsighted, asthmatic kid growing up the small town of Meriden, N.H. The music on The Silver Gymnasium, out on Sept. 3, is some of Okkervil River's best, and you can hear it all beginning Aug. 26 as part of our First Listen program. For now, here's a first taste: the premiere of the song "Down Down the Deep River."
Another beautiful treasure this album has to offer is its artwork: Will Sheff collaborated with his dear friend William Schaff (yes, those names are a little confusing, but pretty funny, too) on a giant map of this tiny New Hampshire town. William Schaff has done most of Okkervil River's cover art; for The Silver Gymnasium, he hung around while the band was rehearsing. About 10 days later, he sent Will Sheff a beautiful fold-out map of Meriden. Will Sheff sent us the map of his hometown along with photos from his childhood and a recording of his memories. Now you can explore Meriden and hear Sheff tell stories from his childhood that inspired the album.