No one wants to be forgotten; everyone wants some sort of legacy, a mark they leave behind as they exit this life for whatever lies beyond.
And for as long as there has been death, there have been monuments — whether austere or understated, abstract or concrete, prominent or tucked away in private — erected by the ones they loved to assure that remembrance, at least for a time.
Some of the best albums and artists were born out of happy accidents owed to varying degrees of early suckage — the perfect note or chord for a song found by missing the one you are aiming for, failed mimicry of an idol bearing something entirely new and great instead.
The Tequila Songbirds have become just as beloved as about any group around these parts. And how could they not?
Featuring a revolving cast of the Sooner State’s most badass female performers, it’s a power hour of some of the best songwriting coming out of central Oklahoma. Sure, they might not technically be family, but they are clearly a band of sisters all the same, bonded by the same brand of whiskey running through their veins.
"Overproduced" is a term thrown around all too indiscreetly nowadays, usually applied when the thing that sticks out about a song or album is how it sounds rather than how it is constructed. Yet some of the most compelling albums ever crafted embodied a certain aesthetic that was just as skillfully and meticulously put together as any Bob Dylan or Miles Davis record — which is to say production is as crucial to our enjoyment of music as much as anything else; it's also the most overlooked.
Indie rock has been in a good place as of late. Not caring about being cool is the new cool, and a couple of dudes on guitar, bass and drums can make catchy, earworm songs without being armed to the gills with computer software and vintage synthesizers.
Stardeath and White Dwarfs with Broncho and Chrome Pony 6:30 p.m. Friday East lawn, Oklahoma Memorial Union, University of Oklahoma, Norman ou.edu/uosa/cac.html free
It isn’t especially often that three of a city scene’s most exciting live bands wind up on a single bill. But that’s Friday’s free show on the University of Oklahoma campus, and the competition’s set for “fierce.”
For the blown-fuse vintage punkers of Broncho (right) ,that means sweating, riffing and mid-song crowd-surfing like never before. For electro rockers Chrome Pony, the synths will get bodies shaking en masse. And for psychedelic hillbillies Stardeath and White Dwarfs ... well, they’ll just have to freak out harder, better, faster and stronger. “I’ve always thought that was something special about Oklahoma — there aren’t a whole lot of places to play, so it creates a high level of competition to get those shows,” said Matt Duckworth, drummer for Stardeath and sometimes Chrome Pony. “If you don’t bring something new or different to the table, then somebody else is gonna get the show. It’s an interesting, competitive element that makes everybody better.”
Each band’s recent performance résumé is impressive. Stardeath played New York’s famous Bowery Ballroom to positive reviews. Chrome Pony (left) slammed an exclamation point on the end of Norman Music Festival 4, while Broncho ripped Tulsa’s Soundpony bar apart over the summer.
How do the guys all keep it friendly when everybody’s trying so hard to be the best? They agreed it’s a combination of collaboration and admiration.
Chrome Pony founder Steven Battles, who’s been helping with Stardeath’s sophomore LP, is kind of the king of Norman-area rock collaborations. He can rattle off the names of nine guitarists who’ve contributed to Chrome Pony, eventually stopping at Brine Web.
“Well, Brine — kind of. He just grabbed a guitar and got onstage at Norman Music Fest,” Battles said.
Added Broncho leader Ryan Lindsey, “He wasn’t plugged in at all.”
“We didn’t talk about it,” said Battles. “He just jumped up there.”
Stardeath front man Dennis Coyne said he’s always been jealous of Lindsey’s talents.
“We’ve had a few different guitar players, and every time a guy’s quit, we’ve courted him,” Coyne said. “He’s always been playing with another band, though, so it never quite worked out.”
Ask Lindsey what he’s taken from former roommate Battles’ onstage work and the flirting continues: “I’ve always admired Steven’s fearlessness to go over-the-top as Chrome Pony. That’s really encouraged me working with Broncho.”
Kidding aside, each group has pushed and pulled a lot into one another, whether in terms of conceptual influence or actual sonic contribution. They’ll be carrying that momentum into the near future, as each outfit has plans for more shows and releases.
Stardeath, which is signed to Warner Bros. Records, is about to start its last recording session at Norman’s Bell Labs Recording Studio. Battles is stretching outside his comfort zone on a gospel/ soul project with Broncho guitarist Ben King. And Broncho has a couple of tracks it intends to cobble together for a 7-inch release.