Three volumes in and A Blackwatch Christmasyet again nabs a spot on the nice list, showcasing a smattering of Oklahoma artists with charming new holiday standards. This year shakes up the status quo with two themed halves — serving up dusty, countrified Christmas ditties on the Holly-Tonk side and soulful hip-hop carols with Jingle Beats, both with joyful returns.
It has been a relatively rocky road for Weatherford alt-country outfit Green Corn Revival, which has seen its share of highs (acting as backing band for rockabilly icon Wanda Jackson) and lows before an (amicable) split in the road led half of the original lineup to forming Honeylark.
Oklahoma is quickly becoming the indie Christmas music capital of the world, it seems, with yearly compilation albums featuring everyone from Stardeath and White Dwarfs to Graham Colton. So it makes sense that Colourmusic — freak-poppers hailing from Stillwater — would craft a full album of original, offbeat holiday tunes themselves.
The Oklahoma City metro has a thriving garage rock scene. With seasoned acts like Broncho and Copperheads carrying the modern-day torch, the way has been paved for a flock of gritty, young, guitar-centric acts. But nascent Norman trio Poolboy has a knack for riotous hooks that few of its contemporaries can boast.
A lot of local bands could learn a lesson or two from songwriter Brantley Cowan and his new band, Modern Rock Diaries. There hasn’t been an album bigger and more ambitious than “Great Western Civilization” in a long while. It’s the sound of an act aiming for regional and national success, not just hoping for it.
In keeping with indie fashion, MRD employs a lot of full-band singing (both to harmonize and for choruses) to bolster their vocals, as well as a female violin player, Angela Allen, and some catchy synth melodies, à la Cut Copy.
But I think that Cowan’s rigid voice and lyrics (think not-so-dirty Caleb Followill of Kings of Leon) land the band in more of a modern alt-rock category. For example, see the lyrics of “19th Century New Indie Romance”: “Gonna live forever / We ain’t never gonna stop.”
Either way, it’s good stuff. Norman’s Blackwatch Studios producer Jarod Evans lends his abilities to the group, three-fourths of which hold music degrees from in-state schools. How’s that for local?
MRD next will play a Sept. 29 set at Kamp’s Deli & Market, 1310 N.W. 25th. In the meantime, snag “Great Western Civilization” for $5 at modernrockdiaries.bandcamp.com. —Matt Carney