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.
You know you’re listening to a Red Dirt —
not a country, or worse, pop-country — album, when a song called
“Dresses” hits you in the gut with the lyric “You recklessly abandon me /
That’s just the way you are.”
The song opens Edmond resident Stoney LaRue’s second studio full-length, “Velvet,” six years after “The Red Dirt Album.” At times, LaRue and his band (which features CMA favorite Randy Scruggs on guitar) kid themselves with the limited singer’s range, but they really nail the dark, smooth feeling suggested by the title, with soft-rock guitar fills and a mysterious flute lilting in and out.
“Dresses” isn’t really one of those songs, but it works as foreboding introduction to the drama that plays out in “Wiregrass” and “Sharecropper.” The anxiety cast by the intro and lyrics on “Sirens” and “Has Been” seem much truer to LaRue’s expertise.
With songwriting partner Mando Saenz, he shamelessly mixes metaphors to maintain a rhyme in the last verse of “Look at Me Fly,” however, which combines with a limp, rock-dude chorus to form the album’s only grievous misstep. It sounds badly out of place.
Eventually, the title track does shine a sense of closure on the album, but only a sense. “You just don’t know how long I can stay,” LaRue sings. When an LP lacks a strong scene and a full vocal range, intuitive lyrics can only do so much.
LaRue plays Friday at Wormy Dog Saloon, 311 E. Sheridan. For more information, call 601-6276 or visit wormydog.com. —Matt Carney