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.
Gentle Ghost with Chris Bathgate and Riley Jantzen & The Spirits Saturday The Deli 309 White, Norman thedeli.us 321-7048
Amid Gentle Ghost’s signature jarring, distorted, three-guitar assault, singer Seth McCarroll has to work extra hard to keep from getting drowned out.
His close attention to storytelling detail and occasional bouts of shouting creates an aggressive tension with the Norman post-rock band’s especially loud style, which mimics some of the destructive domestic themes explored in its 2010 album, “Family.”
“He’s one of my favorite songwriters,” guitarist Brady Smith (pictured, right) said. “He’s great at creating a very illustrated story with the words, and drawing from things that aren’t obvious. Expressing feelings and emotions by describing something, instead of saying, ‘I feel this way’ or ‘You broke my heart.’” He compared McCarroll’s (pictured) talents to songwriters like Conor Oberst and Tim Kasher, best known for his work with the group Cursive.
“He’s very perceptive to harsh details and stuff that grabs your attention,” Smith said.
Like the album title, the six-piece (which includes Scott Harper and brothers Adam and Tyler Huskerson) is a close bunch, for whom friendship comes first. They write, practice and record as time allows and play shows without regular frequency.
Saturday night’s set at The Deli, with local Riley Jantzen and Michigan’s Chris Bathgate, will be their first since September’s Deep Deuce Music Festival, where they played new songs with faster tempos and ominous, samples from podcasts about paranormal activity.
“We really wanted something to tie our songs together. We’re just playing rock songs, but we also want this sense of drama,” Smith said. “So to be able to tie those together thematically — and not in a way that instrumental bands do like Explosions [in the Sky], where it’s 52 minutes of nonstop playing. We’re just trying to get from point A to D, and have it feel like a really smooth process. So while we’re tuning or something, people can listen to this crazy, theoretical nonsense about UFOs. And you don’t really know what it’s about.”
The effect is challenging — like the best post-rock music — and a little unsettling, like you’ve returned home to find your stuff rearranged. Perhaps by some friendly apparition, suggested by the band’s name?
Smith said they plan to release a 7-inch recording in the near future, and that six new songs are in the final tweaking phase (“Just a couple more bolts and screws tightened”) and three more are under heavier construction.
“We keep in mind that when we play this stuff live, we don’t want it to be boring,” Smith said. “We’ve got three guitars, so we’re always trying to find out how to avoid playing just chords all the time.”