Few, if any, Oklahoma bands have seen a rise as meteoric as Tallows over the past year, yet its seemingly overnight ascension didn’t happen by chance. The Oklahoma City four-piece is well-versed in the ways of modern pop songwriting, drawing from both glitchy electronica and cathartic indie rock in equal measure. Last year, the band pulled off a rare musical feat with its debut album, Memory Marrow, which was steeped heavily in the breadth of recent history yet managed to sound like nothing else before it.
Chelsey Cope’s new band, Elms, is as earthy and native to Oklahoma as the trees that are their namesake. The soulful folk four-piece’s debut EP, Parallel Lines, was recorded at Bell Labs Recording Studio in Norman and is on its way in September. But the band has already given us a tease, with its first single, “Burn,” going live on SoundCloud on July 14.
If a capella; catchy, ska-infused choruses; or an intro bit that
wouldn't be out of place in “Shaft” interest you, give Big Fresh a
Employing the talents of 10 musicians, this Kentucky indie ensemble handles pop, rock, reggae, ska and everything in between. The problem is, it loses its identity in the process, forsaking accessibility for technicality.
The single, "Rumours," features the most restrained use of horns on the album, as well as a quirky piano accompaniment and the record’s best hook, which, according to songwriter John Ferguson, handles "class issues and the inhumanity of American capitalism." This theme of greed and the futility of financial accrual saturates much of “Moneychasers,” but the juxtaposition with Big Fresh's indie-pop sensibilities conjures up some cognitive dissonance.
"Rumours" is, in many ways, the most boring song of the bunch, but that's not necessarily a bad thing. It features conventional songwriting — stuff the rest of the album knows little of. To a lesser extent, "Here Is the Deal" charms with its normality as well, offering up some rare, guitar-driven relief.
One luxury of having 10 people in a group is musical flexibility. Instead of picking a sound and sticking to it, Big Fresh can adopt any style it wishes, and does. On a song-by-song basis, “Moneychasers” impresses with a smorgasbord of consistently catchy and enjoyable, although brief, tracks.
However, the disc feels disjointed as a whole. There's no constant, aside from the foundation: workmanlike vocals from Kate Drof and Ferguson, a tight rhythm section and capable guitarists. Including a horn section and three keyboardists may be a source of disjunction, but "Rumours" begs to differ.
“Moneychasers” displays remarkable potential from the group in terms of musicianship, arrangement and songwriting, but Big Fresh needs some time to regroup and focus on what kind of album it wants to make.