It’s easy to see why many secular types consider Christian music a joke. Badly produced, pre-programmed Casio backbeats and plastic saxophones providing the soundtrack to a holier-than-thou message inspires snickers and winces from even those least jaded. OKC’s Soul Williams aims to and succeeds in knocking some sense into that rightfully stereotyped scene.
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.
Can’t teach an old dog new tricks? Well, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Case
in point: Chicago rock act Chevelle.
Swiftly approaching two decades since forming, the group remains as aggressive
and loud as ever.
“We are still writing music that inspires us, and hard rock is what inspires
us. There’s no reason to fake it,” drummer Sam Loeffler said. “Yeah, there’s
less screaming than there was earlier in our career, but there’s still always
this release in every song. It’s something that is important to us.”
Chevelle boasts a more diverse audience than most in its genre, all while
remaining true to that foundation. An ear for hooks and affection for The Cure
and Tool helped the outfit cross boundaries and break through to the mainstream
back in 2002 with Wonder What’s Next,
on the heels of standout singles “The Red” and “Send the Pain Below.”
“Most music comes down to melody. If the melody is good, it doesn’t matter what
the genre is,” Loeffler said. “Even though we are a hard rock band, we’ve
always concentrated in that, and I think it does pull in some people who
wouldn’t otherwise seek us out.”
Beyond that, Chevelle does little else to ensure wide appeal, especially weary
of tech trends now dominating American music. The band’s 2009 disc, Sci-Fi Crimes, was built using entirely
live recordings; its latest effort, December’s Hats Off to the Bull, was made the same way.
“A couple of years ago, we decided that we weren’t going to be a part of the
drum sample, Auto-Tune, Pro Tools style of production,” Loeffler said. “Every
sound that is on the record is something we made. Nothing is stolen. It
shouldn’t be a novelty, but it is.”
Hats Off finds Chevelle feeling
like underdogs, yet the disc debuted on Billboard’s Top 20. The group’s
Cinderella story keeps going.
“We felt like it was a good idea to make a nod to the underdog. It applies to a
lot of things right now, whether being the actual bull in a bullfight or the
music industry as a whole,” Loeffler said. “It could even stand for our economy
or the way things are going with the country. As Americans, I think we can all
feel like underdogs in some way, and everything is about proving the others