No one wants to be forgotten; everyone wants some sort of legacy, a mark they leave behind as they exit this life for whatever lies beyond.
And for as long as there has been death, there have been monuments — whether austere or understated, abstract or concrete, prominent or tucked away in private — erected by the ones they loved to assure that remembrance, at least for a time.
Some of the best albums and artists were born out of happy accidents owed to varying degrees of early suckage — the perfect note or chord for a song found by missing the one you are aiming for, failed mimicry of an idol bearing something entirely new and great instead.
The Tequila Songbirds have become just as beloved as about any group around these parts. And how could they not?
Featuring a revolving cast of the Sooner State’s most badass female performers, it’s a power hour of some of the best songwriting coming out of central Oklahoma. Sure, they might not technically be family, but they are clearly a band of sisters all the same, bonded by the same brand of whiskey running through their veins.
"Overproduced" is a term thrown around all too indiscreetly nowadays, usually applied when the thing that sticks out about a song or album is how it sounds rather than how it is constructed. Yet some of the most compelling albums ever crafted embodied a certain aesthetic that was just as skillfully and meticulously put together as any Bob Dylan or Miles Davis record — which is to say production is as crucial to our enjoyment of music as much as anything else; it's also the most overlooked.
Indie rock has been in a good place as of late. Not caring about being cool is the new cool, and a couple of dudes on guitar, bass and drums can make catchy, earworm songs without being armed to the gills with computer software and vintage synthesizers.
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