Friday 18 Apr

Dustin Prinz - Eleven

Few musicians take the time to master their instrument in the way that Oklahoma City singer-songwriter Dustin Prinz has; he’s a guitar virtuoso in every sense of the word, and Eleven gives him the chance to show just how far he can push that skill.
04/15/2014 | Comments 0

Horse Thief – Fear in Bliss

Listening to Horse Thief’s previous release — the haphazardly melodramatic Grow Deep, Grow Wild — felt like a chore. Whatever potential the Oklahoma City folk-pop act demonstrated on the EP was obscured behind a formulaic, contrived and ultimately hollow cloud. But it at least offered a glimmer of promise for a band consisting of, frankly, five pretty talented dudes. Critics saw it; the band’s management saw it; its current label, Bella Union, saw it; and its increasingly fervid fan base saw it.
04/08/2014 | Comments 0

Colourmusic — May You Marry Rich

There’s always a sense of danger when debuting songs in a live setting and playing them well. Without having heard the studio versions, expectations are set according to the live incarnations. But capturing the breadth of free-flowing atmosphere and sheer volume on a disc, vinyl or digital file isn’t the easiest thing to do, especially for a band as vociferous as Colourmusic.
04/01/2014 | Comments 0

Em and the MotherSuperiors — Churches into Theaters

As titles go, Churches into Theaters is an apt descriptor for the debut album from Oklahoma City rockers Em and the MotherSuperiors. It’s a reverential record, one that shares the gospel of classic rock, blues and soul but embraces the need to refashion it for modern times, channeling The Dead Weather, Grace Potter and Cage the Elephant along the way.
03/25/2014 | Comments 0

Rachel Brashear — Revolution

Rachel Brashear’s second EP, Revolution, starts with a kick to the shins.
03/18/2014 | Comments 0
Home · Articles · Music · Music · Nighty night

Nighty night

Don’t let the bedbugs bite. But if they do, Night Beds’ soothing sounds should make you feel all better.

Zach Hale May 29th, 2013

Night Beds with The Staves and Musikanto
8 p.m. Tuesday
113 N. Crawford, Norman

It’s rare, but certain voices can convey a message through inflection and tone when words alone often cannot. With artists like Billie Holiday and Robert Johnson, it wasn’t so much about what they were saying, but how they were saying it.

The depth of their uniquely expressive singing added a vital human element to their music — one that invited you into their vulnerable state and allowed you not just to empathize, but actually feel something.

Night Beds’ Winston Yellen takes a similar, vocal-driven approach to songwriting. And like Holiday and Johnson — both of whom inspired the lonesome, desolate beauty of Yellen’s debut album, Country Sleep — it’s his propensity for opening up at his most susceptible that makes his music so affecting.

“I’m not really confident,” Yellen said. “I was wary of doing something vocal-centric, but I kind of knew once I started writing the songs that that’s what it needed to be.”

Originally from Colorado, Yellen moved to study music at Belmont University in Nashville, Tenn., but dropped out less than two years in to write music on his own terms. So he took out a loan, rented an old home in the woods (once owned, coincidentally, by Johnny Cash and June Carter) and started penning songs.

Sonically, the end result is about what one would expect a nocturnal, whiskey-soaked stay in the pines to sound like: Weepy acoustic guitars, baroque string arrangements and cav ernous vocals seep in and out of Country Sleep’s 34 minutes. The melancholy these sounds emit isn’t purposefully morose, however; according to Yellen, it just kind of happened that way.

“It’s always toeing that line; you don’t want to be a dirge. But it doesn’t feel that way when I’m doing it,” he said. “I’m not one of those people who can write a song just to write a song.

I have to have that honesty or else I know I’m just wasting my time and wasting your time. If you’re not going to go all the way, don’t do it.”

Like the melodies that carry it, Yellen’s candor is often shrouded in an oddly accessible mist. Some lines are delivered with inviting clarity, others obscured beneath his ghostly murmur. In other words: just enough honesty to intrigue, yet enough ambiguity to keep it unmistakably personal.

The more personal the song, the more relatable Night Beds’ music becomes. What it boils down to is delivery, which, for Yellen, is synonymous with sincerity.

“You have to do art for yourself first and foremost,” he said. “The dream scenario is that you write something that has a therapeutic value for yourself, and then if it has that same effect on somebody, that’s the best thing you can get. Sometimes it does that and sometimes it doesn’t, but that’s always the hope.”

  • Currently 3.5/5 Stars.
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