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LIFE MUSIC REVIEWS


None June 17th, 2014

For a band so prolific, ambitious and endearingly experimental, it’s a wonder that more Flaming Lips side projects haven’t emerged over the years. Several dozen collaborations have come and gone, but rarely anything that wasn’t released under the official Lips’ umbrella.

The Electric Würms Song: “Heart of the Sunrise” | flaminglips.com

For a band so prolific, ambitious and endearingly experimental, it’s a wonder that more Flaming Lips side projects haven’t emerged over the years. Several dozen collaborations have come and gone, but rarely anything that wasn’t released under the official Lips’ umbrella. It makes sense, given that the Oklahoma natives have never shied away from casting a wide net in its 30-odd years.

This makes The Electric Würms — a new offshoot featuring Wayne Coyne and Steven Drozd — and its designation as a separate entity feel significant. Debut single (and Yes cover) “Heart of the Sunrise” reveals it is more a matter of role reversal than a drastic new sound.

The single strikes a happy balance between The Terror and Embryonic; the big difference is Drozd stepping into the foreground, singing (his voice not unlike Coyne’s, if pleasingly vulnerable) as Coyne and Nashville act Linear Downfall play behind.

Yes’ original was an exercise in technical skill, but The Electric Würms condense the more than 11-minute sprawl of prog indulgences into a softly pretty, three-minute ballad. It’s the most effective sort of cover, celebrating the spirit without devolving into a bar band rendition. It speaks to The Electric Würms itself: a new look for an old favorite. — Joshua Boydston

Kyle Reid & the Low Swinging Chariots Song: “When I Was Young” | kylereidmusic.com

Every artist should be the star of their own creative life, which makes Kyle Reid’s steps out of the shadows of the many ensembles and supporting roles he has played in Oklahoma bands over the years to front and center on stage feel like a just journey.

And that spotlight suits Reid just fine, his moonshine brew of all things classic American music making him a favorite on outdoor stages and dive bars alike. That wholesome, good-time sound is especially potent on “When I Was Young,” a track off Reid’s upcoming album Alright, Here We Go. Marrying upbeat folk, Nawlins’ brassy jazz and a tempered rockabilly swagger, it’s an erahopping treat.

He isn’t breaking new ground so much as parading over well-trodden soil; execution is key in this sort of revivalist spirit, but Reid and his Low Swinging Chariots are more than up to the task, breezily moving through the song’s five minutes with a loose expertise. For that, Reid and Co. have become time travelers, swapping the Delorean for a Model T and inviting strangers on board to experience all the memories they have never actually had. — JB

Weak Knees Song: “IceBevo” | weakkneesmusic.bandcamp.com

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.

Oklahoma City trio Weak Knees — singer/guitarist Joshua Peck, bassist Taylor Hale and drummer Brent Hodge — do a great job adding to that new guard of light-on-its-feet indie rockers, “IceBevo” emerging as the standout of its debut EP, Absence.

It’s marked by its lack of pretense, a simple jangle of a guitar riff that kicks back and relaxes without ever feeling the need to overextend or overexert. There’s some capable, Yuck-leaning ’90s college rock found in hotter and heavier pockets elsewhere on Absence, but “IceBevo” is content to drift in a lo-fi eddy of surf pop, subtle psych folk and fringe emo that trickles through a slight but purposeful bass line picked up for the first verse.

There’s no soaring bridge, devastating climax or paralyzing breakdown — just a simple indierock track that slowly and carefully unfolds itself, dying as it lived: peacefully and prettily. — JB

 
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