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.
After a break for dinner and a passing stop at Matt Corby's set (that dude can wail), we headed to Antone's to hear Glen Hansard (of the movie Once and the band Swell Seasons). Before he took the stage, we were treated to Wild Belle and Zulu Winter.
Wild Belle's set was an impressive mix of female vocals, reggae, and indie-pop. Much like David Ramirez, the songs introduced an infectious mood to the room; in contrast to the former artist, Wild Belle's mood was one of good times and chill vibes. The band was incredibly professional, putting the music before their image. Even though they had a beautiful woman as their lead singer, they respectfully didn't play this element up in their visual or musical identity; she was a member of the band like the rest of the members. This is refreshing in the pop music world.
Their songs were augmented by keys and some tasteful electronic elements; it was clear that the rhythm and overall texture of the piece was more important than any one sound. They succeeded in that endeavor, creating a tight set that left everyone in a good mood.
Zulu Winter quickly set up and capitalized on the audience's good mood. LCD Soundsystem was a clear touchstone for the band's sound, as the bass guitar and atmospheric synths played a huge role in their dance-rock. The band's songs created interesting tensions, which is a fundamental element of good dance-rock; the drums, bass and guitar often played off each other. The vocalist had a solid set of pipes, but the main draw was the instruments; to this end, I would have liked to hear more instrumental interplay and less vocals.
But on the whole, it was a fun set that had some in the audience shimmying, and I was happy to have seen it. I'll keep a close ear to their music to see if they will develop into the band that takes up LCD Soundsystem's mantle as the thinking-man's dance band.