Thursday, April 23, 2015

10 Questions with Skytown

Skytown is a “6 piece Acoustic Alternative Rock band” from Tulsa/Skiatook, OK.  The band recently signed with BLDGBLKS Music Company and is preparing to release their full-length debut later this year. 

This interview was conducted via email March 5-April 6, 2015. 

For more information on Skytown check out their official website, Facebook, Twitter, and ReverbNation pages. 

Dave:  How did the band get together?

Dale:  Well, Tim and I have known each other since grade school and played in various projects together.  Eliot joined the band in 2013 and we played as “Marvin Garden’s” until a trademark issue with another artist
Tim:  Some rapper in NYC
Dale:  led to the name change to Skytown
Eliot:  You're welcome
Dale:  OJ joined in early 2014, with Carson and Dave joining shortly after. 


Dave:  What’s the story behind the name Skytown?

Eliot:  We’re a hometown band, and our hometown of Skiatook, OK has always has always been referred to as “Skytown."  So when we had to change our name, it was an easy choice.  Dale, Tim & I all grew up in Skiatook
Dale:  Some of us still do! 
Tim:  Hell Yeah we do.
Eliot:  and have so many memories of shit we did growing up in a small town, that naming our band after our hometown was a no-brainer. 
Dale:  Plus, that name wasn't trademarked and we didn't want to go through a name change again.
   

Dave:  For those who have never heard the band, how do you describe your music?

OJ:  This is actually a harder question then it seems, because each of us describes our sound differently when we're asked that question.  And so do people who have tried to describe our music to us.  We've heard every description you could think of:  A heavier version of Counting Crows mixed with some Days of the New.  
Tim:  Yeah, basically everything from "the Allman Brothers on crack" to
Dale:  "Three Dog Night meets Matchbox 20." 
OJ:  Yeah.  People's ideas of who we sound like are all over the board.   And we're totally fine with any comparison.
Skytown:  Yeah
OJ:  In fact, the harder it is for people to classify us, the more we know we're accomplishing what we set out to accomplish, which is to be a band that is unique and has a sound that is entirely our own.
Tim:  For sure.  We want people to recognize a Skytown song when they first hear it, even if they've never heard that particular Skytown song before.         


Dave:  You recorded your full-length debut last summer and it is slated to come out later this year.  What's the story behind the record?

Tim:  We had posted some homemade demo’s online, and Glenn Sawyer from the Spot Studios in Denver send us an email telling us he really liked what he heard.  So we started exchanging some emails and soon we were in Colorado recording with Glenn and his producing partner, Rich Veltrop (Rage Against the Machine, Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers, Pink & many others).  We were out there for 3 weeks, had the time of our lives, and came away with 8 really solid songs.  


Dave:  Do you have plans to tour in support of the new record? What are some of your favorite places to play?

OJ:  We love playing Cain's Ballroom here in Tulsa, the Vanguard, The Shrine, the Hunt Club,  Soundpony.  There's son many places to play here.  And that's the great thing about Tulsa’s music scene right now; is that there is always some great music being played somewhere in town. 
Tim:  All those places are great venues for playing music in and we'll play those any chance we can, but right now we're really trying to expand the cities that we routinely play in to include Oklahoma City, the Dallas/Ft. Worth area, Austin
Eliot:  Yeah, it's my dream to play Austin City Limits
OJ:  I'll die happy once we play Red Rocks in Colorado
Tim:  Lawrence KS, Kansas City, MO. 


Dave:  Do you have any specific type of songwriting process?

Tim:  It really depends on who brings the song to the table.  Dale, OJ & I each wrote songs that made it on our EP, and they all had different "paths" that they took from an idea scribbled down on a scrap of paper to what they are now. 
OJ:  For sure, I  typically start a new song around a melody that gets stuck in my head or a lyrical idea or phrase that I think would make an interesting idea for a song, and then I just sit down and write.  Sometimes the songs just "flow" and it's not much work.  "Prizefighter" & "Drove Me to Drink" were both like that.  10 minutes after I started writing the song, it was done.  
Dale:  Yeah, those are the fun ones 'cuz there's some instant gratification.  I typically like to start writing a new song around a guitar riff and then I'll flesh a melody of from there and add some lyrics and then bring it to the band.
Eliot:  Yeah, and once we've all heard it and decide that 'yeah, this could be a Skytown song',  everyone just starts to add their own layer after that.  
OJ:  Absolutely.  And sometimes we'll write a song around a certain instrument.  For instance, I've been writing a song for a couple of weeks now that's built around a drum beat I heard Eliot playing when he was just goofing off. 
Eliot:  Really? 
OJ:  Yeah man. 
Eliot:  That's cool.      


Dave:  What are your thoughts on the music scene in Oklahoma?

OJ:  We couldn't be prouder of the strength of OK music scene right now.  There are so many awesome and talented bands that are making music in OK right now and all that does is further elevate the reputation of the OK music scene to "outsiders" or people that might not normally pay that much attention to the music coming out of a "fly-over" state. 
Dale:  For sure.  With all the rich musical history that OK has produced (Garth Brooks, Reba, Hanson
OJ:  the Flaming Lips, Kings of Leon, Leon Russell, Woody Guthrie
Eliot:  All-American Rejects, Toby Keith, Blake Shelton, All About a Bubble
Tim:  Don't forget Vince Gill!
Dale:  and so many others, it's not a surprise to us that OK is getting some recognition from people outside the state. 
Tim:  Something special is happening with the music coming from OK artists right now, especially music coming from Tulsa artists and we're just thrilled to be a part of what's happening.    


Dave:  This is a High Fidelity inspired question. What are your top five favorite bands, albums, movies, television programs, books/authors?

OJ:  Band = U2, movie = The Big Lebowski, TV = LOST
Dale:  Band = Pantera, movie = All 8 Harry Potter movies, TV = Trailer Park Boys
Eliot:  Band = Modest Mouse, movies = Oh Brother Where Art Thou, TV = the Food Network
Tim:  Band = The 69 Eyes, movies = Interview with a Vampire, TV = Trailer Park Boys


Dave:  What’s next for the band?

Dale:  We plan on hitting all the summer music festivals that we can and playing every opportunity we have.  We really want to start playing more in Arkansas and Texas and some of the surrounding states and really trying to build some excitement before our album release. 


Dave:  Any final thoughts?

Skytown:  “Skytown IS this nation’s backbone.  HellYeah.” – Cam Brady O-Fifteen 

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Album Review: 'High on Tulsa Heat' by John Moreland

Title:  High on Tulsa Heat (Official, BandCamp, Amazon, iTunes)

John Moreland’s sixth full-length album (his third solo record) High on Tulsa Heat is a pristinely beautiful ode to home through the lens of loss, heartache, hope, and grief.  Moreland has an uncanny knack for putting words to those deep and often dark emotions that we all bury down inside.  He also is storyteller like no other, using the metaphor of storms to tell the turbulent tale of a rocky relationship in “Cleveland County Blues” but does it in such a brilliant way that the metaphor could as easily apply to the spring storms that often rage through Oklahoma, and that is just one example.  From top to bottom, High on Tulsa Heat is a powerful record that displays its majesty through its simplicity, heart, and depth.  Following up 2013’s brilliant In the ThroesHigh on Tulsa Heat masterfully proves, once again, that John Moreland is the single greatest songwriter alive today. 



Sunday, April 19, 2015

Album Review: 'Red City Radio' by Red City Radio

Title: Red City Radio (Official, Amazon, iTunes)
Artist: Red City Radio (Official, Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, Last.fm, Wikipedia)

Red City Radio's self-titled third full-length album is a record that displays a deep musical and lyrical growth. Following the departure of guitarist/co-vocalist and founding member Paul Pendley in 2014, the band was joined by former Nothington bassist Ryan Donovan on guitar. The change in lineup has certainly had an effect on the band's sound but the roots of this new direction were more than amply laid on their previous record Titles (plus singer/guitarist Garrett Dale's solo material also dropped a few hints about RCR's future sound). So what exactly is different? Red City Radio's earlier records were high octane punk rock that pulled generously from the likes of Dillinger Four and Hot Water Music. On Red City Radio, the band has dropped the earlier pretense of cryptic lyrics for straight forward personal tales of love, struggle, and life. Sonically this record is a tad slower and far more rock 'n' roll than previous releases but the spirit of punk rock is still front and center. The easiest way to describe these changes is to say that this record is far more The Tim Version and Nothington than Dillinger Four and Hot Water Music. The end result is a powerful punch to the gut that touches the soul and leaves the listener singing along while pumping their fist in the air. Red City Radio is easily the band's best release to date and is one of, if not the, best record of 2015.    

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Album Review: 'In This Mess' by toyGuitar

Title:  In This Mess (Fat Wreck Chords, BandCamp, Amazon, iTunes, Interpunk)

In This Mess is a high energy romp that mixes elements of garage rock, punk, and power pop.  The record opens with the jangly blast of “Human Hyenas” perfectly setting the stage for what is to come.  While most of the record is on the fast side, it is the slower moments that really let toyGuitar shine.  Songs like the mid-tempo “Static Attraction” and the almost ballad “Roller Coasters” showcase that this band is far from being another punk band which shouldn’t be at all surprising considering the band is led by singer/guitarist Jack Dalrymple of One Man Army, Dead To Me, and Swingin’ Utters fame.  I have been a fan of Dalrymple’s work since I first heard One Man Army’s “Down the Block” on a now long-forgotten four-way split seven inch, prior to the release of the band’s full-length debut (we’re talking sometime in ’97 or ’98) and have followed him ever since.  Dalrymple’s songwriting has always been light-years ahead of his contemporaries and that is certainly the case here.  In This Mess is a record that in a lot of ways, is very hard to describe.  The songs are fun and catchy with lyrics that are intelligent and poignant, but at the same time this band really sounds like no one else.  Sure there are elements that are familiar, especially for fans of One Man Army’s last EP She’s An Alarm, but the totality of the record and the band is impossible to classify with one simple label or genre.  The main takeaway from In This Mess is that toyGuitar isan incredibly talented band that writes fun and high energy songs that are complex in their simplicity and powerful in their honesty.  

Friday, April 17, 2015

EP Review: 'A History So Repeating' by Gentlemen Rogues

Title:  A History So Repeating (End Sounds, Amazon, iTunes)
Artist:  Gentlemen Rogues (Official, Facebook, Twitter, BandCamp, SoundCloud, YouTube, MySpace)

Gentlemen Rogues latest EP A History So Repeating is a power pop powerhouse release.  From top to bottom, the songs on the EP are catchy with tight hooks and melodies that are destined to get stuck in your head.  Gentlemen Rogues’ music pulls from the legendary power pop artists on the late 70s (Cheap Trick, Elvis Costello) and the indie rock of the early 1990s (The Lemonheads, Manic Street Preachers) resulting in a sound that is familiar and nostalgic while still fresh and vibrant.  The EP opens with a blast in the incredibly catchy “Your Armageddon” and never lets up from there.  Gentlemen Rogues is an incredibly fun band with great taste in music (just check out their covers of Erasure’s “A Little Respect” on this EP plus their previous covers of Buffalo Tom and Beach Slang).  A History So Repeating is the band’s third and probably best release to date making it a must for fans of power pop, early 90s indie rock, or just catchy as hell rock ‘n’ roll.      

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Ranking the Albums: John Moreland

In honor of and preparation for the April 21st release of his latest album High on Tulsa Heat, I figured this would be a good time to revisit my Ranking the Albums feature with one of the best artists the Sooner State has ever produced – John Moreland.

Moreland started playing music in punk and hardcore bands. He made his first splash with his group John Moreland & The Black Gold Band, recording two full-length albums with the band (Endless Oklahoma Sky and Things I Can't Control) before moving on to a solo career. His first solo record Earthbound Blues was released in 2011, which also saw the release of Everything the Hard Way his first record with John Moreland & The Dust Bowl Souls. 2013 saw the release of Moreland's staggeringly beautiful In The Throes which very well could be his magnum opus. In-between the full-length records, he has also release a few EPs including Hope Springs Ephemeral and Take Me Back Apart / Blues & Kudzu (in 2010 and 2011 respectfully) and has had three songs appear on the hit television series Sons of Anarchy.

For this list I have limited myself to Moreland's full-length albums. Make sure to also check out my reviews of Things I Can't Control, Hope Springs Ephemeral and Take Me Back Apart / Blues & Kudzu, Earthbound Blues, Everything the Hard Way, and In The Throes. Also make sure to pick up Moreland's new record High on Tulsa Heat when it come out next week. I've heard it and it is awesome so go and out and buy it already! This list is in order of preference (though they are all fantastic).

For more information on John Moreland check out his official website, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, MySpace, BandCamp, Last.fm, and Wikipedia pages.

1. In the Throes
2. Everything the Hard Way
3. Things I Can't Control
4. Earthbound Blues
5. Endless Oklahoma Sky

Video of the Day: "Honey" by Kid Wave

"Honey" by Kid Wave (OfficialFacebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, SoundCloud)

From:  Wonderlust (Rough Trade Records, Amazon, iTunes)

Friday, April 10, 2015

Album Review: ‘Tales From Wyoming’ by Teenage Bottlerocket

Title:  Tales From Wyoming (Official, Amazon, iTunes, Interpunk)
Artist:  Teenage Bottlerocket (Official, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, MySpace, Last.fm, Wikipedia)

Teenage Bottlerocket is THE quintessential pop punk band.  More than Screeching Weasel, more than the Descendents, hell even more than the Ramones, Teenage Bottlerocket epitomize the genre.  The band’s sixth full-length, and first for Rise Records, Tales From Wyoming is everything one would expect from TBR and then some.  With songs that are as catchy as they are quirky, TBR tackles topics ranging from love and girls to Minecraft and Metallica.  Tales… is this first time that the band has worked with legendary producer Bill Stevenson (ALL, Descendents) and the result is pretty much perfection.  Overall the record is a bit slower than previous efforts (most songs are in the faster-mid-tempo range) and includes the band’s first acoustic ballad, the beautiful closing track “First Time” but that is not to say that the record is lacking energy because it is not.  In fact, the record is bursting with energy and dares the listener to not sing and dance along.  From start to finish Tales From Wyoming is a perfect pop punk record that should even turn folks that aren’t fans of the genre into fans of the band.