Tulsa Sound roundup
Reviews of recent releases from three local acts
The Wright Brothers, “You, Me and the Universe”
To simply label The Wright Brothers’ release, “You, Me and the Universe,” as epic is to somewhat miss the point.
Sure, the adjective aptly describes these six tracks of Muse-inspired, cinematic rock grandeur.
But the bigger picture here is this: these four Tulsa brothers (Jonny, Jacob, Joseph and Jeremy Wright) are literally trying to crystallize pure joy on their six-song debut ... via sonic bombast and pounding drums and stratospheric vocals and soaring walls of beautiful distortion.
I’m not talking about any run-of-the-mill, “Hey, I just ate a really great sandwich” kind of joy either. No, I’m referring to the kind of breathless manic reverie that comes after staying up all night with your first love on a hilltop under a vast array of stars contemplating the infinite impossibilities of the universe and then — just as the sun breaks over the horizon in all its cosmic majesty — eating a really great sandwich. Now that’s a kind of joy worth listening to.
Junior Brown, “Volume Ten”
No one in the country music world is as masterful at fusing old school Bob Wills-style honky-tonk jazz/swing with wryly sardonic lyrics skewering modern life than Junior Brown.
(Maybe that’s because he’s probably the only Western swing artist who sings about annoying drivers using cell phones and apathetic Wi-Fi multitaskers.)
Interestingly though, when Brown focuses his sharp, down-home wit on these decidedly non-countrified subjects — lazily drawling out his lyrics in that sonorous, melodic baritone of his — they sound perfectly at home nestled within his musical bed of masterful guit-steel pickin’ and Cain’s Ballroom shuffle beats.
Not that all six of the songs on “Volume Ten” remain within the confines of modern technology and honky-tonk. Brown also explores jazz and blues territories with equal aplomb here, showing us just why he’s a living guitar legend. My only complaint with this fine release is that it ends too soon.
Young Lyons, “Crash Course”
When, quite out of the blue, Young Lyons hit the Beach Boys-flavored vocal harmony breakdown section of “Kill” on its EP, “Crash Course,” just before diving headlong into the alterna-rock distorto-stomp of the song’s closing refrain (all sheathed in a glossy layer of Brad Mitcho’s modern pop production) the moment perfectly summed up the band’s musical intention for its debut release — namely to create the best material possible, which became a big, fizzy fusion of anthem pop and buzzing radio rock.
The verdict? Mission accomplished in spades. Lead singer John Lyons’ plaintive tenor surges through seven songs about love, loss and independence, buoyed all the while on waves of overdriven guitar work interlaced within a tightly compressed strata of atmospheric/bopping synths, perfectly pocketed drums and Paul Cristiano’s super-crisp, driving bass.
It’s precisely structured fare, to be sure, with simple, melodic verses swelling into big, sing-along choruses, all swathed in swirling surround-stereo production. Definitely plenty of headphone candy here. Twenty-something angst never sounded so fun.
May’s best bets for live music
5/1: Fleetwood Mac, BOK Center
Does super-group Fleetwood Mac really need any promotion in my music column for its upcoming show at the BOK Center? (Um, no.) Does that change the fact that it’s one of the absolute greatest rock groups ever and you should definitely go see them in concert anytime you get the chance? (Of course not.) Concert kicks off at 8 p.m.
5/2: Metric, Cain’s Ballroom
When Canadian electro-rock quartet Metric released its last CD, “Fantasies,” they did it sans record company, opting instead to handle the day-to-day business of managing the group’s career via the foursome’s own Metric Music International. That decision led to the group’s first Top 20 hit on U.S. commercial radio, along with numerous industry awards, sold-out tours and even a private performance for the queen of England.
With Metric’s new release, “Synthetica,” the band is going it alone again. Don’t you want to support that kind of rugged independence? Of course you do. Don’t miss the band in concert, along with opening act The Colourist. Doors open at 7 p.m.