Over the past couple of years, Mike Williams has been laying low musically. Following the final dissolution of The Agony Scene, he settled back into Tulsa to focus on life and his sons and you can't blame him. After all, rule No. 1 is inflexible: family trumps all. After spending years focusing on music and being on the road, it's good to press the restart button and get grounded, and Williams has done just that.
For those who know Williams, but perhaps don't know much of his history with The Agony Scene, it might be hard to picture him as a metalcore screamer. In fact, it might be hard for some to imagine him fronting a band at all, especially if they know him as a full-time student in welding school or the quiet but affable bouncer at Mercury Lounge.
Every once in a while, though, (usually on Sunday evenings) he's been known to get on stage and belt out a couple of tunes. Usually it's a cover or two or a song by his good friend John Moreland. Somewhere hidden in that catalogue of songs, however, he's kept a few of his own hidden away.
About a month ago, Williams sent me a trio of songs that set me on ear. A far cry from his metalcore past, the songs are more closely related to the Americana that plays at Mercury Lounge, yet retains a far more aggressive tone. Recorded at Armstrong Recording with Stephen Egerton at the Helm and John Moreland on guitar and Pete Webb on drums, Williams let loose with three muscular tracks that channel a mix of Americana, punk and outlaw country.
Take the honky-tonk side of Mike Ness, add a little extra Johnny Cash and enough young buck attitude to keep it fresh and you've got an approximation of the vibe on "Fall from Grace." "I'll Get By" builds from there, adding in a jangle and hope that pulls the music a little more toward center and draws comparison to The Hold Steady and Gaslight Anthem, with more heart than both.
"Long Way Home" rounds out the trio with a more reflective tone and a sonic tapestry that paints an Oklahoma sunset behind reflections on youth and growing up. Although it's not as up-tempo as the prior two tracks, it proves to be the knockout punch that "Fall from Grace" and "I'll Get By" were setting you up for.
In one of the many brief conversations that I've had with Williams, he shared that part of the reason that he hasn't been playing is simply that he's been too busy. School, work and family have all been pulling at his time and I can appreciate that. With school complete and his personal schedule changing, however, Williams is ready to move on to the next chapter in his life and he's doing it with a sounding shot with this trio of songs.
Fortunately for Tulsa, he hasn't decided to keep the songs to himself or only share with a fortunate few. Just a couple weeks ago, everything started taking shape as Moreland assembled some great artwork and Williams decided to go ahead and release the songs digitally as the Landlocked EP. Best of all, he's made it a free download via bandcamp.com.
Before a band appears, however, I can only hope we'll see and hear more to come from the studio to gradually build his catalog. As good as this introduction is, it would be a tragedy to not hear more. This is the stuff that simmers below the surface and keeps Tulsa's music scene exciting.
Scene and Heard
By now everyone knows that the Brady Block Party got postponed due to the storm front and high winds that came in, blowing over The Flaming Lips light rig and LED screen. Although the show wasn't able to go on, that doesn't mean you didn't get to see the remaining three bands in Tulsa -- you just had to be in the right place at the right time.
MuteMath layed low on Saturday evening, but the band arrived a day early and were witnessed enjoying dinner with friends at Yokozuna on Friday night, although most people didn't notice.
Les Claypool and Primus were almost as low-key, settling in at Crystal Pistol and drinking with the locals well into the evening on Saturday after the show had been cancelled. Meanwhile, it's a little harder to not get noticed in Oklahoma if you're Wayne Coyne. Nevertheless, Wayne and few of the Flaming Lips crew stopped in at IDL Ballroom to enjoy the Legion dance party, support the Oklahoma City artists that were in town and visit with some old friends. After all, even though the show wasn't able to continue, the party must go on.
And if you've had your ears open, you've likely heard rumblings on this one or perhaps even heard a rough mix if you're lucky. A few weeks ago, two-time ABoT artist of the year Brandon Clark got a phone call from out of town about recording a theme-song of sorts for the OU football games. The song was pre-written, but Brandon Clark Band was able to take it into the studio with a few friends to put their own spin on the song.
If you're an OU football fan, you can expect to hear BCB's version of "Are You Really Ready" before the games this season. The song will officially debut within the next few weeks and likely appear on the band's next CD as a bonus track. Yes, it's a little cheesy, but should provide some great exposure and some new gigs in Norman on game weekends.
School is starting up again, but the summer isn't over. If anything, the concert calendar has only gotten busier. As always, we've got the highlights for you.
• Thursday, August 18 -- It's a great night for big shows to kick start the week. If you're a hard rock fan, don't miss The Damned Things at Cain's Ballroom with Maylene & the Sons of Disaster and local openers Triple Fang and Woebegone. The spotlight is on country music tonight, however, as Keith Urban arrives at BOK Center with Jake Owen opening. Afterwards, the best bet for your afterparty is Brandon Autry at Hunt Club for a final round or two before heading home.
• Friday, August 19 -- If you're still in a country mood, Kristin Nicole Band continues its takeover of Tulsa and Green Country with a show at Expressway Lounge in Sand Springs. Hip Hop fans will want to check out Playa 1000 and Deekstra with Tammy Hamilton, Branjae and more at Paradox in Broken Arrow or give Verse and Holy Men a try at Soundpony. If you're looking for a party, though, all you have to do is follow Alex & the Anders, who will be landing at Mercury Lounge on Friday.
• Saturday, August 20 -- If you're ready to find out what the next wave of young bands is all about, then make a stop at The Marquee for "Beat the Heat" with Upright, Parallels, Edge of Exile, Save the Admiral, Vonnegut, Murder of Crows and Lovely Bones. One show, seven bands, ten bucks. Get there early, though -- the show starts at 5:30pm.
If you're part of the older crowd, Rude Amps returns to Soundpony with North Side Hotdogs and J Rock. Whirligig makes for a great weekend show as well when the band takes over The Colony.
• Sunday, August 21 -- Wrap up your weekend with a little jazz to relax with Rick Gill and J3 at the Jazz Hall of Fame or Annie Ellicott at Smoke on Cherry Street.
• Monday, August 22 -- Osage Event Center continues to open up to all styles of music when it welcomes Young Jeezy with Freddie Gibbs at 7pm with a cheap, $15 ticket.
• Tuesday, August 23 -- It's a night of guitar rock with Peter Frampton at The Joint or Drowning Pool with Burn Halo, Siva Addiction, Echoes the Fall, Absence of Ink and Searching for Sanity at Cain's Ballroom.
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