Back in late 2009, local alt-rock station Z104.5 The Edge, stepped up and made a bold move to reestablish itself as one of the city's biggest supporters of local music by bringing back the annual Homegroan CD, an offshoot of its weekly radio show which features two hours of local music every Sunday night. That first disc was a mixed bag, with a few established bands and a handful that were relatively unheard of. Last year's disc raised the bar with an even better mix of bands and stronger songs, showing growth not only in our local bands, but also The Edge's selection process.
Just before Thanksgiving, The Edge rolled out the latest edition of the disc and what may be the most consistent compilation to date. In some aspects, it feels like the organizers have played it safe this year. Of the twelve bands included, three (RadioRadio, FM Pilots and Sownds) are returning after appearing on last year's disc -- four if you count Zachary Mobely, who was a primary member of Popular Culture, who also appeared last year. In addition, two bands (Oklahoma City's Aranda and our own Driveby Sonata) appeared on the 2009 disc, as did RadioRadio.
Before knit-picking that details, however, it's worth considering two factors: the number of bands who actually submit new material and the fact that The Edge makes the effort to sort through those submissions and pull the best material to give an accurate representation of Tulsa's strongest and most promising artists.
With that in mind, it shouldn't be a surprise that RadioRadio would appear again as it is one of Tulsa's most productive and consistent rock acts, as exemplified by the fact that this year's submission, "Fast as a Leopard," is once again among the strongest tracks on the disc. Likewise, FM Pilots have knocked out yet another catchy pop track and are starting to show some maturity in their writing with more promise for the future.
Opening with Aranda's "Undone" is both a wise and uninspired move: Wise in that it opens the disc with one of the region's biggest bands (having been courted by a couple of record labels and opened for a number of national acts) and uninspired in that it's a safe bet, not just because it's a known name, but because the track sounds much like one of sixty other national acts that dominate active rock radio right now. Yes, it could fit in on playlists nationwide, but it wouldn't really stand out.
Familiarity with Sownds' "Someone Else's Dream" and Dante and the Hawks' "Tonight Tonight" from each band's local release makes them not particularly surprising or fresh, but smart choices as strong tracks that add to the variety and consistency on the disc.
The surprises on the disc are twofold and come from the bands that are new to the compilation. "Deadgirl" by Madewell? and Kicktree's "B4" add some garage rock energy that keeps the latter half of the disc interesting. Although the production on both is a little more raw and unrefined, that's exactly what's needed to keep things from sounding overproduced.
More interesting and inspired, however, are three tracks in the first half of the disc. "Time Runs Out" makes me look forward to more from The Loaded Dice, the local duo that draws inspiration from The Black Keys and refines blues riffs with a heavy and infectious groove. I've already seen this group and know that the live show is every bit as engaging, so this is definitely a band to keep an eye out for.
Perhaps more surprising, however, is "Feels Good" by Able the Allies. Although the group is known more as a cover band, this track proves they've got a great grasp of big hooks and are strong songwriters in their own right. The only disappointment is that this track shows up in November, as it sound more like summer track, but perhaps it will help keep our heads in a warm place as the winter chills hit.
The other home run on the disc is Zachary Mobely's "Perverting the American Dream." The funky bass line and aggressive push of "I Think" by Roots of Thought would be the mid-disc standout, but the sheer power of Mobely's track casts a shadow that stretches at least two tracks out. The cynic in me could attribute it all to formula: a slowly chiming guitar builds with a wall of back ground vocals and hits you mid stream with a dynamic thrust reminiscent of Nirvana. As much as I might like to dismiss it, however, this is the track that consistently makes me stop and take notice.
Rockin' and Rollin'.
In review: The Edge turns out its most consistent compilation to date and gives out local bands some much needed exposure. Although all of the tracks are strong, this year's big winners are The Loaded Dice, Able the Allies and Zachary Mobely.
As always, this is a free disc that Z104.5 is distributing at local drops and remote broadcasts. You can get yours by catching the Edge at the remaining remotes: Dec. 10 at Draper Family GNC in Broken Arrow (3-5p); Dec. 19 at Draper Family GNC at 71st & Memorial (4-6p) and Dec. 3,10, 15, and 17 at Hard Rock Casino. Grab it now for an extra stocking stuffer for yourself and friends.
Grab That Sweater
Speaking of stocking stuffers, the Edge kicks off the Christmas concert season this Sunday night, Dec. 4, with "The Ugly Christmas Sweater" concert. Co-headlined by Rise Against and Cage The Elephant (who return after a great show at Cain's Ballroom in April), this should be one heck of a package show. Awolnation, who was part of the Brady Block Party in August and has been gaining airplay on the Edge (as well as nationally) opens the show.
In keeping with the ugly sweater theme, the Edge is holding a contest to see who has the worst sweater in town. You can register for the contest by stopping in at the concert pre-party at The Hunt Club before 6pm, with the winner announced at the concert and rewarded with a guitar autographed by all three bands. If you're the luck winner, you can thank your Grandma this year by not cringing quite so much when you receive the next one. Tickets are still available for the show for $35 and $37.50 before service charges.
New Band, New Tunes
When I get the infrequent phone call from local producer Hank Charles, I listen to what the man has to say. (After all, he has won the ABoT Music award for best producer three years running.) So when he called to tell me about a new band he just worked with, I had to check them out and so should you.
Kingsmill is a new quintet that serves as an outlet for brothers Andrew and Thomas Fraser with sister Sarah Fraser joining in on keys and vocals. Rounded out by bassist Aaron Simon and drummer Josh Reynolds (who has also played with Brandon Clark Band), the band marries Americana undertones with indie rock on its solid debut disc, Steel Wire Model.
The band hasn't played out many times, focusing more on completing its debut and building a solid repertoire to impress audiences from the start. The band is ready to start ramping up now and it all starts this Saturday, Dec. 3 with a CD release show at Crystal Pistol at 10pm. Get on board now and lay claim to being amongst the first to see them before everyone else clued in.
For One of our Own
Fassler Hall will be busy once again this Sunday night and it's all for good cause. This Sunday is a fundraiser and benefit for the family of Red Dirt icon Tom Skinner. It will be a who's who of local musicians and Red Dirt players with confirmed appearances by The Science Project, Wink Burcham, Dustin Pittsley Band, John Fullbright, Monica Taylor, Randy Crouch, Red Dirt Rangers, Mike McClure and Stoney LaRue -- although you know this will turn into a Red Dirt Family Reunion when even more show up on stage.
A minimum donation of $15 is requested at the door and all proceeds will go to the Skinner Family to help cover medical expenses form this year as well as set up and education fund for Tom's grandson, Flash. Skinner has been a staple of both the Tulsa and Red Dirt music scenes with his ongoing weekly Science Project and appearances with countless other artists, so now they're all gathering around him in support and you can too. This will be a can't miss evening for Red Dirt fans.
You might think things would slow down going into the holiday season, but that's never the case in Tulsa, is it? Go ahead and run yourself ragged with work and shopping: we've got the cheat sheet of highlights to help get you pointed out the door when you're ready to relax and enjoy a few tunes to wind down.
• Thursday, Dec. 1 -- Over the past few months, Blue Dome Diner has hosted a weekly Songwriter's Night and songwriting contest on Thursday evenings and this week is the season finale with ten songwriters trading songs and sharing their best. Cover is only $5 and the show starts at 7:30pm. Also on Thursday night, Jessie Torrissi & the Please Please Me returns to The Colony with Fiawna Forte opening the show for a night of "Girl Power" indie rock.
• Friday, Dec. 2 -- The night's big show is Puscifer (Maynard James Keenan's side project and solo outlet) at Te Brady Theater with Carina Round opening the show. Even if you follow Tool and A Perfect Circle, you haven't seen or heard Keenan like this if you haven't heard Puscifer.
Also on the calendar, Wolves plays Downtown Lounge with Who Knows Who (Dustin Howard); Moai Broadcast plays The Colony and Kenny Rogers is at The Joint. The night's best gig, however, is JD McPherson at Mercury Lounge, mixing honky tonk, rockabilly and old school grit.
• Saturday, Dec. 3 -- Carrie Nation and the Speakeasy returns to Mercury Lounge and RadioRadio takes over at Hunt Club once again while Lunar City, Digital Graffiti and Nikolas Kite cater to the indie crowd at Soundpony. Meanwhile, Mimosa and Vibesquad rock the Cain's Ballroom and you can't forget Kingsmill's CD release at Crystal Pistol.
• Sunday, Dec. 4 -- The weekend wraps up with a big night that includes the aforementioned Ugly Christmas Sweater concert with Rise Against, Cage the Elephant and Awolnation at Brady Theater and the Tom Skinner Benefit at Fassler Hall. The Naked & Famous also make a headline appearance at Bob's to keep things interesting.
• Monday, Dec. 5 -- Cain's Ballroom stays busy with Rachel Yamagata and Mike Viola while Wink Burcham holds down his weekly residency at The Colony.
• Tuesday, Dec. 6 -- Arguably the week's biggest and most anticipated concert arrives at Brady Theater when My Morning Jacket finally returns to Tulsa, for what should be a tour de force show encompassing southern rock, jam band aesthetic and psychedelia. Delta Spirit opens the show and tickets are still available, so go get your NOW.
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