Wednesday 30 Jul
 
 

Sobering sounds

Copperheads with Depth & Current, Dudes of America and Oblivious

10 p.m. Saturday

Opolis

113 N. Crawford Ave., Norman

opolis.org

447-3417

$7

07/30/2014 | Comments 0

Pony expression

Wild Ponies

8 p.m. Sunday

The Blue Door

2805 N. McKinley Ave.

bluedoorokc.com

524-0738

$15

07/30/2014 | Comments 0

Music Made Me: Josh Hogsett

Few, if any, Oklahoma bands have seen a rise as meteoric as Tallows over the past year, yet its seemingly overnight ascension didn’t happen by chance. The Oklahoma City four-piece is well-versed in the ways of modern pop songwriting, drawing from both glitchy electronica and cathartic indie rock in equal measure. Last year, the band pulled off a rare musical feat with its debut album, Memory Marrow, which was steeped heavily in the breadth of recent history yet managed to sound like nothing else before it.
07/30/2014 | Comments 0

Planting the seed

Chelsey Cope’s new band, Elms, is as earthy and native to Oklahoma as the trees that are their namesake. The soulful folk four-piece’s debut EP, Parallel Lines, was recorded at Bell Labs Recording Studio in Norman and is on its way in September. But the band has already given us a tease, with its first single, “Burn,” going live on SoundCloud on July 14.
07/22/2014 | Comments 0

Commercial rock

Center of the Universe Festival featuring Capital Cities, Young The Giant, AWOLNATION & more
Friday-Saturday
Downtown Tulsa 
centeroftheuniversefestival.com 
$35-$50 

07/22/2014 | Comments 0
Home · Articles · Reviews · Folk · Chris Bathgate — Salt Year
Folk
 

Chris Bathgate — Salt Year


He's in the ring with folk's heavy hitters, but he's not a knockout yet

Stephen Carradini April 26th, 2011

Close your eyes. Clear your mind. Turn on Chris Bathgate’s “Salt Year.” Let it wash over you. Don’t think about it — just do it.

chrisbathgate

It’s a mellowing experience, one that makes a sleepy day seem bearable. The folky tunes don’t have an underlying layer of misery that marks Bon Iver’s output, and that’s all the better for just watching life go by on a lazy afternoon.

If you’re lazy, you can just put “No Silver” on repeat and drift away. It’s one of the best songs I’ve heard all year, regardless of genre; all the pieces (vocals, lyrics, acoustic guitar, bass, strings, mandolin, drums) fit together perfectly to create a jaw-dropping experience.

But if you start to dissect “Salt Year,” it will let you down. Other than the immaculate “No Silver,” the rest is a pastiche of all the best attributes of indie folk’s last 10 years. It wouldn’t be a problem if “No Silver” didn’t have so much personality; I could just chalk the album up to a beautifully completed paint-by-numbers exercise. But Bathgate has real songwriting skill (or lightning in a bottle, but I feel it’s the former), so I’m not just glossing it over.

Bathgate does owe a debt to Bon Iver’s Justin Vernon for the sparse, icy moods (“Fur Curled on the Sad Road,” “Borders”), but he also owes Iron & Wine’s Sam Beam for the fuller arrangements he creates (“In the City,” “Own Design”). Fans of Ray LaMontagne will hear flashes of his songwriting here (“In the City,” the title track).

The only other place where Bathgate creates more than the sum of his parts is “Everything (Overture),” where the optimism of his I&W part tempers the sparseness of his Vernon-esque ability, and LaMontagne’s emotiveness is applied over the resulting tension. He inhabits the same mood that “No Silver” built, and that’s a winner. “Levee” also has charms, especially in the unique drum work.

I know it’s hard to write a batch of consistently amazing songs, but when tunes like “No Silver” and “Everything (Overture)” put you in conversation next to the heavy hitters, you’ve got to back that up. “Salt Year” definitely places Bathgate in the ring, but he’s got some growing to do before he’s connecting with more than the occasional haymaker. Still, he’s not doing local fights anymore, either. —Stephen Carradini

 
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