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.
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.
Naming your band Jackie-O Motherfucker is the titling equivalent of
purchasing a license to record whatever the hell music you want, as far
as I and the Americana-experimentin’ Portland indie collective are
They’re kindred spirits to Waka Flocka Flame in that sense. And that sense only.
But enough teasing about Jackie-O’s name. Let’s tease them for recording a patience-trying album.
“Earth Sound System” contains a pair of tracks — one exactly seven minutes and eight seconds in length, and one sitting right at nine and a half — that might not even be music. They’re titled “Raga Joining” and “Raga Separating,” respectively, and are both experimental droners that don’t sound anything like … well, anything, really. They sound like what your typical layperson probably thought the inside of computers sounded like in 1987: lots of offbeat clicks and whirrs, and percussion instruments that bands often think are really funny.
The album marks a pretty stark difference from 1995 when the collective — it’s hard to call them a band when they’ve had more than 40 members over the years, only one of them constant — started out as a freeform jazz outfit. Their sound’s pretty clearly evolved into a rustic, psych-folk-type thing. Lots of finger-picking on the guitar that nicely comfits around Tom Greenwood’s dreary singing, which is basically an earthier, less-British take on Jason Pierce of Spiritualized. It’s lovely and comforting, like a big, sloppy St. Bernard licking at your face.
With this formula, “In the Willows” and “Dedication” both redeem the album’s title, but not “Earth Sound System” as a whole. It’s too spaced-out to be saved. —Matt Carney