Some of the best albums and artists were born out of happy accidents owed to varying degrees of early suckage — the perfect note or chord for a song found by missing the one you are aiming for, failed mimicry of an idol bearing something entirely new and great instead.
The Tequila Songbirds have become just as beloved as about any group around these parts. And how could they not?
Featuring a revolving cast of the Sooner State’s most badass female performers, it’s a power hour of some of the best songwriting coming out of central Oklahoma. Sure, they might not technically be family, but they are clearly a band of sisters all the same, bonded by the same brand of whiskey running through their veins.
"Overproduced" is a term thrown around all too indiscreetly nowadays, usually applied when the thing that sticks out about a song or album is how it sounds rather than how it is constructed. Yet some of the most compelling albums ever crafted embodied a certain aesthetic that was just as skillfully and meticulously put together as any Bob Dylan or Miles Davis record — which is to say production is as crucial to our enjoyment of music as much as anything else; it's also the most overlooked.
Indie rock has been in a good place as of late. Not caring about being cool is the new cool, and a couple of dudes on guitar, bass and drums can make catchy, earworm songs without being armed to the gills with computer software and vintage synthesizers.
Every artist should be the star of their own creative life, which makes Kyle Reid’s steps out of the shadows of the many ensembles and supporting roles he has played in Oklahoma bands over the years to front and center on stage feel like a just journey.
Dave Koz, “Ultimate Christmas” If your idea of an “Ultimate Christmas” entails smooth jazz, you just hit the jackpot, tiger. Koz brings his soccer mom-seducin’ sax to a disc of 18 numbers that not only wants to cozy up to Christmas lovers, but also those more attuned to black-eyed peas and broken promises, what with two New Year’s tracks. He also courts the Jewish population with “Eight Candles (A Song for Hanukkah).” Ingredients should read “dextrose, maltodextrin and sucralose,” but hey, at least he’s not Kenny G.
“Christmas with the Chipmunks” Even without a new “Alvin and the Chipmunks” movie to tie to — in this year’s case, “Chipwrecked” — this 1961 album seems to get re-released annually, and 2011 is no exception. Who doesn’t love “The Chimpunk Song (Christmas Don’t Be Late)”? Then again, who does love any of the other 15 songs? Any toddler to grade schooler should enjoy it, but don’t give it to those whose parents are prone to migraines.
She & Him, “A Very She & Him Christmas” No self-respecting hipster’s holiday in ’11 will be complete without the sweet, sweet sounds of newly single “New Girl” Zooey Deschanel cooing Christmas chestnuts in his ear. Even those immune to her innumerable charms may be won over by her singing voice, both genuine and unique.
Highlights include the never-not-sexy “Baby It’s Cold Outside.” Remember when she sang that in “Elf”? While showering? Brrr ...
Frank Sinatra, “A Jolly Christmas from Frank Sinatra” I don’t know how “Jolly” this season is for a man who’s been dead for more than a decade, but there’s a reason this 1957 classic album keeps popping up in reissues: Because it’s great. They don’t call him the Chairman of the Board for nothing, and here, he belts out 14 standards that seem anything but, coming from his golden throat. Although very much a product of its happy-go-lucky era, it may never go out of style.
“A Blackwatch Christmas” Who’d’ve guessed the best Christmas album this year would be free? That’s “A Blackwatch Christmas,” stuffed to the breaking point with gems from local indie musicians. Colourmusic is in a rare “Sentimental Mood” and Ryan Lindsey wants to “Come Down Your Chimney,” but the highlight is the Beastie Boys-esque bundle of nonsense, Hector Comancho’s “Chris Cringle.” Download it at OKSee.
“Glee: The Music, The Christmas Album Volume 2” These “12 more holiday hits from the Glee Cast!” are as abhorrent as you’d expect. At least they tackled a couple of somewhat contemporary songs, with covers of The Waitresses’ “Christmas Wrapping” and Band Aid’s “Do They Know It’s Christmas?” (Somewhere, Bob Geldof weeps. And counts his money.) Still, this is essentially a karaoke CD, and if you buy it, you’re part of the problem.
Kenny Vance and the Planotones, “Mr. Santa”
Who are Kenny Vance and the Planotones? I didn’t know, either, but the New York-based band makes a decent first impression with “Mr. Santa,” a low-key affair so heavily influenced by the music of the 1950s and ’60s, you might mistake it for the music of the 1950s and ’60s. Don’t judge it by its poorly Photoshopped cover.