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article by: Michael Canter

22 April 2012

CD Review - The Colony Presents: The New Tulsa Sound (Various Artists)

This is a unique collection. Truly.
~ Wilco


(Wink Burcham)

Release Date: 15-June-2010
Genre:  New Folk / Rock / Blues / Singer-Songwriter
Publisher: [c] 2010 Horton Records
Label: Horton Records.
Time: 01h 19m 03s
Review Date: 22-April-2012
Format: CD
Jivewired Press Kit: Not currently a Jivewired Member



Find it at:

Horton Records | iTunes | Amazon

Track Listing:

01. Palm Trees & Trailer Parks (featuring the Dustin Pittsley Band) 3:20
02. Forty-Eight (featuring The Paul Benjamin Band)  3:33
03. Dust Bowl (featuring Cecada) 3:57
04. Oh So Blue (featuring Beau Roberson of Pilgrim) 3:01
05. Irv (featuring Gogo Plumbay) 4:21
06. Ebeneezer (featuring The Panda Resistance) 5:40
07. Officer Down (featuring Refund Division) 4:44
08. Without You (featuring Jesse Aycock) 4:07
09. Gon' To Lay You Down (featuring Wink Burcham) 4:10
10. Always Home (featuring Whirligig) 6:28
11. Fall Fast (featuring Sage Flower) 3:56
12. Dog Days Comin' (featuring Cody Clinton and Desirae Roses) 2:43
13. Be Careful What You Ask For (featuring Phillip Zoellner Band) 3:57
14. Burning For Love (featuring Vandevander) 4:46
15. Image D93 (featuring Dead Sea Choir) 7:08
16. Forward Unto Dawn (featuring Stone Trio) 5:39
17. Live Again (featuring Travis Fite) 3:48
18. Bourbon & Lemonade (featuring Chris Lee Baker) 3:45

Review:

As stated in earlier reviews, I don't normally review record label compilation CDs because they are usually designated as "For Industry Use Only", intended or implied, and they serve that purpose well.  Record label compilations offer a decent sample size as to what's going on behind the scenes and for the most part, they are usually self-serving avenues with which to promote a variety of artists to increase record sales for each individual artist or favor peer notoriety.  There's nothing wrong with that from a listener's or consumer's standpoint.  Compilation CDs offer the best of all worlds, a way to discover a lot of new music without the tediousness of perusing mass quantities of individual music in a single sitting, and they are welcome additions to every record collection no matter your tastes.  But from a review standpoint it can be somewhat overwhelming.

That being said, when you come across a compilation with a lot of great music that eclectically spans a number of popular genres, one that's a true front-to-backer, it would be genuinely unfair not to put the word out.  Add to that the fact that on this compilation by Horton Records we are not just talking about one record label, but rather a magnificent sample of an entire region, and well, it is almost necessary to enlighten the masses.  On the strength of these first two paragraphs alone, you should just get the CD and start enjoying what's happening these days in Tulsa, OK, and in fact you can skip everything that comes next in this review in doing so.  But for those of you who need their morning juice before their breakfast, soldier on with me, as we take a look at this delicious compilation track-by-track.

  • P.S. - A front-to-backer is a personal description for an album with no burner-type throwaway songs, like Pearl Jam's "Ten" or Peter Gabriel's "So" , and is an expression that I picked up on my recent visit to Seattle.  Just so you know.

Strongest Songs:
(in no particular order as I am listening to this compilation in shuffle mode)
Bourbon & Lemonade by Chris Lee Baker, Forty-Eight by The Paul Benjamin Band, Be Careful What You Ask For by the Phillip Zoellner Band, Burning For Love by Vandevander,  Gon' To Lay You Down by Wink Burcham, Dog Days Comin' by Desi & Cody, Irv by Gogo Plumbay, Palm Trees & Trailer Parks by The Dustin Pittsley Band, Without You by Jesse Aycock and Oh So Blue by Paul Roberson of Pilgrim.

Okay - that's a lot of "strongest songs" and therefore, once again, well worth the price of admission.  Therefore I implore you, again, just go get it, download the digi-pak and if you want to continue on you can listen along with me.  Deal?  That makes it a virtual-world experience for both of us that you won't soon forget.

We can hardly wait for Volume 2.

Track 1 - Palm Trees & Trailer Parks by The Dustin Pittsley Band
I've met Dustin and on the surface he seems somewhat quiet and a bit reserved, so the big sound on Palm Trees & Trailer Parks was totally unexpected.  Pittsley's guitar solo is nearly nuclear, and it's that guitar that makes this song a repeat player.  There's also an ever-present funkified bassline that really juices up Palm Trees & Trailer Parks.  Pittsley is well on the way to national ubiquity if he keeps this up.

Track 2 - Forty-Eight by The Paul Benjamin Band
The wicked bass line opening is almost too much to take.  It's a perfect segue from the opening track on the CD so give credit to Brian Horton for an incendiary flow.  Forty-Eight is as funky, if not more so, as it's predecessor on the compilation and features tight instrumentation and perfect layering.  What a great, addictive arrangement.  One on the line, one on the hook -  it's a great start.

Track 3 - Dust Bowl by Cecada
A brooding, deeply dark track that manages to remain aurally beguiling.  There's traditional folk elements interspersed with an alt-country arrangement that can feel a little long at times but nonetheless a very good listen.  Fans of Son Volt and Uncle Tupelo will particularly like this song because it has a similar vibe.  Love the strings and the bridge.  You will too.  Three-for-three so far.

Track 4 - Oh So Blue by Beau Roberson of Pilgrim
I love this song, and I am telling you, there is something to be said about track order on a CD because if you listen to your favorite CDs, track #4 is almost always, without exception, one of the strongest tracks on every output.  The mood lifts and lightens here and Roberson's vocals are positively fierce.  What do I call this?  Maybe blues/folk is an apt description.  Vocals to the forefront, percussion and strings to the background, and again, an excellent bridge.  Roberson gets a little too strong vocally at times but I can forgive that because the song is so, so strong.  I bet it's great live.  A modern day, blistering bump-n-grind that I'm sure works as good horizontally as it does vertically and I'll leave it at that.

Track 5 - Irv by Gogo Plumbay
OK - I hear a tuba.  I think.  With a name like Gogo Plumbay you'd expect something eclectic and Gogo Plumbay doesn't disappoint.  There's elements of jazz, big brass and Latin infleunces layered against incendiary guitar and even more incendiary bass lines, and by the way, yes, that is a tuba.  The song drifts in many directions but Plumbay manages to contain it all perfectly into a nearly-stunning instrumental that oozes Miles Davis sexuality.  Irv goes great with a neat scotch and that tall, beautiful stranger checking you out from across the room. 

Track 6 - Ebeneezer by The Panda Resistance
Another instrumental and kudos on the segue from the previous track, once again.  Ebeneezer feels like soundtrack music, something you'd expect to hear as the credits roll after CSI: Miami or something.  Its definitely electronic in nature, and a distant descendant of late '80s Joe Satriani because of the added guitar.  What works is it's fight for the big crescendo in every measure and its mysteriously romantic vibe.  The song builds and builds and builds and, as mentioned,  incorporates above average guitar work into the mix to keep it fresh.  A song like this would probably never get radio airplay as it just doesn't fit any particular genre, maybe nu-jazz being it's closest, blood relative.  But it's still a wonderful listen, very summery with a perfect finish.

Track 7 - Officer Down by Refund Division
Officer Down fits in well with some of the more popular styles of music that get mainstream airplay these days, bands like Washed Out and M83 come to mind, because of the lush multi-layering and attention to fine detail within. As the song builds to its close it really hits the accelerator, packing the song with celestial synths and mounting strings, picking up the pace just enough to detract from its overall solemn feel and heartfelt storyline.

Track 8 - Without You by Jesse Aycock
Jesse's great and you need only one listen to Without You to collide with me head-to-head in full agreement.  Arguably the strongest track on this compilation, it features great pedal steel guitar and is a wonderful exercise in really good Americana songwriting.  Aycock adds great range vocally and a very polished arrangement, and the backing vocals are just beautiful.  I would think that had John Lennon ever ventured into the genre, you know, that Gram Parsons influenced roots rock, Without You or something very similar would have been the result.  It's that good.

Track 9 - Gon' To Lay You Down by Wink Burcham
Ahhh, Wink.  He'd probably never admit it, but behind the trucker hat, the overalls and the big bushy beard and shaggy hair, the man exudes cool in an unnoticeable, skewed-from-the-cool-norm sort of way.  His music does all the talking.  He's a storyteller, and his music tells really, really good stories.  Gon' To Lay You Down however is not so much a story as it is a slightly funky, blues and new folk masterpiece that grinds it out for three-plus minutes before the big finish kicks in.  There's a guitar lick at 3:29 right before that big finish that absolutely freezes the listener.  Simple, but knee-buckling. It's not flashy, but it's genuine and reliable and feels like home.  Just like Tulsa.

Track 10 - Always Home by Whirligig
Another great representation of the New Tulsa Sound in that it combines equal parts folk and rock with a little bit of down home country into a more than decent, aural amalgamation.   The guitar work transcends every other component of the song and the whole package settles in nicely behind. It's a good song without any true weakness, one of those songs that when you hear it you tell yourself that you should really listen to it more often.  It flies under the radar on this compilation but it really shouldn't.   Give it a few listens and it will certainly grow on you.

Track 11 - Fall Fast by Sage Flower
Sage Flower reminds me a little bit of Whitey Morgan and the 78's musically and lyrically.  There's true Americana in the songwriting and rebel alt-country in the structure of Fall Fast.  The lead guitar is the glue to the whole thing, and it is very good, even great a times, particularly in the bridge and on the fade.  That the guitar is its strength is not to insinuate that the rest of the track is weak by any means.  But play it loudly to absorb its intended effect and you'll see what I mean.

Track 12 - Dog Days Comin' by Desi & Cody
Dog Days Comin' features Cody Clinton with Desirae Roses on vocal accompaniment.  It's got a somewhat early British Invasion skiffle-like feel to it intertwined with an almost cosmic Americana arrangement that compares favorably to the Gram Parsons-Emmylou Harris sessions on GP and Grievous AngelDog Days Comin' finds the duo blending uptempo passion with detailed balance that portends to the ambitious vision that would eventually define the individuals as a legitimate duo musically.  The harmonies are impeccable and I imagine that after this recording there was this light bulb moment by all involved that screamed "damn, this REALLY works."  You can almost feel the smiles generated by the finished product.  Dog Days Comin' is a great song.

Track 13 - Be Careful What You Ask For by The Phillip Zoeller Band
Be Careful What You Ask For combines influences of Americana and true power pop into a wonderful, radio-ready portrait that is, plainly put, mesmerizing. It's Daughtry-like arrangement works well, and like most of the songs on this compilation, the guitar work on this track speaks volumes.  Speaking forthrightly, this song feels like its but a few inches from a major breakthrough.  That it's two years old means that's not likely to happen.  But for all intents and purposes it should. Call your local radio stations immediately.

Track 14 -  Burning For Love by Vandevander
A segue into the hardest rocking song on the compilation, you'll immediately be reminded of old school, mid-1970s Aerosmith, you know, when the band had enormous balls and made real American rock and roll music.  Burning For Love is loud and demands to be played loudly.  It's fiery, hard rocking guitars, impassioned vocals and driving back line will melt your audio system.  It's a truly great rock song and well worth the wait to get here all the way down on Track 14.  Seriously, Steven Tyler should listen to this so he can remember what it's like to be a visionary, musically speaking, rather than a mockery of himself.  Great song. Simply great.

Track 15 - Image D93 by Dead Sea Choir
Sliding somewhere between soft rock, new age and romantic pop, Image D93 is the type of song that expresses itself in deep and lush layering, utilizing as much of the production process as possible.  It's achingly and strikingly beautiful and a complete departure from anything else on this compilation.  Despite its complexity, it feels ultimately and genuinely human in that it can strike different chords and various emotions with the listener. If you like artsy bands like Destroyer and solemnly impassioned artists like Justin Vernon of Bon Iver, Dead Sea Choir will certainly appeal to your musical tastes.

Track 16 - Forward Unto Dawn by Stone Trio
Forward Unto Dawn is a trippy, jazz infused, down tempo instrumental with some serious percussive beats and ambient synths that is perfect for unwinding or perhaps soul searching.  By slightly picking up its measure mid-song, it works in much the same way as the human thought process, expounding on an idea almost to the point of getting ahead of itself, for example, before letting true intention control the pace.  Stone Trio does this several times throughout the song.  In that sense, it's alternately mood setting and mind altering music. 

Track 17 - Live Again by Travis Fite
Oozing in world beats and reggae rhythms, Travis Fite makes a bold statement in that I cannot imagine there are very many, similar sounding musical counterparts in the Tulsa area.  Like most music of this genre, it feels summery but with slight political/religious undertones.  What separates this song from typical reggae music is a driving, guitar-laced bridge that lays to waste the heavy bass structure of the rest of the song.  It's a slightly different take on the genre, and oddly appealing.

Track 18 -  Bourbon & Lemonade by Chris Lee Baker
Brian Horton closes The New Tulsa Sound compilation with a traditional, folk-inspired song by Chris Lee Baker.  Bourbon & Lemonade is a great hoedown of a song locked in its Vermontucky rhythmic and melodic structure and steeped in honest-to-goodness folk ambiance.  Its so traditional it may have been turn-of-the-century, western gold rush relevant or a hit among the Appalachian jug band family folk ensembles of the 1940s and 1950s had it been from either of those historical eras.  And that makes it work today because it honors its genre, traditions being what they are and all.

About The New Tulsa Sound and Horton Records:


For the love of music.  Pass it on.
Horton Records, LTD is a non-profit label based in Tulsa, OK. Our mission is to provide support and tools in terms of band management, promotion, booking, merchandising, and distribution in order to help local and regional musicians fulfill their artistic goals and further promote local and regional music on a broader scale.

Horton Records, LTD board:

President – Brian Horton Vice President – Brian Fontaine
Treasurer – Dylan Layton
Secretary – Christine Bizzell
Legal Consultant – Tomy McDonald


For more information or to make contributions to future projects, please check this page or contact: brian.horton@williams.com. Contributions can be tax deductible and will go towards recording, mixing, mastering, replicating, and distributing local and regional music, as well as help fund artist promotion and tours.

THE NEW TULSA SOUND is an amalgamation of styles and sounds that somehow works in a magical way with the common threads being quality musicianship and Tulsa.

The Colony presents: THE NEW TULSA SOUND is a compilation of established and emerging Tulsa artists. It's an amalgamation of styles and sounds that somehow works in a magical way with the common threads being quality musicianship, Tulsa, and The Colony.

The Colony is a live music venue sprinkled with history and lore that has created a platform for incubating new artists and fostering creative partnerships and artist combinations that continue to shape a unique sound. This compilation is a single snapshot in time of 18 artists that are submerged in this musical melting pot.

More to come....

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

another useless pen turned under-qualified online reviewer.

Mike from Jivewired.com® said...

And you base that on?