This week's column offers a review of a trio of local artists ranging from outlaw country to hardcore punk/metal each Southwest Oklahoma bred.
Leading off with Ken Morrow & Hired Guns' upcoming release, "The Man That's Lost His Way," I can only say that it's a misleading title. With this offering, you're listening to a singer/songwriter finding the confidence to make his way. And he's doing it his way.
Backed by Wil Jones on bass and Robert Comes Jumping From His Horse on the drums, Morrow has put together a sweet package. I can only describe his style as 1974-era Waylon Jennings backed by Double Trouble, but still original at the same time.
The edge felt with the grinding title track is as bold an artist statement as you can make. For a man who's never drunk or even smoked a cigarette, Morrow's lyrics drip with an outlaw's truth. "Johnny, Jack and Beam" offers an up-tempo blueprint for his sound with its distinguished Telecaster guitar notes over a locomotive-type rhythm.
Morrow's love for traditional country offers reason to take the new school to task with the live favorite, "Kenny Chesney Come on Over (I'd love to kick your a**)." One listen and, if you've got a sense of humor, you'll be putting on your boots for scootin' and other purposes pretty quick.
"Let's Get Crazy When the Sun Goes Down" offers a perfect merging of influences. Opening with a plaintive, traditional country ballad, this song kicks into gear and, though Morrow lives clean, he writes about those who get a little loose (like an embedded reporter).
Among the tracks pending for the new disc, a cover of "Midnight Rider" is a favorite. It takes this classic into a deeper direction. Beginning with an almost dirge, the ode to outlaw livin' takes on a hyper-celebratory energy as the second verse rolls in. Included is audio from an HBO-documentary from the 1990s that features Morrow's mom and his late brother Danny talking about his criminal life while he's in prison.
Morrow is busy finishing the CD for a hopeful late-April release. You can learn more from his Facebook and Reverbnation pages and a new web page is under construction at www.kenmorrow.biz.
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The JuJu Beans' new offering, "Rocket Machine," is a rip-roaring rocket ride with a heavy emphasis on the rock. The lead-off track, "That's How It Goes," is a straight-ahead roots rocker that would've inspired Bill Haley if he'd heard it first. "Silver Train" has a honky tonk-meets-Jan & Dean vibe that makes for infectious listening.
"One Time Lover and a Full Time I.O.U." is a groovy rave-up a la Buddy Holly-cum-George Thorogood and flows great into the next track, "Rock and Roll Tonite." Arguably the coolest track on the disc, I dare you not to tap your foot while this song's playing. Uncle Dave and the crew channel The Cars and The Beatles for the uber-catchy "Shuffle Down."
The closing track, "Love Bone," is a full-tilt rock/punk raver that kicks in and doesn't let up. Fun, furious, witty and wonderful, The Beans know how to close out a set. "Rocket Machine" amounts to a mountain of magic for these Beans.
You can get the CD in digital format via the band's webpage, thejujubeans.com, or its Facebook or Reverbnation pages.
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Lawton's In Honor has its newest EP "Foundations" ready for listeners. It's a marked growth in this young group's journey. "Haunted" features Thought Crime's Ethan Blasdel and blisters with precision percussive rhythms that showcase the unit. The title track features Mouth of the South's Josiah Lyle and is a sonic muscle flex for this local powerhouse.
Bordering on thrash metal, "Defiance" displays a young group finding influence in older styles. Clocking in at just under three minutes, "Framed" gets a lot accomplished at a rapid pace and is sure to be a live favorite. The album closer, "Widow," fills the speakers with harrowing thoughts before the percussive verses kick in like a Panzer division in top form.
The EP shows a lot of growth and discipline for In Honor. You can pick up a copy at live shows or contact the band through its Facebook and Reverbnation pages.
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In an attempt to drop the "dead weight" of being one of many, a local favorite has changed its name. Guitarist Ryan McGowan made the following announcement Tuesday night via the Deadweight Facebook page: "Because there are 140,000 other bands called Deadweight, my band has changed our name to Grel."
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Many of you remember reports of Lamb of God singer Randy Blythe's plight regarding manslaughter charges in the Czech Republic. Blythe was acquitted of the charges Tuesday following a not guilty verdict by a jury. Blythe had been detained in June 2012 for his alleged involvement in the death of 19-year-old fan Daniel Nosek as the result of a fall from the stage at a 2010 concert. Blythe offered the following statement: "I am a free man ... Please remember the family of Daniel Nosek in your thoughts and prayers in this difficult time. I only wish for them peace. Thank you for your support."