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Nathan Poppe: The best 'Okie' albums of 2011

Other Lives, Broncho, John Moreland among selections for year's best music from Oklahoma
BY NATHAN POPPE For The Oklahoman Modified: December 22, 2011 at 11:34 am •  Published: December 22, 2011
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Editor's note: The following are Nathan Poppe's best ‘Okie' albums for 2011, as selected for Look@OKC.

1. “Earthbound Blues” by John Moreland (self-released)

Track five of John Moreland's stupendous album “Earthbound Blues” was enough to have me floored. The song is called “Ancient Youth,” and the slow-burning country tune propelled the Tulsa singer's album to become my favorite 2011 Okie release. “Youth” is so good that I explored the song at a molecular level. Strip away the song's electric guitars. Remove the stunning back up vocals from Ali Harter, Samantha Crain and Kelly Johnson. Forget about Choctaw-based producer Matt Street's stellar production values. What you have left is Moreland's heavy, raspy voice tenderly reflecting on the death of a friend he regretted losing touch with before his death. You won't find another Okie album this year containing the emotional punch and songwriting prowess of “Earthbound Blues.”

2. “Tamer Animals” by Other Lives (TBD Records)

There are few 2011 success stories in the music world that can dwarf the impact of Other Lives' “Tamer Animals.” The Stillwater quintet spent about 18 months building their sophomore album and wound up snagging an opening gig for indie heavyweight Radiohead. “Animals” is one part spaghetti western film score and two parts mystery novel. Why is it a mystery? Because it's so hard to believe Oklahoma is lucky enough to have this album made within its borders.

3. “Can't Get Past the Lips” by Broncho (self-released)

If I could elect a leader for the emergence of abnormally good punk music coming out of Norman then it would be Broncho. The band's debut clocks in at a brisk 20 minutes but good luck listening to songs such as “Try Me Out Sometime” and “I Don't Really Want To Be Social” just once. This feverish collection of punk tunes will leave you almost as bruised as the band's rowdy live shows.

4. “My _____ is Pink” by Colourmusic (Memphis Industries)

The sophomore album from everyone's favorite Stillwater/OKC/England-based rock act is a departure from Colourmusic's debut and all expectations I had for the band. Every track belches scuzzy, bombastic guitar sounds and an emphasis on strangeness. I like how brave it sounds, but I love how mean it is. “Pink” is the equivalent to a bully turning you upside down, holding your feet and shaking out your preconceived notions of rock music. Turn this one up and hold on.

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