After starting out in the punk scene, Oklahoma singer-songwriter John Moreland decided it was best to start writing about himself. That attitude, and a new Americana sound, helped lend depth and honesty to his new album, High On Tulsa Heat. Moreland's World Cafe session is one of the most unexpectedly beautiful in a while.
Karen Dalton's career was built on covering the songs of others. Patty Griffin writes songs that others famously cover. Both artists are considered masters of their respective crafts by their peers, but neither is a household name. Each has a voice that sounds like it couldn't possibly be made by the person making it.
"Let's get heavy," Other Lives frontman Jesse Tabish jokes before launching into an explanation of the dichotomies behind the band's new album, Rituals. Conflating old and new styles, while also exploring the balance between humanity's primal nature and an isolating modern world, the Portland-via-Stillwater, Okla., band's densely layered songs still somehow seem light and airy.
Rituals isn't the product of a group going through the motions, either: The group just pared itself down from five members to three (both Josh Onstott and Jonathon Mooney remained and relocated with Tabish), but this is Other Lives' most adventurous set of songs to date. To bring that rich sound to life, the band packed the small KEXP live room with all kinds of instruments — horns, strings, keys, drums, timpani, vibraphone, you name it — for a sensational in-studio performance.
The Oklahoma Historical Society celebrates the launch of 46 Star Records tonight at the Oklahoma History Center in Oklahoma City. Their first release will be unearthed radio sessions of Bob Wills & His Texas Playboys on 180-gram vinyl records.
You’re hearing a restored version of a 1949 radio recording of “There’ll Be Some Changes Made” by western swing pioneers Bob Wills & His Texas Playboys. It’s one of 12 songs included on Let’s Play, Boys, a compilation of rediscovered songs from the personal transcriptions of Bob Wills.
This week's World Cafe: Next artist, John Moreland, is an Americana singer-songwriter from Oklahoma who just released his second album, High On Tulsa Heat.
Before turning to songwriting, Moreland was in a metal band; nowadays, though, his work channels a deep well of emotion and pain. In this segment, you can hear two of his songs, which can also be downloaded here.
Every month, NPR Music asks public radio personalities around this country to name a new favorite song and then we feature one of those songs on Morning Edition.
Other Lives left their hometown of Stillwater, Oklahoma two years ago and relocated to Portland, Oregon to record the follow-up to 2011's Tamer Animals. In an exhaustive search for a new musical identity, the band wrote more than 60 prospective songs for their latest album, Rituals. If the lead single, "Reconfiguration," is any indication, the change of scenery did them some good. Like many of their previous efforts, "Reconfiguration" features rolling piano arrangements and lush production, but gone are the obvious folk influences and the echoey sonic imagery of wide open spaces. Moodier and smoother than its earthy predecessors, "Reconfiguration" showcases Jesse Tabish's sultry singing, which is more emotive than on past recordings. And this time around, the echo chamber is reserved for a haunting backing chorus that would give listeners the creeps if the overall arrangement weren't so damn sexy. —Jerad Walker, opbmusic