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with Mrs. Shelton? All I know is that “Red River Blue” is no “Blake Shelton’s Barn & Grill,” the 2004 album that really caught my attention. Listen to the history-making, monster single “Honey Bee.” It’s catchy in its own way. “You’re this, I’m that” phrasing and a references to Loretta Lynn and Conway Twitty’s 1973 hit “Louisiana Woman, Mississippi Man.” It will feel like 1980 with the urban cowboy, Don Williamsstyled “Ready to Roll,” with its fat bass line and sing-a-long, beers-in-the-air chorus. It’s a good summer song and one of the best on the album. But then the sappy ballads roll around — stuff like the saccharine “God Gave Me You” or the poppy “Drink On It.” Or cringe-worthy songs like “I’m

Sorry,” geared toward his female fans, I suppose. I don’t know what it is, but Shelton doesn’t shine as much on these sorts of slow songs. But sometimes he does. The sensitive title track, with a tasteful acoustic flavor and vocals shared with Lambert, simply works well. This is not to be confused with the Luke Olson song of the same name. But back to Shelton’s strengths. It’s the songs like the dobro-heavy “Good Ole Boys,” where Shelton laments the current lack of manners and fashion sense among the population and the lack of “good ole boys.” Fans of Waylon Jennings and Hank Williams Jr. will respond well to this outlaw-style track. It was interesting to note that on the rowdy, Shelton-riffic “Get Some,” one of the co-writers is Zac Maloy, former member of The Nixons, the Oklahoma City band that hit big in mid-90s with grunge-lite songs like “Sister.” Good to see Shelton is giving fellow Okies some work. “Red River Blue” is a mixed bag. If it had left off the schmaltz and been released as an EP — a successful move in the recent past — it would have been a far better release. — Andrew W. Griffin

sonic palette, expanding to include country rockers and an off-kilter folksy blues number. Serengeti — “Family & Friends”: Looking for listening pleasure in all the wrong downloads? Try Serengeti’s witty and detailed narration. This is matchmaking, hip-hop style. Serengeti’s style is fresh and unexpected, not solely because of his range of subject matter but also regarding the variety in his vocal delivery. Musically, he travels an expansive field, including folk, boom bap, dance, disco, rock and indie pop. Ricky Skaggs — “Country Hits: Bluegrass Style”: After a stellar country career in the ’80s that saw Skaggs rocket to the

top of the country charts with hit after hit while acting as one of the prime figures in the New Traditionalist movement, he returned to his bluegrass roots in the 1990s with Kentucky Thunder and his own label, Skaggs Family Records. Now he brings that bluegrass instrumentation to some of his biggest ’80s country hits in a set of crackling reinterpretations of old favorites. Big Talk — “Big Talk”: Killers drummer Ronnie Vannucci sets down the sticks to take center stage on his rocking solo debut. Vannucci proves his vocal chops and multi-instrumental abilities on this outing. —

“Red River Blue” Warner Bros (2011)

White Denim “D” Downtown Music (2011)

This is the new LP by an Austin-based rock guitar quartet comprised of 20-something white guys, half with scraggly beards who wear blue denim, Tshirts and boots. Some of that is known from attending their concert on OU’s art museum lawn June 4. Their live concert sound was perfect for a warm spring evening outdoors. White Denim’s studio music is polished and reminiscent of what’s found playing on classic rock stations anywhere in America. The very first track “It’s Him!” is like taking a spin with Steppenwolf’s soul grandchildren. Exuberant percussion, soaring vocals and intricate guitar riffs fade into an imaginary California sunset. “River to Consider” sounds like they brought jazz flautist Herbie Mann back from the great beyond for one more solo. White Denim’s willingness to experiment works well throughout this album. A couple of tracks stand on the precipice of noodling for too long but never stumble into the abyss of tedium. Harmonized vocals, tambourine and galloping guitar on “Drug” display their psychedelic side that all the cool kids are buzzing about. “Bess St.” continues the shimmering jazz/rock fusion that is a welcome sonic resurgence. White Denim’s music is unlikely to fade in intensity, even after repeated listening. — Doug Hill



Oklahoma is becoming increasingly known as the home to a lot of entertainers, particularly musicians — and more specifically, folks in country music. Ada-native Blake Shelton is no exception. For a decade now, Shelton, now living in Tishomingo with his country star wife Miranda Lambert, has been releasing hit after hit on country radio. With his latest, “Red River Blue,” Shelton has offered up a full-fledged album (11 songs) compared to his past two EP’s, “Hillbilly Bone” and “All About Tonight.” The album is pretty standard Nashville fare with a few standout songs written by some of the best Music City has to offer. A who’s who of “Nashville Cats” provide appealing, accessible riffs and musical flair. It’s even produced by top-notch Oklahomanative and producer Scott Hendricks (Faith Hill, Alan Jackson, Brooks & Dunn). But is that enough? Is Shelton spending too much time as a judge on “The Voice” or back at the southern Oklahoma ranch

THE RIFF REPORT They Might Be Giants — “Join Us”: They Might Be Giants has finally taken a break from writing kids’ songs and in the form of “Join Us” have created an album for the parents — their first “adult” record since 2007’s “The Else.” With “Join Us,” you get 19 songs that veer wildly all over the map, but still carry They Might Be Giants’ stylistic hiccups and oddball lyrics. Imelda May — “Mayhem”: Imelda May’s third record was originally released in the U.K. last year, spawning an impressive four singles. U.S. listeners can expect to enjoy May’s trend of increasing confidence and verve in the context of a broadened

Friday, July 22, 2011

Black Canyon “Battlefield Darlins” Independant (2011)

Oklahoma folk band Black Canyon surprised the music scene this week by releasing early their new album, “Battlefield Darlins.” The album, spawned from lead singer Jake Morisse’s rural upbringing, shows that country is still cool and that just because you’re southern doesn’t mean you’re a hick. The album features seven songs that tell the story of two lovers torn apart by the Civil War. With female vocals provided by the fantastic Sherree Chamberlain, you can almost hear the initial love and the lasting longing in the two character’s words. The album’s story, begun with songs of love and hope, spinning the tale of a shotgun wedding, quickly turns beautifully somber as he marches off to war. In song “Letters of Blood, Banjos of Hope” Morisse sings “The captain says hold no regrets for the souls that you’ve taken/See the reverend as he does/The gunshots keep me up at night as I’m thinking of you/I can’t find my way to sleep.” It would be easy for an album dealing with such dark subject matter to slip into becoming very one-dimensional or heavy-handed. Black Canyon manages to present the idea of Civil War lovers without sledgehammering the subject to death. In fact, throughout the entire album, it’s never stated whether Morisse’s character is fighting for the north or the south, simply that he’s fighting. Morisse said he did this on purpose, as he wanted to to remain a love album, not an album about politics. The album can be bought online at for $7. Black Canyon will also host a CD release party with Ryan Lawson and Blue Valley at 9:30 p.m. Aug. 19 at VZD’s in Oklahoma City. — Kendall Brown, POP Editor

pop - Jul 22, 2011