Artist: Taylor Atkinson Band
Title: Too Much Whiskey
Taylor Atkinson is a Norman resident who grew up in Midwest City. His day job is as a firefighter for a small nearby municipality. Atkinson’s solid journeyman drums and guitar band play the flavor of country rock favored in area watering holes such as the Wormy Dog Saloon and Tumbleweed Concert Arena. It doesn’t take much imagination to envision Atkinson on TV’s "The Voice" getting a big old Okie hug from Blake Shelton. Atkinson’s vocals have a red dirt familiarity that’s comfortable as a pair of well-worn boots. His lyrics tread the traditional country and western territory of relationship break-up and liquor-fueled emotions. All these songs are about women folk. “Girl I’m leaving your town/ damn right I’ve got the pedal down,” he sings in tear stained “If I Was Wrong.” There’s no shortage of regret in this disc that’s somewhere between an EP and LP in length. There’s also no dearth of electric guitar heroics that give a good rock edge to stories of botched romance. Atkinson’s love life has evidently been painful but he’s found a sweet way to remove some of the sting. He’s a fireman who wants to burn your favorite saloon to the ground.
Artist: Chris Watson Band
Title: Last Train Home
EPs with only three or four songs tend to be infuriating in their brevity but this sets a new standard. A CD with only two songs may be a first. If the music was forgettable you could use it as a miniature Frisbee and sail it into the circular file. But that’s not the case. The sound on this maddening tease of a record is massive. Watson has a gifted voice that recalls Joe Cocker’s soul intensity. His six piece band includes saxophone, trumpet, trombone and organ along with the usual guitar, bass and drums. Some of the instrumental solos are transfixing. It’s an orchestral arsenal worthy of James Brown that weighs in with a miniscule ten minutes of playing time. “Hooked on You” is the appropriate name of the second song. It should be titled “Just One Little Taste (Is All You Get).”
Artist: Iron Bridge Band
Title: Road Not Taken
The dozen songs recorded here recall the 60s and 70s’ golden days of AM pop-rock radio in the sense that straightforward goodness is what attracts listeners. There’s mostly no question what any of the lyrics are about and they’re all rich with commercial potential. That comes from being unpretentious and not trying to impress the indie rock hipster faction. Iron Bridge Band play all-American rock 'n' roll in the vein of Bruce Springsteen and Tom Petty. Their music is all original. It’s composed by lead vocalist Chandler Mogel, guitarist Stephen Walsh and percussionist Scott Suky. Suky’s spouse Lanie on bass is the other half of the band’s rhythm section. This quartet is from the eastern seaboard and it’s reflected in their sophisticated musical sensibilities. There’s no trendy posturing just good, strong compositions played with rock solid delivery. Walsh’s guitar hooks are sharp but they don’t step on the vocals. “Road Not Taken” doesn’t have a title track but there is one called “Petticoat Road.” It has the only obscure lyrics in the bunch and could be the band’s “House of the Rising Sun.” The other songs are about women, love and life’s “Bittersweet” lessons. Iron Bridge Band was wise to tap the New York scene’s Jessie Wagner (Envy) for back-up vocals. She’s been compared to Merry Clayton who sang the unforgettably bone-chilling solo on the Rolling Stone’s “Gimme Shelter” way back in the day. Iron Bridge Band doesn’t play “easy listening” music in the conventional sense of the phrase but they’re certainly easy to listen to. Its modern adult rock in an un-ironic way that borrows from other generations of the genre but doesn’t sound dated. The band’s road album leads to a good aural journey.
Norman's own Taylor Atkinson
Chris Watson's 2-song disc.
Iron Bridge Band's sophisticated east coast rock.