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Philip Zoellner Band puts away piano, turns up guitars

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Marked by crisp vocals, tight and efficient melodies, and solid songwriting, power pop is the benchmark for mainstream rock. Tulsa trio The Philip Zoellner Band is on its third album of sharp and shrewd rock, and the act's latest offering, "I Love Jets," is soaked to the bone with a world-weary weaving of American rock and alt-country.

The 12-song disc brings to mind pop icons like Tom Petty and "Gold"-era Ryan Adams. The group will perform songs from the new album at a CD release show 9:30 p.m. Friday at DrinkZ in Bricktown. 

Breaking from Zoellner's tradition of self-producing, the band recorded "I Love Jets" at Analog 2.0 Studios, a high-end facility hidden in a northwest Oklahoma City business park. The studio is co-owned by Brad Heinrichs, a former member of Stillwater power-pop outfit Wakeland, which courted mainstream audiences in the 1990s.

HEARTY DOSES OF YEARNING HEARTACHE
The group's studio splurge has paid off. "I Love Jets" is polished from beginning to end. By equipping its songs with hearty doses of yearning heartache, the band takes a distinctive turn toward alt-country. 

"Be Careful for What You Ask" is a howling lament about a self-destructive personality incapable of changing for love. Stark and slow, the song leans on Zoellner's quavering vocals and confessional lyrics, and offers an interesting contrast to the apologetic gospel track, "Mercy on My Soul."

The title track is a swelling ode to the detachment of road life, and "AAA" is a rollicking rock song that is a testament to the band's stated commitment to making "I Love Jets" a guitar record, as opposed to the group's previous piano-driven release, "Right on Time."

Zoellner said it was Heinrichs who urged him to explore more guitar-focused melodies, and to that end, Cody Canada of Cross Canadian Ragweed sat in on some "Jets" sessions to help with guitar tracks.

Zoellner admitted to a finicky taste in music, which serves him well in the studio, and "I Love Jets" is a good example of what power pop is supposed to sound like. "Charles Martin

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