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Woody would pick ’er

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BEST IN ROCK
The Non

The Non describes itself as “experimental,” and obviously, its four members’ willingness to stretch boundaries has paid off. That the band does it without words — being instrumental — makes it all the more amazing, crafting melodic soundscapes that move listeners’ minds as they quicken the pulse — from 2007’s debut, “Paper City,” to the recent “Tadaima.” That means “I’m home” in Japanese, and we’re fortunate that our home of Oklahoma City is also The Non’s.

BEST IN POP
Brianna Gaither 

Brianna Gaither’s piano-based pop songs have an unusual depth to the songwriting, arrangement and lyrics. The tracks on the OKC songstress’s new debut album, “Love Is Patient,” have made many around the metro impatient to see and hear more from this young talent. With a tempered optimism powering her tunes, Gaither doesn’t fly a feminist flag or sell boy-crazy antics. Count us in, impatiently.

BEST IN FOLK
Samantha Crain

Shawnee is known for creating flour, not music-blog darlings, but the Crain dropped one off when the stork was on vacation. Samantha Crain’s emotive tunes have propelled her to real-world recognition in and out of the state, touring with national and international acts First Aid Kit, Murder by Death and Thao Nguyen. Her acoustic sound is occasionally fleshed out by her band, The Midnight Shivers, which are what you get when you hear her unique voice. 

BEST IN METAL
Rainbows Are Free 

Remember
all that recent online hoopla over the “double rainbow” video? We’re
more inclined to flip out over Norman’s men of metal, Rainbows Are Free.
The riffs behind RAF recall classic stoner rock of yesteryear, but with
a touch of the today. The band’s latest album, “Believers in Medicine,”
is out now on homegrown label Guestroom Records Records, and may be
just what Dr. Feelgood ordered to wake you the hell up.

BEST IN JAZZ
Jacob Fred Jazz Odyssey

As its name suggests, the Tulsa-based Jacob Fred Jazz Odyssey has taken listeners in unusual directions to interesting sonic destinations since its inception in 1994. That continues with the progressive quartet’s recent recording of a suite based on the historic Tulsa race riot of 1921, which it will premiere live in May. Think Michael Bublé has the balls to do that? (That’s rhetorical, but the answer’s still “no.”)

BEST IN BLUES
Blues Tiger Band

Blues
Tiger Band shows its stripes, bringing its Oklahoma-fried version of
bluesy rock to the metro’s masses. And those masses respond to Blues
Tiger Band’s energetic live shows with gusto. These aren’t “so that’s
why they call it the blues” blues. These are gritty, loud,
crowd-interactin’ blues that will take your breath away and make you
wanna pounce. Rawr!

BEST IN COUNTRY
Camille Harp 

Camille Guitar might be a better moniker for this OKC songwriter, as the six-string and strong vocals are the building blocks of her sound. She writes everything from drinkin’ honky-tonk to drinkin’ ballads. If you’re able to do something else while you’re listening to her riveting voice, you’re probably deaf. And we mean that, too, but in a nice way. *Hic!*

BEST IN RAP/ HIP-HOP
Jabee 

The 405 rapper Jabee is nothing if not prolific. Last December, he gifted the rhyme-hungry among us with his “Lucky Me” mixtape for free. Ever since, he’s filled our inbox with links to sweet new music on a regular basis. He calls the tracks “joints,” so smoke ’em if you’ve got ’em. Plus, anyone who appears on the cover of his album eating a bowl of Froot Loops is A-OK with us.

BEST IN R&B
Shortt Dogg

Shortt
Dogg’s soulful take on R&B never comes up short. The ninemember
band pulls off slinky, soulful R&B, as well as upbeat funk, smooth
jazz and more. Lead by bassist Johann Kimbro, the group’s tight sound
purrs and hums more than barks. With three- and four-part vocal
harmonies above the instruments, this pack knows how to beat the dog
days of summer: with cool songs.

BEST IN ELECTRONIC
Kite Flying Robot 

Behind
one of the most headscratching names in the metro lies subtle, smooth,
electronic-based tunes for this Tulsa/Oklahoma City group. But past the
Robot’s beats and keyboards exists a human heart of trumpet, violin and
more. Hey, robots have feelings, too, right? Even if they’re “Solid
Gold,” as this robot’s latest album was? Yes. Yes, they do.

BEST DJ
Crystal Vision

You’re
not blind to the truth if you can imagine yourself on the coasts during
a Crystal Vision set. The DJ duo’s bassheavy, wobbly tracks and remixes
fit in right on the edge of what’s happening in electronic music these
days. Things are looking up for the act, as it has a sweet gig at XIIIX
Lounge’s Robotic Wednesdays, a full lineup of remixes to its name, and a
WTF website at catspank.com. Here’s to hoping Crystal Vision tours with
Crystal Method, to up its profile while fostering confusion.

BEST COVER BAND
Hi-Def Howlers 

For more than 10 years, Oklahoma City’s Hi-Def Howlers have led many a
moonlit show at metro-area clubs, playing revered classics and of-thenow
hits to please pop-rock fans. That includes Beatles and Ramones to Cake
and Coldplay, with an original thrown in as well.

BEST EMERGING ACT
Ryan Lawson

Folk
fought the Law(son), and the Law(son) won. Lawson’s appearances at
Acoustic Oklahoma and Norman’s The Blue Bonnet went a long way toward
garnering a show at Austin, Texas’ South by Southwest music conference
last month. The solo artist lays down the law in his folk/country tunes
with a raw, passionate voice and a heavy strum. With an album on the
horizon and plenty of open mics to be cased, his 2012 could be even more
(insert obligatory police joke here).

BEST RECORD STORE
Guestroom Records

Try as the Internet might to kill the record store completely, a
handful still remains around town for those who like to get physical
(albums, that is). The indie hipster’s favorite, Guestroom Records, even
has two of them, with an original location at 125
E. Main in Norman, and the newer Oklahoma City one at 3701 N. Western.
From vinyl to CDs, Guestroom feels like the best basement hideout ever.
Bonus: Its logo is the ginchiest.

BEST LIVE MUSIC VENUE
ACM@UCO Performance Lab

Barely
half a year old, the ACM@UCO Performance Lab at 323 E. Sheridan already
has hosted the likes of The Mountain Goats, Dr. Dog, Wye Oak and none
other than rockabilly queen Wanda Jackson. Formerly the Bricktown club
Purely Sinful, the Lab doubles as a classroom to ACM@ UCO students, so
it serves purposes for education and entertainment. Not since peanut
butter bumped into chocolate, ladies and gentlemen …

BEST MUSIC INFORMATION SOURCE (OTHER THAN OKLAHOMA GAZETTE)
OklahomaRock.com

You
may have heard Ryan LaCroix spin the tunes of local bands on The Spy,
but you should read LaCroix cover them on OklahomaRock.com. Since 2003,
the Normanite has kept the Sooner sounds flag flying high with
near-daily news featuring MP3s, videos and more — all local, all the
time. Keep it up, ambassador!

PEOPLE’S CHOICE
Dr. Pants

The
people have chosen pants — Dr. Pants, that is. The OKC band can
prescribe you its brand of “nerd power groove rock,” which is promised
to “make your mixtapes & playlists better.” Take two of its
Weezer-esque power-pop tunes and don’t call in the morning. Pants is
probably busy shooting a video entirely on iPhone 4 (“Sarsaparilla
Girl”). At Pops in Arcadia, no less. Can these guys get any more
charming? No. But they’ll try.

NOW LET’S PARTY!
To
celebrate this issue and our Woody Award winners, we’ve planned a few
Soundcheck parties, and you’re invited! Come hear live music and have
the opportunity to win free Soundcheck shirts and other swag all night
long! Sponsored by Boulevard Brewing Co., the parties are scheduled for:
this Saturday, Wormy Dog Saloon, 311 E. Sheridan April 16, TapWerks Ale House & Cafe, 121 E. Sheridan April 30, Hi-Lo Club, 1221 N.W. 50th

For more information, call 528-6000.

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