Crown Imperial
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Crown Imperial

Norman, Oklahoma, United States | INDIE

Norman, Oklahoma, United States | INDIE
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"OK See in 2011"

OKSee in 2011: 40 honorable-mention albums

Let’s look back at the year in music: part 4.
By Matt Carney
December 22nd, 2011
My OKSee predecessor, Stephen Carradini, and I received hundreds of physical copies submitted to our little cubicle in the back of the Gazette offices this year, in addition to the hundreds of digital solicitations from PR companies, in addition to the occasional, much-appreciated, personal hand-changing of musical media, be that CD, vinyl or yes, even cassette tape.

It’s a ton of music to listen to, but we were up to the task. The sonic wheat’s now sorted from the chaff, and not in any particular order. So peruse our list for those quality albums you may have missed, recall a few you’ve forgotten and hopefully even find a new artist to love in the process. Let’s get started.

1. Fucked Up — “David Comes to Life”

2. The Pains of Being Pure at Heart — “Belong”

3. Matt the Electrician — “Accidental Thief”

4. Horse Thief — “Grow Deep, Grow Wild”

5. Kurt Vile — “Smoke Ring for My Halo”

6. Beetyman — “The Underdog”

7. Youth Lagoon — “The Year of Hibernation”

8. Neon Indian — “Era Extraña”

9. The Drums — “Portamento”

10. Wilco — “The Whole Love”

11. Laura Marling — “A Creature I Don’t Know”

12. Yuck — “Yuck”

13. Icona Pop — “Nights Like This EP”

14. Ryan Lawson and the Hack & Saw Nation — “Hack and Saw Nation”

15. Riley Jantzen — “Feathers”

16. The Workweek — “Promises, Promises”

17. Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks — “Mirror Traffic”

18. Small Sur — “Tones”

19. Wye Oak — “Civilian”

20. The Roots — “undun”

21. Crown Imperial — “Crown Imperial”

22. The Damn Quails — “Down the Hatch”

23. Zach Winters — “They Were Longing for a Better Country”

24. Twin Sister — “In Heaven”

25. St. Vincent — “Strange Mercy”

26. The Weeknd — “House of Balloons”

27. Kanye West & Jay-Z — “Watch the Throne”

28. Washed Out — “Within and Without”

29. Givers — “In Light”

30. tUnE-yArDs — “w h o k i l l”

31. Manchester Orchestra — “Simple Math”

32. Josh Sallee — “Return to Sender”

33. Kite Flying Robot — “Solid Gold”

34. Death Cab for Cutie — “Codes and Keys”

35. Chris Bathgate — “Salt Year”

36. Smith Westerns — “Dye It Blonde”

37. Danny Brown — “XXX”

38. Destroyer — “Kaputt”

39. A$AP Rocky — “LIVELOVEA$AP”

40. Cut Copy — “Zonoscope”

- OK Gazette

"Live Show Review"

Posted by pocketvenus17 on December 12, 2011 · Leave a Comment
Friday, December 2nd – Sundae Records Presents Showcase
Live Show Review
By Abra Gist
Things really got off to a slow start at 29th ST ballroom at Spiderhouse. The scene was strange and I almost thought we were at the wrong place when I saw a group of nicely dressed lads and ladies laughing and telling lewd stories onstage. Had we stumbled into an open mic college night?
No, apparently these folks were hijacking band time and reliving their old fraternity and sorority days. Ewww, Lame. So unfortunately it set back the entire show we were there to see.
Once things did get going, the first band Eets Feats took the stage and proceeded to get things rolling yet technical difficulties plagued the band. Eets Feats is a three-piece from San Antonio but now live and play in Austin. They have a surfer rock punk vibe going on and a lot of their tunes were instrumental, which I really dug. There was a ton of reverb, static sounding guitars, and heavy treble.
The vocals were indistinguishable dribbling into the microphone but in a good way. Their songs had names like “Night of the Amoeba”, “Weed Bums”, and “Beach Daze”; I wish there had been an ocean and waves to catch. They all take turns playing each others’ instruments and switch off singing. Which is cool and different but something always seemed to not work after a change up.
Just when I was getting into a song the guitar or bass or a pedal would cut out, and it just distracted me. Maybe if they’d had more time to set up, or perhaps the stage had been bigger to accomodate all the moving, things would have gone more smoothly. Nevertheless, after revisiting their music on the web, I felt they were slighted because of the situation and I should try to see them again. Here’s a link to more info on them and a few songs.
Palit played after Eets Feats and they had more of an indie rock pop neo jam band sound. As they took the stage the lead singer, Lance introduced the band into their telephone microphone, “Hi, we are Palit and we came here to make friends.”
They connected with the crowd right away and had the audience bumping to their tripped out tunes. Their songs are catchy and they seemed to share these secret smiles and jokes to one another without using words.
They also suffered some setbacks with their equipment but they kept on playing and shrugged off any hinderances. Check out their bandcamp for their full album Popt.
Here are some tracks I wanted to share:

The third band up that night was Literature. These guys got me off the barstool and dancing. Their jangle pop songs were short, fast, upbeat and they rolled through them nonchalantly as they chatted up the audience between songs. They played as though they had been doing it for decades. The energy of the show completely changed once they played out their tunes. I was all smiles as the two guitar players took turns singing and exchanging riffs. This band is lively for sure and you should try to catch a show if they are in your neighborhood. You know where to check em out:

Crown Imperial, from Norman, OK was the jewel of this royal engagement. I was so mesmerized by this group as soon as they began. As you can see in the photos from that night, there was a crimson haze that seemed to float in the air as they played. If you had been there you would have seen it dissipate into a violet cloud. The lighting just added to the ambiance of the evening, and there was something regal about this occasion indeed given the recent release of Crown Imperial’s new album.
Crown Imperial has such a clean sound, it’s part 80s new wave, vintage bubblegum pop, and/or surfer rock; you can tell these people love playing together. Their music clings to your earlobe demanding your head to nod, your hips to sway, and your feet will follow their tune to a pink and orange sunset. I could not believe how amazing both the main vocalists were. I was smitten with them both, and then when the drummer AND bass player showed off their singing chops, I was just dazzled. There are some things about music that I cannot describe and while watching these guys it was like any negativity just melted away. It was so late by this time too but the crowd lingered and danced into the wee hours of the next day.

This band = talent and it falls like rubies from a royal crown. Okay okay sorry about all the regal references, but I am seriously crowning them one of my favorites of 2011!
Lots more music out there to see and hear. Thank you, bands, for all you do.
- Atom Music Press

"Best "okie" albums 2011"

Nathan Poppe: The best 'Okie' albums of 2011
BY NATHAN POPPE For The Oklahoman Comments 0
Published: December 22, 2011
Editor's note: The following are Nathan Poppe's best ‘Okie' albums for 2011, as selected for Look@OKC.

MUSIC / GROUP / BAND: Other Lives

1. “Earthbound Blues” by John Moreland (self-released)
Track five of John Moreland's stupendous album “Earthbound Blues” was enough to have me floored. The song is called “Ancient Youth,” and the slow-burning country tune propelled the Tulsa singer's album to become my favorite 2011 Okie release. “Youth” is so good that I explored the song at a molecular level. Strip away the song's electric guitars. Remove the stunning back up vocals from Ali Harter, Samantha Crain and Kelly Johnson. Forget about Choctaw-based producer Matt Street's stellar production values. What you have left is Moreland's heavy, raspy voice tenderly reflecting on the death of a friend he regretted losing touch with before his death. You won't find another Okie album this year containing the emotional punch and songwriting prowess of “Earthbound Blues.”
2. “Tamer Animals” by Other Lives (TBD Records)
There are few 2011 success stories in the music world that can dwarf the impact of Other Lives' “Tamer Animals.” The Stillwater quintet spent about 18 months building their sophomore album and wound up snagging an opening gig for indie heavyweight Radiohead. “Animals” is one part spaghetti western film score and two parts mystery novel. Why is it a mystery? Because it's so hard to believe Oklahoma is lucky enough to have this album made within its borders.
3. “Can't Get Past the Lips” by Broncho (self-released)
If I could elect a leader for the emergence of abnormally good punk music coming out of Norman then it would be Broncho. The band's debut clocks in at a brisk 20 minutes but good luck listening to songs such as “Try Me Out Sometime” and “I Don't Really Want To Be Social” just once. This feverish collection of punk tunes will leave you almost as bruised as the band's rowdy live shows.
4. “My _____ is Pink” by Colourmusic (Memphis Industries)
The sophomore album from everyone's favorite Stillwater/OKC/England-based rock act is a departure from Colourmusic's debut and all expectations I had for the band. Every track belches scuzzy, bombastic guitar sounds and an emphasis on strangeness. I like how brave it sounds, but I love how mean it is. “Pink” is the equivalent to a bully turning you upside down, holding your feet and shaking out your preconceived notions of rock music. Turn this one up and hold on.
5. “Grow Deep, Grow Wild” by Horse Thief (self-released)
Think of Horse Thief's debut album as a war cry. Namely, the standout track “Warrior.” It's a four-minute psychedelic folk trip that explores the beauty of Oklahoma and the power of the human mind. More than anything, it's a testament to how good a local release can sound and a refreshingly smart album full of detailed stories fit for a best-selling novel.
6. “Depth & Current” by Depth & Current (Nice People)
Norman's shoegaze powerhouse released a spooky gem so scary and booming that it can't help but shake the shingles off of your neighbor's roof.
7. “Signs and Signifiers” by JD McPherson (Hi-Style)
Tulsa's JD McPherson successfully re-creates and revives rockabilly songs so fresh that it makes the '50s jealous.
8. “Crown Imperial EP” by Crown Imperial (Sundae Records)
This EP is not only a taste of the band's Velvet Underground/Cure infused potential but also it's a tease of what could be an incredible full-length album.
9. “O You, Stone Changeling” by Brine Webb (self-released)
Brine Webb released a collection of moody ballads that act like heartfelt farewells. Once they end, it's not always easy to shake off the final impression. Good thing you won't want to either.
10. “World War Fun” by The Boom Bang (Nice People)
The beachy fun of a California surf rock band and the crunchy sounds of a New York garage act found a happy Oklahoma home in the form of The Boom Bang's full-length debut.
Honorable Mentions
“Great Western Civilization” by Modern Rock Diaries (self-released)
“Hack & Saw Nation” by Ryan Lawson (self-released)
“Awakening” by The Pretty Black Chains (self-released)
“Chrome Pony EP” by Chrome Pony (self-released)
“Make Muscles” by Lizard Police (Little Mafia)
“Battlefield Darlins” by Black Canyon (self-released)
“Feathers” by Riley Jantzen and The Spirits
“Summer Fever” by Colin Nance (self-released)
“Turns” by The Wurly Birds (self-released)
“Extra Virgin Olive Oil” by Junebug Spade (self-released)

Read more: - Look OKC

"EP Review"

Crown Imperial — Crown Imperial

Joshua Boydston
November 15th, 2011
Not much more than a year-old, Norman’s Crown Imperial already proves it’s a force to be reckoned with, on its self-titled debut. In just 16 minutes, the band flexes a knack for versatility, an eye for cohesiveness and an ear for massively addictive melodies.

The opener, “I’m Static,” darts out with a quick throttle before giving way to full and charming chorus echoing The Pains of Being Pure at Heart. Only Colourmusic and Other Lives rival the group in terms of a quality single, but no one even touches its catchiness.
The tribal trill of the dangerous “Elevator” follows, but that flare of revolt settles into the sweet sincerity of the fair “Sunglasses,” which does its best “Jesus and Mary Chain on a Roy Orbison bender” impersonation to resoundingly positive results. The boy-meets-girl vocal line explodes mid-chorus into the most cheery set of screams you’ve heard before reverting into a sunny buzz of delicate, pattering drums and ringing guitar notes.

The subsequent “Records” tones it down with a steady dose of Joy Division-cool, and Crown Imperial keeps it ’80s with closer “You Belong to Me,” building off a chunky bassline into airier chords and a healthy portion of reverb.

It’s a sleek, stylish and polished effort that showcases a great deal of upside and maturity, ready to go places. Crown Imperial’s disc is not only one of the best from an Oklahoma act this year, but one of the best EPs of the year, period. —Joshua Boydston - Oklahoma Gazette

"Imperial Unit"

"They've created a pleasant, jangly pop noise inspired by the Velvet Underground and Pixies..." Joshua Boybston - Oklahoma Gazette

"Crown Imperial's Regal Stamp"

By Doug Hill
The Norman Transcript

NORMAN — Cali Tonnu (guitar/vocals), Zach Massey (guitar/vocals), Martin Kornhaas (drums/vocals) and Wesley Dean (bass/vocals) have something in their Crown Imperial band dynamic that not all groups do.

“We’re friends,” Massey said in a recent interview. “We’re tight.”

Crown Imperial released a new EP this month and has been performing shows frequently around the metro. They have an exciting sound that owes to 1980’s New Wave, vintage bubblegum and Motown. Describing Crown Imperial as a new model of The Cars wouldn’t be off track. There’s a driving sensuality to their music that includes occasional surf guitar riffs and Tonnu’s provocatively feminine vocals.

Kornhaas and Massey are alum of rock outfit the Mean Spirits. Dean and Kornhaas played together in the Paper Flowers. Crown Imperial grew from these associations and they played their first show at OKC’s Hi-Lo Club in Aug. 2010. They’ve had gigs in Austin, Ft. Worth, Dallas and Tulsa in addition to Norman Music Festival IV at the Opolis. They’ll be playing Norman again at 7 p.m., Nov. 11 during Second Friday Arts Walk at Anty Shanty Vintage Clothing (318 E. Main).

Song writing is collaboration with individuals introducing concepts that are then fleshed-out by the group.

“We don’t have a common theme among the songs,” Kornhaas said. “Some are surreal imagery with no defined narrative.” Dean described songs not bound by any specific genre that range from pretty to harsh to “dance-y.”

Although it may not be overtly apparent in their music or lyrics, Crown Imperial embraces their Oklahoma roots. All grew up in the Sooner state. Dean and Kornhaas went to high school together in Ardmore.

“I’m proud of being from here,” Tonnu said. “People are very friendly here. There’s the close-minded aspect but also the gentle southern side.”

The men have day jobs and study at Oklahoma University. Tonnu works full time for a legislator at the state capitol. Kornhaas pointed out that their first music video titled “I’m Static” directed by Adam Beatty includes sweeping Oklahoma landscape shots.

“All four of us are from rural places,” Massey said.

The band recently set up temporary headquarters at Kornhaas’ grandfather’s ranch house near Springer in Carter County.

“We’d have band practice for whole weekends and hang out with the cows and just loved it,” Tonnu said.

They found it refreshing to avoid city influence and focus on each other as musicians and writers in an isolated setting.

“There was a freedom in that rural area where it was even difficult for anyone to reach us by phone that was really inspirational,” Kornhaas said.

They performed a show at someone’s car port in Ardmore, shot fireworks and communed with nature but mostly played music together without extraneous distractions. Maybe best of all they just like hanging out together even when there’s no band task at hand.

“We make a big wall of sound from our big wall of friendship,” Kornhaas said. “We want our audiences to feel the closeness that we feel to each other.”

They all agreed that close personal bonds are at the heart of what they do together on stage and in the recording studio.

“It’s a lot of fun, still stress-free, interesting and feels good going through new songs for the first time,” Dean said.

Although these emotions aren’t necessarily rare, it’s unusual for band members to articulate them so freely in an interview where no shots of tequila are involved.

“It would be amazing if we could get people in the crowd to feel like we feel about each other,” Kornhaas said.

They admit the band occasionally hit bumps in their relationship road.

“Being close can be a double-edged sword because you might be more sensitive to something just because you’re such good friends,” Massey said. “Or you might let something go unsaid because you don’t want to hurt feelings. But I’m really proud, happy and excited to be doing this with these people.”

It undoubtedly doesn’t hurt that Tonnu is Massey’s girlfriend. Crown Imperial enjoys watching Twin Peaks, listening to music and even considered playing 18 holes of golf together. When asked about guilty musical pleasures, Kornhaas’ friends gently teased him about his taste for listening to Madonna.

Audience response has been overwhelmingly positive and Crown Imperial’s following has grown.

“They’re crazy about us,” Tonnu said, first dead pan and then laughing with her band mates.

- The Norman Transcript

"Sound Advice"

"They have a sophisticated and highly listenable take on indie rock that recalls the best of early Rolling Stones or 2011’s Deadstring Brothers." Doug Hill - Norman Transcript


Crown Imperial EP released October 2011 on Sundae Records.



They met, fell in love, and started playing together one summer. Crown Imperial emerged from Norman, Oklahoma signing with Austin label, Sundae Records. They have played all over Texas and Oklahoma. Their most notable shows have been at Emo's and Mohawk in Austin, Denton Music Festival, Norman Music Festival, The Opolis, the Hi-LO, Double Wide, 29th Street Ballroom, Guestroom Records Presents, Soundpony, and Young Fest.

The foursome recently released their EP on Sundae Records. The EP invokes sentimental imagery, summer infatuation, sinister invocation, indie rock and blues. All members had a hand developing each song. It takes you on a unique journey upon every track with the definite signature Crown Imperial sound.

"It’s a sleek, stylish and polished effort that showcases a great deal of upside and maturity, ready to go places. Crown Imperial’s disc is not only one of the best from an Oklahoma act this year, but one of the best EPs of the year, period." - EP Review by The Oklahoma Gazette's Joshua Boydston.

Crown Imperial also just debuted a music video for "I'm Static" with director, Adam Beatty.