Tulsa Drone - Songs from a Mean Season (Cover Artwork)

Tulsa Drone

Songs from a Mean Season (2007)

The Perpetual Motion Machine

Mogwai often act as a crutch for music writers when searching for a way to describe an instrumental act that isn't necessarily post-rock, so I hate to do it, but Tulsa Drone kind of sound like Mogwai. They know how to lock into hypnotizing mid-tempo compositions, get all spacey, use a bit of vocals for added effect and bring some motherfucking ruckus when it's necessary. Now while all of those features also apply to Mogwai, the important thing to remember here is that I said "kind of sound like" because Tulsa Drone also posses some unique elements.

I'm not sure if this will do Tulsa Drone justice, but while they do share many of Mogwai's approaches to instrumental music, they take those approaches in a creepier and more down-home fashion. By often employing dulcimer, wavering guitar lines and some added off-putting percussion, Tulsa Drone create songs that play out like they could be the soundtrack to episodes of "The X-Files," while a little bit of twang and murder-ballad moroseness lends them a sort of straw-chewing charm. These might sound like strange or awkward additions on paper, but these are the type of hallmarks that make these tracks distinct and recognizably Tulsa Drone.

The album starts with "Monongahela," which, if named after the river cutting through Pittsburgh, lives up to its namesake. The song flows calmly, yet eerily, like you've just stumbled upon a murder scene and aren't sure if the killer is still around, before hitting rocky moments of sonic outburst. Next, tracks like "Risk Guitar" and "We'll Take Oregon Hill" bring a bit more of that Southern panache, making for songs that sound like they would be at home in a film made by Sergio Leone and George A. Romero.

Tulsa Drone know what they do well, so later songs like the creeped-out honky-tonk of "There Isn't a Single Star in the Sky" and the slow-plodding groove of closer "Laurel Street" follow in the footsteps of the compositions that came before them. This is not to say Songs from a Mean Season grows redundant -- it's just to point out that Tulsa Drone have a very cohesive and signature sound, one that is worth a listen.