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January 1, 2006

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The song “Hooker with a Heart of Gold,” from Ester Drang’s third full length album, Rocinate, could be seen as a musical interpretation of the Bret Harte short story, “The Outcasts of Poker Flat.” The title being a reference to the character Mother Shipton, while a line from the song, “It’s like a bullet through your heart,” represents the anti-climatic ending to the story in which a down on his luck gambler, John Oakhurst, takes his own life in similar fashion.

The point is that the Tulsa trio, Ester Drang, create music that is so surreal, textured, sincere and compelling, that it often sounds and feels like the soundtrack to a movie you haven’t seen, or an interpretation of a book you haven’t read. Like any great movie soundtrack, the feeling of euphoria engulfing Rocinate, is created by layers upon layers of gorgeous musical variation. “Come Back Alive,” aside from its haunting lyricism and echoed vocals, features a refreshing breeze of sweeping horns. “Valencia’s Dying Dream” offers bittersweet rain drop piano alongside notes from a western slide guitar that yields a similar result to that of World Leader Pretend, in sounding both sincere, but completely bombastic as well. “Caledonia,” a song that bridges the musical gap between their elaborate first effort, Goldenwest, and their more structured second, Infinite Keys, is an almost entirely instrumental piece that features racing flutes, harsh electronic effects and rollicking drums. The strength of such tracks makes Rocinate their most appeasing and mature work to date.

The Hard Music Magazine

Austin Powell