Independent Clauses | n. —unusual words about underappreciated music

MopTop: The Cutting Edge

May 1, 2007

MopTop: The Cutting Edge

I like the cutting edge – that’s why I’m in this business. I love being in on the early shows, having the early recordings and seeing bands grow. That’s just part of who I am. Thus, I always keep my ears open for music, no matter where I am.

I was eating lunch with a friend in the Will Rogers Room of the Union at the University of Oklahoma when I heard from across the large room songs that I knew. The university often sponsors what they call Mid-Day Music – an artist or a group, usually acoustic-based, comes in and creates some background noise for people eating.

But this group was much more than just background noise – at various points throughout the conversation with my friend, I got distracted, listening to the music. It seemed that my bizarre and far-reaching taste in music was infinitely compatible with this band’s tastes: Israel

Kamakawiwoʻole’s “Somewhere Over the Rainbow/What a Wonderful World,” Bush’s “Glycerine,” Incubus’ coffeehouse standard “Drive,” “Lean on Me.” It seemed that nothing was out of the grasp of these guys. Their acoustic-based sound was smooth and full, with male and female vocals alternating lead. The two acoustic guitars and djembe provided enough sound to get out to the audience, but not too much to overwhelm the crowd. The thing that stuck out most in my and my friend’s mind most was the vocals. Both male and female vocalists were simply incredible, blowing most – if not all – of the singers we’d been subjected to at Mid-Day Music out of the water. Between the solid tone, great range and excellent control, we were delighted to have such stellar accompaniment to our meal.

I went up and talked to lead singer Kyle Reid, bassist Devin Donaldson and singer Evelyn Serrano after the set. They told me their name was MopTop, and that this was their first real set.

My cutting-edge meter went off the charts. A band this good and that was their first set?

The band seemed a little surprised at both my and the audience’s excited response to the set. Reid had reason to be a little nervous before going in to the set.

“I’ve played Mid-Day musics before where they yell at you and tell you to turn it down,” Reid said.

Really?

“Yeah, I brought my electric, and I got a little too much into it,” Reid said.

Learning from his too-loud experiences, Reid and co. played a set of mostly chill material. Despite the laid-back vibe, the band still had a couple tricks up their sleeve.

“People knew “Wild Horses,” and no one knows that. Originally it’s a Stones song, but the version we do is a cover by Alicia Keys,” Reid said.

That eclectic taste in music permeated their entire set. But how does a band agree on such diverse material?

“I think we really just picked a bunch of songs we liked,” Donaldson said.

“There’s a lot of different people in the group, and we like a lot of different music,” Reid said.

The decision to do all covers was of necessity. Formed to play for a banquet at the university, the band was playing this set as a warm-up for the Banquet. But the band doesn’t plan on being a cover band forever.

“I write my own songs, but we haven’t performed them yet. That’ll happen soon,” said Reid.

They also don’t plan on being an acoustic act forever.

“We have an electric set and an acoustic set,” Reid said. “It’s got actual drums, to make it more full.”

I would direct you to their myspace or website, but they’re so brand new that they don’t even have the ‘essential’ trappings yet.

With this much talent already displayed, it’s going to be a joy watching MopTop develop. If their taste in songwriting is as clever and diverse as their taste in covers, it looks like Norman, OK, is going to have a new band to follow. And you totally heard about them first.

Stephen Carradini

independentclauses@hotmail.com

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Stephen Carradini and friends write reviews of bands that are trying to make the next step in their careers.

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