Original Writeup

HIGH PRAISE: Oklahoma City Group stepmom’s Debut Album Brings Hope In A Seemingly Hopeless Year

by Tanner Wertz

In need of a band that has “a little bit of everything”? Look no further than Oklahoma City-based group, stepmom. Their self-described “orchestral dream punk” sound is a marriage of three-part vocal harmonies, ambient and digital soundscapes, garage rock guitar riffs, and more. stepmom’s music represents the feelings of disillusionment among many who are trying to find meaning and purpose in a society that distorts reality.

Following the release of three singles, “Paper & Wax” (9/13/2019), “Party People” (5/1/2020), and “Vampires” (7/27/2020), stepmom released their full-length, self-titled album on 9/5/2020. A constant in stepmom’s music and image are deep, underlying themes. The front cover of “Stepmom”, for example, includes two melted Barbie dolls. The meaning behind the melted Barbies is to fight “societal norms” that have misled people for years, especially in a world where media is more influential than ever.

Citing their musical influences as Neutral Milk Hotel, The White Stripes, Angel Olsen, Sufjan Stevens, and Violent Femmes, stepmom is no stranger to experimenting sonically and visually. Songs like “Take Care” and “See What’s Inside” set a mellow tone and then take off like a force of distorted nature with higher tempos and heavier instrumentals. The track “Feels So Good” acts as a resolution to a journey of an album that captures the group’s amazing vocal performance and harmony composition that’s integrated in their discography. Visually, stepmom successfully grabs your eyes with their brightly-colored outfits and stage backdrops/props in addition to using melted Barbies to show a distorted reality.

Oklahoma City’s stepmom is visually and sonically different; which is exactly what we need in 2020 and beyond. First off, it’s nice to hear a track by them and say “oh yeah, that’s stepmom” in a climate where it’s easy to mix up bands who have a similar sound. Considering different musical trends sweeping the United States, it’s refreshing to hear confident and beautiful vocal performances. Visually speaking, stepmom doesn’t shy away from showing you what these songs mean to them. In the age of social media and image, we’ve needed a group to show that anything and everything is beautiful, not just certain things. It’s refreshing to hear these songs cover topics that aren’t often represented in music – long overdue I’d say.

Hearing a new album and band for the first time that you absolutely love makes you think “how have I lived life without this? No going back now”. This is how I feel about stepmom and their self-title debut. I’m looking forward to more from them and to see them live when the world is ready.
For more on stepmom, please visit https://www.stepmomband.com/

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