With little fanfare, the Broken Arrow-based Ester Drang has become one of the little-known gems of indie rock. The quartet has toured with Pedro The Lion and Rosie Thomas and served as the backing band for current alt-darling Sufjan Stevens—not bad for a group of boys from the 918 area code. Punctuating psychedelic shoegazing reveries with squalls of ethereal electronica, Ester Drang has fashioned an immersive third full-length album in Rocinate (a shout-out to Don Quixote’s faithful steed). Obvious parallels could be traced to some other experimental Oklahoma sons—the Flaming Lips or Starlight Mints—but Aqueduct’s David Terry, another shit-hot Okie making a name for himself, often feels like a more apt musical touchstone here. Swathed in synths and propelled forward by insistent percussion, the band’s music draws lofty comparisons to both Coldplay and The Arcade Fire in the gushing press materials, but I’d argue Ester Drang shows more genuine soul than either of those acts. The mournful drone of “Come Back Alive” contrasts the relative sunshine of “Valencia’s Dying Dream”—over the course of these 10 songs, vocalist/guitarist Bryce Chambers, drummer James McAlister, and guitarist Jeff Shoop simultaneously provoke thought and uplift the listener in grand fashion. It’s a stirring, determined album that should make Ester Drang less of a well-kept secret and more of an adored favorite.
- Slant is reaching more readers than ever before, but advertising revenue across the Internet is falling fast, hitting independently owned and operated publications like ours the hardest. We’ve watched many of our fellow media sites fall by the way side in recent years, but we’re determined to stick around.
We’ve never asked our readers for financial support before, and we’re committed to keeping our content free and accessible—meaning no paywalls or subscription fees. If you like what we do, however, please consider becoming a Slant patron.
You can also make a one-time donation via PayPal: