The Wright Brothers’ singular focus bridges genres and presents one of Tulsa’s most promising pop albums (Cosmic Hearts) in years.
When the Wright Brothers convened for a release party for their most recent CD, Cosmic Hearts, in September, the band revealed a refined sound and new direction that clearly tied to its past with a sharp focus on the future. Yes, there are still moments that share the cinematic scope of the band’s debut EP, You, Me and the Universe, but a more concentrated focus on melodies, big vocal harmonies, and even larger hooks make it one of the most unabashedly pop-focused local albums Tulsa has seen in the past decade.
When listening, it feels like a huge leap forward and a promise that danceable power-pop is ripe for re-emergence in Tulsa’s music landscape. When sitting down with the band, however, it all feels like a natural progression for four biological brothers who share an undeniable love of music and a unified vision of what they can accomplish.
One listen to tracks like the ultra-danceable “Hot Shot Love” or “Wonder Drunk,” which segues from a dreamy intro to a huge hook on the chorus, and it’s easy to get caught up in Cosmic Hearts. The Brothers make it seem effortless, but there was plenty of work put into it; the band spent roughly two years in the studio constructing, layering, and refining the songs that would appear on the final track listing. With Cosmic Hearts finally seeing release, the fully independent group is now focused on building awareness of the band and the new album.
“We’re trying to do a lot of internet marketing to make sure people know about us and the new CD,” says guitarist Jonny. That includes releasing music videos, of which the band has already released two: initially for the first single, “Rocketship,” and most recently for the follow up, “Hot Shot Love,” with the band in pre-production stages for three more videos.
“The idea is that if you’re an independent band, you really don’t have the budget or marketing opportunities that a band on a larger label has, so you need to keep putting material out there, to stay on people’s minds and build a fan base,” Jonny shares.
“Our goal is to keep releasing content,” guitarist/vocalist Jacob adds. “We’re really excited about these songs, so we’ve got a lot of ideas for videos.”
With a combination of great songs and a growing online presence, building awareness of the band should come with time and exposure, especially as the band focuses on building an expansive EPK (electronic press kit) to market itself for live performance into 2018 and beyond.
For those who assume The Wright Brothers are a new band emerging from the shadows with big intentions, think again. Yes, the brothers have a big vision, but these guys are far from newcomers. The group released You, Me and the Universe in 2012 and proceeded to play select shows into the following year, including a showcase spot at the Center of the Universe festival in July 2013 as well as opening shows for select touring acts and a few local bands.
Looking back even further, it seems The Wright Brothers weren’t born of choice or even necessity, but destiny. Yes, Jonny, Jacob, keyboardist Jeremy, and drummer Joe are all siblings. When asked about infighting and if or when the band turns into a magnified Kinks or Oasis, all four of them laugh. “You know, people have asked about that before, but we’ve pretty much always gotten along really well. We grew up in a big family: a nine-person family in a medium-sized house, so we were always close.”
To hear Jonny and Jacob tell it, as teenagers, they not only shared a room and passion for guitar, but that passion ran so deep, they pushed the beds out of the way to set up a full PA system in their room to play through.
“When I think about it now, I’m not sure how our parents didn’t lose their minds,” Jacob laughs. “We had a full sound system in our room, and we were playing Nirvana songs with me just screaming into the microphone.”
“We got a few complaints from the neighbors,” Jonny adds, “but I’m surprised they didn’t complain a lot more than they did.”
Music came naturally to all of the siblings as their mother had been a music major at ORU (their father was a pastor) and there was always a guitar and piano in thehouse.
“I think our Mom gave us all piano lessons and as we grew up, we all just kind of naturally attached ourselves to our respective instruments,” Jonny explains.
All three of the older brothers (Jonny, Jacob, and Jeremy) have played in different bands and projects since 1999 or 2000. Jonny and Jacob played together in a band called Glow Soul, before revamping as Lightworks in 2007-08 with the addition of Jeremy on keyboards. By the time youngest brother Joe joined the fold, the band finally transitioned to their current moniker. Since then, the group has continued to evolve and refine its sound.
“With our EP, I think it was a little more progressive and cinematic in scope,” Jonny explains. “The early version of our band, I think of a lot like Sigur Rós: We had some really atmospheric, conceptual stuff hat was long with a lot of parts. As we started preparing for the new record, we started to go back to some of the stuff rom the ‘80s. We wanted to get a more pop sound and looked to bands like New Order, Tears for Fears, U2 and even Def Leppard. We didn’t get too deep into ‘80s new wave, but we started incorporating more synths and taking our cues from those bands to focus on what we wanted to do with our songs.”
The results of that renewed focus, not to mention nearly two years of writing, experimenting, and refining, have crystalized in Cosmic Hearts, an album that bridges the gap between the Brothers’ late-‘80s reference points and more progressive influences like Muse, Coldplay, Radiohead, and 30 Seconds to Mars.
Perhaps more importantly, it positions the group as one of the premier local bands to keep an eye on, as its songs can sit squarely in the middle of a playlist with major label peers like M83,, The Weeknd, and The 1975.
Now that the fruits of the band’s labors have finally been released, the group’s focus is transitioning to getting the music out to as many people as possible and getting back to the live stage to perform for an audience on a regular basis.
The Wright Brothers
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