Pop-punk Tahlequah quartet continues a winning streak of fun tunes and elevated visuals on its first release of a promising new year.
Oklahoma music has long held burgeoning alternative scenes, but following the landmark year that was 2022, the current rising tide is undeniable. While big-numbers bands like post-hardcore favs Outline in Color continued growing their reach, breakthrough releases from Cliffdiver, Ben Quad, and Chat Pile proved a tipping point.
Following the past couple of decades of indie notoriety built on legendary local lighthouses such as Starlight Mints, Other Lives, and Deerpeople (as well as, admittedly, a reputation for Rocklahoma-style hard rock thanks to 2000’s-era post-grunge acts like Hinder and Aranda), the conversation about Oklahoma’s voice in Midwest rock music has turned another leaf. Instead of finding a seat in the state’s mainstream arts, which may forever prioritize folk/red dirt originals and pop-rock copycats, a new generation of emo kids, metal heads, shoegazers, and punks have fashioned a table for themselves, and niche fans around the country are eating it up.
In alternative music, the stage is set for 2023 to be anyone’s year. If anyone is taking wagers, though, Thru It All should be under betting-slip consideration. On the crest of an industry-wide pop-punk resurgence, this Tahlequah quartet could be the dark horse nobody saw coming.
While Goodfella is generally the small college town’s most recognized pop-punk offspring, Thru It All is on a big upswing thanks to a steady offering of tunes, a strong social media game, and smart branding. 2021’s The Irrelevant EP and 2022’s Wounded Souls EP performed well, and a growing collection of music videos sees the quartet understanding the necessity (and creative opportunity) of image.
Last week, Thru It All released new single “Tangled”, and yesterday, its music video officially dropped on YouTube. Watch it here in this Make Oklahoma Weirder video premiere.
Set in the concrete, overgrown ruins of some abandoned outdoor space, the music video for “Tangled” mines the potential of its location with picturesque framing that elevates it from a standard band-playing-instruments-in-a-room shoot to a compelling visual. Twisted tree branches and wall graffiti naturally enhance the rougher edges of Thru It All’s sound, and the video coloring combines with the band’s eclectic wardrobe (ranging from leopard print bucket hats to hearted sunglasses and shirtless tats) to draw flavor from what could have been a dull visual under a different director. Fortunately, the boys know how to pick their collaborators, and Tulsa-based dood films does a typically fantastic job here.
One fun aspect of the video that most are bound to miss on first view is that, when one takes a closer look at the background of shots featuring drummer Andrew Lindroth, the band has added to the existing layers of graffiti at the site. Not only is there a suitably spraypainted melting smiley face, the band’s de facto logo, but the song’s chorus is spelled out as well. Theoretically, fans can just roll up to this spot and see proof that Thru It All was there, at least until it all gets painted over, as all graffiti eventually is.
Musically, “Tangled” is in the band’s pop-punk wheelhouse, though it dips into some fun death metal lite™ by the end. Thru It All rocks harmonies in both the vocals and the guitar work as lyrics lament the frustrations of conditional approval from a vague societal source. The open-ended nature of the relatively short song allows for listeners to apply its theme in a variety ways, whether as a take on critical parents, unrequited love, or general perfectionism. In this light, the sprawling disorder of the music video’s set is especially apt.
Oddly, a whopping 30-second ambient fadeout ends the song, which doesn’t make much sense outside of the music video. As it turns out, this is for the end credits, but folks who tuned in for the track premiere last week would not have known that. Additionally, this inclusion makes for an unintentional barrier for playlist curation, since that dead space can kill the vibe of a good Spotify shuffle. On the plus side of the streaming algorithm, though, “Tangled” may get the band a lot of new plays from Disney adults hunting for Mandy Moore songs.
Altogether, “Tangled” sees Thru It All continuing to strike big on its small-release independent run. Though still a relatively new band, it is clear that the players come with a lot of prior experience, and that has helped them rocket in popularity over the past year or two. If record labels aren’t already paying attention, they should be. It isn’t happenstance that the aforementioned band breakthroughs of 2022 were all out-of-state label debuts that benefited from industry infrastructure that Oklahoma still does not quite have. If it did, Thru It All would ping even more radars than it currently does. With crowd-pleasing singles and music videos like “Tangled”, music fans would be on board in no time.
To catch this song and others in-person, be sure to pencil in one of the band’s upcoming regional dates below. Thru It All has a solid live show, as Circle Lotus Media captured in a livestream last year (you can watch the replay here).
aka Jarvix, the Chief Executive Weirdo of Make Oklahoma Weirder. His out-of-the-box music coverage has been published by the Oklahoma Gazette, KOSU, and The Oklahoman among others. He also makes DIY music as a solo multi-instrumentalist live looper in his spare time.