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Leave home, get high on the "Pollen" of Fat City's very own Special Thumbs

Andrew W. Griffin / Red Dirt Report
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EP REVIEW: Pollen by Special Thumbs (independent) 2017

I think it’s safe to say that Oklahoma City has it’s weird and quirky side, particularly when it comes to the bands that seem to ripen and swell in this quiet community’s fecund indie music scene, lorded over by King Wayner, the local “pied piper,” and his obsequious band of court jesters and madcap dopers who play at guitar and hit the drum. Tea, anyone?

The latest recording to catch my ear, a recording made right here in Fat City, is an ep by the psychedelic rock combo Special Thumbs. The name of the recording? Pollen.

Pollen, in general, is good. Spreading the seed, as it were. Or it can make you sneeze and make your life miserable. Pollen, on the other hand, has made me see things I normally don’t see when I stare out my office window, like Styx’s Dennis DeYoung, repeating the mantra: “I thought that they were angels, but to my surprise …” But you probably already knew that. Just when you think the angels want you to sail away with them ... other plans are made and the masks come off.

I don’t know the men in Special Thumbs. And they are men. And just as I like my hash browns scattered, smothered and capped, I also like my cowbell. Plenty of cowbell. Thank you, drumsman Alberto Roubert. My hats off to you. Your bandmates should know now that you will go on to good and great things in the service of the drum. We will always remember you here in Fat City. The times were good. The cowbells fat.

And on the first track, the rave-up “Smothered,” I don’t get the food poisoning I might get at Waffle House. And again, that’s a good thing.

And like a luna moth emerging from a pupa inside a silk cocoon, the handclaps and indie-pop guitar lines (Caleb Lenon? Patrick Greene?) on “Leave Home / Get High” are giddy and infectious. Just stay away from the flames, dear reader.

And just as psychedelic guru Timothy Leary declared, while on the payroll of the CIA, that the Beatles were “mutants,” sent by God and “endowed with a mysterious power to create a new human species, a young race of laughing freemen,” well, I have to say I agree, at least until King Wayner’s future second-bestie showed up and Paul up and died. Sexy Sadie, what have you done?

But the joke (or is that “yoke”?) is on them, by gum. Special Thumbs takes a detour through Death Valley, summoning the spirit of Gram Parsons on “Lady Fingers,” a song that may have been originally inspired by Gram’s “trips” to Joshua Tree, looking for UFOs while hanging with Keith Richards and Anita Pallenberg. Good times.

… which takes us to the final track on this decidedly brief EP … “Abduct Their Starship.” Greene and his singing pal Joseph Riley take the listener on a magical mystery tour of their hall closet, the one full of forgotten model rockets, rotting boxes containing board games like Stratego and Clue, Uncle Cal’s nudie mags and his ex-wife's collection of Eagles, Supertramp and J. Geils Band eight-tracks – and those yellowing UFO and Bermuda Triangle paperbacks (Chariots of the Gods, anyone?) that have inspired so many other bands – particularly of this sort – over the past 40 years or so. A veritable cornucopia of garmonbozia and (bio)feedback memories.

I will say that my vinyl version sounded a bit muffled. Scratchy even. Bad batch? You can lead a horse to water, a wise man once said ... Still, nice to hear an OKC band make good in 2017. Go out and catch these “laughing freemen” with their guitar. Their drum. 

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Andrew W. Griffin

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Andrew W. Griffin received his Bachelor of Science in Journalism from...

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Red Dirt Report was launched July 4, 2007 as an independent news website covering all manner of news, culture, entertainment and lifestyle stories that affect and interest Oklahoma readers and readers outside of our state. Our mission is to educate, promote civic engagement and discourse on public policy, government and politics. Our experienced journalists provided balanced in-depth coverage of news stories that affect Oklahomans. Our opinion/editorial stories come from a wide range of political view points. We carry out our mission by reporting, writing, and posting news and information. read more

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