The 25 Best Local Albums Of 2016 — So Far.
Not sure if you've noticed, but local artists are killing it right now. Have been for a little while now, too. As we've noted time and again, it's not unusual to find any number of artists representing North Texas all over the top of the Billboard charts.
That is to say, any given weekend, there's at least a couple artists from around these parts releasing records every bit as worthy of your time as those the rest of the country is listening to. Hell, we must have heard 100 stellar discs in the first half of 2016 alone. It's a lot to keep up with.
So rather than wait for the end of the year to try and make heads or tails of it all, we've gone and done you a solid of streaming the 25 best local albums of 2016 so far — along with the names of another 25 or so also worthy of your time. Like we said, killing it.
Artist: Jacob Metcalf.
Recommended if you like: Quiet reflection, incense.
What we've already said: “Jacob Metcalf is a local musician — you may remember him from his stint in Fox & the Bird — who has spent the past several years living in a crawl space, saving money to put together his debut album, Fjord. Described by Metcalf as being about splintered people in a fractured age, the album shares a lot of similar elements to Sufjan Stevens's more folk-like albums, with meticulous orchestration and a heavy emotional tone.” — Paul Wedding
Artist: War Pary.
Album: To Love and Fear It
Recommended if you like: Wops of both the “do” and “don't” varieties.
What we've already said: “Without the normal time constraints that come with renting out somebody else's studio by the hour or day, the band was able to take its time and really find itself this time around, with To Love and Fear It settling into a new territory that leaves most of the band's long established 'don't-wop' sound behind…Meaning, the band's nine newest tracks lean more Stooges and less Hunx & His Punx. Working once again with longtime producer Britt Robisheaux, the band treads new ground thanks, in part, to the addition of multi-instrumentalist Christopher Walden on keys and trombone full-time, with his presence really helping beef up big horn-driven tracks like 'To Be Young Again.' — CG
Artist: G.U.N. & Cardo.
Recommended if you like: Going Platinum.
What we've already said: “With credits like Drake, Jay Z, Kendrick Lamar and Big Sean already on his resume, Dallas-based producer Cardo has teamed up with favorite local rapper G.U.N. on a new joint project, Gun Got Wings, coming out on April 23. Who knows? Maybe this is what catapults the 'Johnny Cage' rapper to the level of some of those aforementioned stars. G.U.N. certainly believes it, rapping 'Everything I do is going Platinum now!' on ['Can't Change']'s hook. Hey, crazier things have happened, and he certainly holds his own here.” — CG
Recommended if you like: When Lauryn Hill writes songs for Mary J Blige.
What we've already said: “Produced by SirTim and mixed by Ish D, Bianca 'BeMyFiasco' Rodriguez marks her triumphant return with her sophomore project, the five-track Layers EP. It's equal parts '90s-flavored R&B, soul and pizzazz.” — CG
Artist: Mary Walker.
Album: Scenes of You and Me.
Recommended if you like: Vibing out.
What we've already said: “Seems the once-Denton-now-Dallas-based singer has figured a few things out since we caught a set of hers at 2013's 35 Denton festival. Already a promising vocalist, she's since dropped the sugary indie-pop thing for a largely more appealing, sultry chillwave thing. Speaking of chill music, that genre is one that seems to be on the uptick, at least locally, at the moment.” — CG
Artist: Jayson Lyric.
Album: Lyric Show.
Recommended if you like: Playing checkers better than playing chess.
What we've already said: “A lot of local rappers' favorite pastimes is bitching on social media about not getting the respect they think they deserve, or how, despite the number of write-ups they're getting, that the media is completely ignoring them. With his latest full-length, Lyric takes the opposite approach, keeping his head down, grinding and remaining ever-optimistic that his material is quality enough to speak for itself/propel him to the next level. We'll give him that; it's p good.” — CG
Artist: Conner Youngblood.
Album: The Generation of Lift.
Recommended if you like: Arguing that things can be both lush and minimal.
What we've already said: “Largely comprised of acoustic guitar and some pretty, harmony-rich vocals, Youngblood's latest single ['Summer Song'] is made infinitely more interesting by frequent drastic edits that clip the otherwise pleasant beat from underneath him. It's harsh and jarring every single time it happens, and we couldn't love the uneasy feeling it leaves us with any more. It's weird to feel your heart racing after listening to what's otherwise a quite affable little diddy. Nicely done.” — CG
Artist: Charley Crockett.
Album: In the Night.
Recommended if you like: Your grandpa's dust-caked vinyls.
What we've already said: “Like his buddy and fan Leon Bridges, Charley Crockett dresses and sounds like he's from another time. His vintage gear, his genteel demeanor and his recorded-straight-to-tape albums help sell the illusion, too. But whereas last year's A Stolen Jewel showed off Crockett's ability to lightly dip his toe into many musical waters — soul, Cajun, country and jazz, all commingled through an old timey blues-folk filter — his new long-player, In The Night, finds him genuinely excelling at each of these, and with a newfound aplomb.” — CG
Artist: Herrick & Hooley.
Recommended if you like: All the good things about childhood.
What we've already said: “Texoma is thematically wistful and nostalgic with its vibe-y blend of jazz, R&B, soul and hip-hop. More than that, the album — which features appearances from Dallas rappers -topic, KoolQuise and Cameron McCloud, among others — is just good, a set that comfortably fits alongside the most alluring jazz-indebted releases from the periphery of Hip-Hop's Great Modern Soundcloud Era.” — Pete Freedman
Artist: Snarky Puppy.
Album: Culcha Vulcha.
Recommended if you like: American jazz fusion.
What we've already said: “As opposed to its many, well-regarded (and Grammy-winning!) live albums, Culcha Vulcha is being hailed as the jazz-funk collective's first true studio effort in years. Its second album of 2016 explores sounds from all over the globe, packing them into a single, easily-digestible package. Most of all, it's just fun.” — CG
Artist: Post Malone.
Album: August 26.
Recommended if you like: Talking about practice.
What we've already said: “Though he scored an opening slot on Bieber's tour with only a handful of released tracks, Yung Posty's been having to open and close those shows with “White Iverson” — hey, just like he did that one time at Trees! — mostly because he hasn't the material for a longer set. But now, with the ballsy move of releasing this new mixtape within a day of Chance the Rapper's first mixtape in three years, Post simultaneously proves he's no one-hit wonder and, furthermore, that he might be one of the best doing what he's doing right now.” — CG
Artist: Daniel Markham.
Recommended if you like: Black metal and acoustic guitars.
What we've already said: “Like his previous pair of releases under his own name, Markham's newly released LP is heavily rooted in the '90s. But unlike the early-R.E.M.-meets-Alice-in-Chains vibe of his first two records, this one leans more in a Red House Painters direction. Different though it may be, Disintegrator still feels very much like Markham, an artist not afraid to keep pressing forward and trying new things while still keeping one eye on the past.” — CG
Album: My Second Album.
Recommended if you like: Partying like it's 1989.
What we've already said: “We still don't really know who Felix is, but it stopped bothering us a long time ago. The artist's second album sounds like the copy of a copy of a copy of a Prince and Fat Boys collaboration cassette tape. The story this time goes that this severely degraded relic is the sole remaining copy of this album, and that it was only recently unearthed when His Royal Badness' vault was cracked by his surviving relatives. That's probably not actually the case but, hey, it might be! Like I said, we know nothing.” — CG
Artist: Jesus Chris + The Beetles.
Album: Love Songs from the Slime World.
Recommended if you like: Aggressively patting yourself on the back.
What we've already said: “Talk about one hell of a band name to try and live up to. But this Denton outfit certainly makes a valiant effort on this killer, if scattered, collection of garage, melodic hardcore, noise rock and glam. It's face-melting aggression at its most accessible.” — CG
Artist: Maren Morris.
Recommended if you like: Well-placed s-bombs.
What we've already said: “Another artist with local ties that's onto cool things of late? The Arlington-sprung Next Big Thing In Country Music, Maren Morris. In addition to praise from Rolling Stone, a glowing review of Morris' Hero LP in The New York Times compares the singer favorably to another skyrocketing North Texas country product, Kacey Musgraves.” — PF
Artist: Mind Spiders.
Recommended if you like: The first three Mind Spiders records.
What we've already said: “While not officially out until next week, the fourth Mind Spiders record is currently streaming over at NPR. Said to be inspired by the Fort Worth-filmed Logan's Run, the record will sound instantly familiar to anyone that's heard any of the projects this group of guys has ever worked on, with the added bonus of some synth and drum machine work this time around. 'If anything,' says NPR of these new additions, 'Mind Spiders uses them as pace-setting devices for the guitars and live drummer to outrun, in sprints of strident downpicking and on-the-beat hi-hat/snare work.'” — CG
Artist: Tony Ferraro.
Album: A Parrot Buys a Hotel.
Recommended if you like: The satans of any and every type of rock.
What we've already said: “Even after dropping the Satans of Soft Rock moniker, there's no denying a Tony Ferraro track when you hear one. Even if this album's first single ['Go Go Supertoy'] didn't show a level of restraint and intricacy that surpasses his usually thoughtful output, there's still plenty of reason to [grab this one.] The guy's simply one of the most consistent things Denton's got to offer. Has been for years, really.” — CG
Artist: Danny Diamonds.
Recommended if you like: Diminutive telecommunication devices.
What we've already said: “A year or so ago, Danny and his boys scrapped together a pile of cash and ventured out to Tiny Telephone in San Francisco to record with John Vanderslice. The result, Danny says, speaks for itself with regard to “fidelity, honesty and quality.” It's maybe the best thing he's ever done. But get this — he went back to the new Tiny Telephone in Oakland to record another disc with Vanderslice that'll come out later this year. And that one, he says, is even better than this one!” — CG
Artist: Quaker City Night Hawks.
Album: El Astronauta.
Recommended if you like: Hombres de Fort Worth.
What we've already said: “Quaker City's third full-length was recorded with local studio ace Beau Bedford at the helm, meaning this one…is exquisitely produced. Noisey previously described the opening cut as sounding like it was recorded by 'a gang of sci-fi-obsessed ZZ Top superfans who've gone rogue,' which is really just a clever way of saying they've found a way to make dirty ol' run-of-the-mill blues rock sound strange and interesting again. And it is! It's out… via Lightning Rod, so expect lots of national touring in these fellas near future.” — CG
Artist: Tiger + Man.
Album: s/t EP.
Recommended if you like:
What we've already said: “Like Sarah Jaffe before her, singer-songwriter Tiger Darrow has changed things up quite a bit since her acoustic guitar days. Her current project, a collaboration with film-scorer Andrew Orkin, blends the electronic and acoustic worlds rather seamlessly. For her part, Tiger sucks you in with her outstanding vocal abilities, waiting until you stop to really admire them to whack you with a burst of mangled, St. Vincent-like guitar lines.” — CG
Album: Cut the Body Loose.
Recommended if you like: Cutting across genres with reckless abandon.
What we've already said: “Say what you will about how local Astronautalis is. Does a stint at SMU make you a lifetime Dallasite? We're not ones to pick nits, and we don't really care where the emcee is or isn't from. But [the single 'Attila Ambrus' from his Cut the Body Loose LP], is Dallas as hell. Produced by Picnictyme, and featuring drum programming from John Congleton, plus synths and bass courtesy of Adam Pickrell (and, OK, Virginia-based horn player Reggie Pace too), this is a bit of a different sound than we've heard from Mr. Bothwell — and we fucking love it. It's fast-paced and funky and oh so choice.” — CG
Artist: Ethereal and the Queer Show.
Album: Fairy Super Crystal Blue.
Recommended if you like: Ambient music that's way too good to just be “background” music.
What we've already said: “There's a lot of stuff going on here, to be sure, and it'd be easy for the band to have really run with some of the more chaotic synth lines and really overwhelm the listener. As it were, though, EATQS does a really excellent job here of finding space and opening up what could have potentially been a sensory-overloading piece of experimental racket into a really nice piece of noisy synth pop. Anyway, Noisey Espana says of the track: 'Suena como si De Chirico se perdiese por Burgos.' Or: 'It sounds like De Chirico was lost by Burgos.' We'll have to take their word on that.” — CG
Artist: Parquet Courts.
Album: Human Performance.
Recommended if you like: Things that Smash Mouth likes.
What we've already said: “No matter how much material these verbose Denton expats seem to release — what's it been now, five LPs and two EPs in less than five years? — they never seem to suffer a misstep. Every album is slightly different, yet so distinctly Parquet Courts. The band's brand new LP…is no different. It's just one more bit of evidence proving that the Last Great New York band is probably the best rock 'n' roll band anywhere right now.” — CG
Artist: John Congleton.
Album: Until the Horror Goes.
Recommended if you like: Death and kittens.
What we've already said: “When we spoke to Congleton about his then-upcoming LP back in February, he spoke of his inclination to find beauty in imperfection. “I kind of like music to be like a beautiful woman with a scar on her face,” he said. That sums up this long-time-coming pAper chAse follow-up record quite succinctly. It's alternately beautiful and dark, accessible and terrifyingly unnerving at the same time. Bravo.” — CG
Artist: Sam Lao.
Recommended if you like:
What we've already said: “SPCTRM is clear statement release, the kind of subsequent confirmation of early praise that this town too rarely sees from the fresh-faced artists it so quickly and readily hypes; it shows off an artist fully formed. And, though it's more than a simple hip-hop album, it stands only equaled in the local progressive rap realm by A.Dd+'s classic 2011 When Pigs Fly, Blue the Misfit's 2014 Child In The Wild rallying cry and Bobby Sessions' breakthrough Law of Attraction from last year. Better yet, it does so as Sam's stage presence is coming into its own and rivaling the versatility she's shown in her recorded efforts since 2013.” — PF
Pageantry — Influence
Cut Throat Finches — Reality
Sad Cops — Liam Murphy Holt
TraÌi BÆ¡ — Sugar_Cookie
Leoncarlo — Still Forms
Relick — Twin House
-topic — My Favorite Sweaters
Jonny Boy — s/t
Acid Carousel — America's Newest Hitmakers
Andy Meadows — Modern Day Crooner
Keegan McInroe — Uncouth Pilgrims
The Lash Outs — State of Excess
Pale Dian — Narrow Birth
Cozy Hawks — End Era
Jay Fresh — Heard it All Before
Luke McGlathery — Life Ain't Hard
Kevin England — About as Country as Oklahoma's WinStar World Casino and Resort
Wiving — s/t
Pleasant Grove — The Heart Contortionists
Go Yayo — Boom God
David Morgan — Genesis
CLIFFFS — Bill, You're Only Human
Nervous Curtains — Low Defender
Ronnie Heart — s/t
The Roomsounds — Elm Street
Norvis Junior — Pyrrhic Victory Disc 03
Plain Jane Francis — 3 Likes