A Closer Look At The 2019 Central Track Music Honors Best Album Nominees, Which Range From Straightforward Pop Charmers To Undefinable Sonic Offerings.
With voting now open (and running through February 13!) in our first-ever Central Track Music Honors, we wanted to again acknowledge that we understand how approaching our ballot of 51 separate categories can feel like a bit of a task for those who aren’t paid to watch the scene as closely as we are. To that end, we’ve decided to dedicate some space on our site during this open voting period to breaking down some of our categories’ nominees a little more deeply. This below post aims to do just that. Don’t like what you see and hear? That’s cool, too! You can also write in your own top honors choices for each categories. The important thing, we think, is that you just pay a little mind to some of the amazing art that’s being created in this town — and that you express your appreciation for those talents with your votes. You can do just that — up to five times total, but only once per 24 hours — right here. Now, it’s time for the breakdown!
Sure, we may have let 2018 come and go without releasing one of our usual best-local-albums-of-the-year posts, but that doesn’t mean we weren’t paying attention. Frankly, we just pulled the reins back because we didn’t want to cut off our announcement of the first-ever Central Track Music Honors nominees.
So, we’re rectifying that earlier absence here with a dual-purpose post that not only serves as a list of our favorite albums of 2018, but starts a recurring breakdown we’re aiming to provide for some of our Central Track Music Honors‘ individual nominees.
More than just a list of albums, though, consider this a look back at some of last year’s coverage and a look at how each of these excellent records earned its list on the ballot.
In the coming days, you’ll notice that the album list differs a bit from our earlier-released best songs of 2018 list because, well, it’s just not good enough in this category to have released one terrific single — no matter how amazing it may be. These albums, rather, boasted multiple quality singles and begged for extended listens.
In our personal experience, anecdotal though that evidence may be, it seems like less emphasis was put on complete albums in 2018, with artists favoring singles and EPs to full-lengths. A sign of the times? Perhaps. But the acts on this list not only went the distance with their long-players; they also managed to compose cohesive works that earned repeat spins at this office.
So acquaint yourself with the following — oh, and don’t forget to vote for your favorite.
Josh T Pearson — The Straight Hits
The Lift To Experience vocalist’s second solo album — and first in seven years — is a bit of a far cry from anything else he’s ever done previously. And not just in sound either. We’re talking his entire look, music video aesthetic and attitude, too. In his words, he got rid of the beard, cut his hair, learned to dance, took some drugs and made a little love. As such, this upbeat and off-kilter collection of songs, each with the word “straight” in the title, caterwauls between country, rock, country-punk and pop. It’s a batch as truly eclectic and refreshing as the man himself.
Mr. Breakfast — Glass Dome
As we’ve previously written: “Mr. Breakfast’s duration has lasted for most of its members’ entire college runs at UNT. Now in their senior year, the project’s ready for proverbial graduation day. That is to say, the popular Denton house circuit band recently released a debut LP representing three years’ worth of material. Among Glass Dome’s synthy, Cure-inspired tracks are a pair of cuts reworked from last year’s self-titled debut EP, which was recorded on the cheap in one of their parents’ houses. This time around, they stuck to the home studio route, albeit it one of a more professional caliber, opting to record with Michael Briggs at Civil Audio.”
Xuan — Have Some Fun
The sugary, Salim Nourallah-produced debut LP from Xuan is true to its name. The album is full of bouncy synths and playful lyrics about such things as a running inner dialogue about striking up a conversation with an innocent crush (“We Were Just Talking”). As we’ve laid out here, the indie-pop singer embodies an adventurous spirit. She’s unafraid to grab life by the horns and never one to let it pass her by. And this album is a fun, poignant extension of all these traits.
Various Artists — Never Goin Back Soundtrack
The directorial debut of Garland-based filmmaker Augustine Frizzell was not only set and shot around North Texas; it was also accompanied by a soundtrack stuffed with local artists. It features offerings new and old from such area acts as -topic, Daniel Hart, Frizzell’s daughter Atheena, Kendal Smith and more, but the heavy lifting is done by Sarah Jaffe, who contributed several originals to the bunch. And, for our money, it’s the best stuff Jaffe’s ever released — so much so, that it shaped some of the course of the filmmaking. Said Frizzell of the way the msuic shaped her raunchy stoner comedy: “I love the music so much. Everyone who’s seen it is just raving about the music. That’s a big part of my process. During the writing process I listen to songs on repeat while I’m writing scenes. So I knew I wanted every scene to have a certain feel.” Mission accomplished.
Conner Youngblood — Cheyenne
Said we once upon a time: “We first wrote about Youngblood on our very first day in business, way back in 2012. We’ve since kept it up, hailing his track ‘A Summer Song’ as our sixth favorite song of 2016. But it seems Youngblood isn’t counting any of that. ‘Los Angeles,’ he says, is the first single from his forthcoming actual debut LP, Cheyenne, which features the young genius playing over 30 musical instruments. He apparently plays everything — even the impossible stuff like harp, bass clarinet and tabla.” We’re into it.
Daniel Markham — Hyperspeed
If Markham’s got two things going for him, it’s that he’s not only super prolific, but that his releases are all widely varied — from 8-bit tracks and metal anthems to R.E.M.-nodding ‘90s college radio acoustic offerings, crunchy grunge tracks and straight up rock songs. For his latest trick, he leans more towards the Grandaddy vein, churning out 14 songs that all clock in at under three minutes. Hyperspeed, indeed.
Upsetting — Everything I’ve Done So Far
Prior to this release, the Waco-sprung trio was known as Teenage Sexx. Then they opted to switch things up and call themselves Upsetting, in part because it is no longer cool for dudes who are no longer teens themselves to infer in any way that they’re interested in sex with teenagers. Fittingly, this switch also came as the band was in the process of changing up its sound away from the pop-punk sheen of its teen years to the emo of its members’ now early twentysomething lives. Overall, it’s a solid debut full-length for the young adults’ new label State Fair Records.