New Music From Mothership, OK Sweetheart, Sandovall, Spike Chester, Jesse Etc., Jessie Frye, Sarah Sellers, Lili Blessing, Drawer Devils, Jayson Lyric, Kemist Da Kidd and More.
Welcome to Songs of the Week, where we hip you to all the new local releases you should be caring about. By putting them all together here in one place, our hope is that you can spend less time searching for relevant new releases and more time giving each one of these jams the proper shine they so deserve. OK? OK.
Wyatt Rosser, Sarah Ruth, Aaron Gonzales, Stefan Gonzalez — Asukubus.
RIYL: Gregorian chants, experimental theater and nature.
What else you should know: A group of Dallas’ most notable experimental musicians gather here on this short-player that, at least on its Bandcamp posting, asks that listeners experience it from start-to-finish and on high-quality headphones. We’ll grant this release that much credit, too: It’s a bizarre, if oddly compelling, listen; and the more you fully commit yourself to indulging its intricacies, the more it will reward you.
Spike Chester – “Catch a Fire.”
RIYL: Starting a fire without a spark.
What else you should know: It’s a rare thing when an artist submits a track our way and promises that “the music speaks for itself,” but this single from young Dallas rapper Spike Chester lives up to that billing. The beat’s got heft, and so too do the verses and hooks. We look forward to catching more from this up-and-comer.
Jesse Etc. – “Tightropes.”
RIYL: The Postal Service.
What else you should know: Back when we last posted about this new Dallas singer-songwriter in September, we remarked about the obvious influence that Ben Gibbard’s Postal Service efforts had over the EP he was then pushing. This new single follows along that same path, although there are flourishes throughout it that also recall a little bit of Passion Pit’s Chunk of Change EP, and that’s a good look, for sure.
RIYL: Passing the torch.
What else you should know: This weekend, as Poor David’s Pub celebrates 40 years of hosting intimate concerts in Dallas, one door will close as another opens. Venerable Dallas-sprung singer-songwriter Sara Hickman will perform what is reportedly her last-ever live show, and she’ll be joined on the weekend’s bill by her eldest daughter, the 20-year-old Lili Blessing, who’ll be performing cuts from her own debut LP, a pleasantly spare collection of intimate and mostly acoustic pop songs called Lifeline that does her family’s lineage quite proud.
Sarah Sellers – “Is This Letting Go.”
RIYL: Debating whether to capitalize on the past.
What else you should know: Former American Idol contestant Sellers recently passed this single along our way — the first release from a new EP she’s wrapping — and it’s the latest in her ongoing attempt to find life after reality television. She’s finding some success, too, as her November-released video for her old “Gone Through Hell” single recently surpassed 100,000 views on YouTube, which ain’t no joke. You’ve got to respect Sellers’ hustle: The Dallas area hasn’t lacked for contestants appearing on Idol and/or The Voice over the years, but only a handful have been able to parlay that kind of exposure into any sustainable career opportunities. Sellers is clearly dead-set on being among the exceptions, and we’d say her increasingly progressive sojourns into electro-pop bode well for her.
Jessie Frye – “Lucky Star.”
RIYL: Depressing versions of great songs.
What else you should know: I’m fairly torn on Jessie Frye. She’s got real performance chops, and she pretty clearly seems to revel in the minor celebrity she enjoys up Denton way. But she almost never performs outside of the comforts of that college town, she’s fairly reserved as a songwriter and, while I can respect the Tori Amos field she’s almost always mining, I for one would appreciate her taking her music in a more visceral, goth-rock direction — one that falls in line with her most recent visual aesthetic. Alas, this Madonna cover doesn’t really give me much confidence that she will as it removes everything that’s fun about the classic original and replaces it with a mostly drab window-dressing. The idea makes sense, I suppose. But this ain’t no Johnny Cash doing “Hurt.”
Drawer Devils — “Screaming Rummy.”
RIYL: Late bloomers.
What else you should know: This is the lead single off of Drawer Devil’s Hail Satin! debut LP for Dreamy Life Records, which is about a reliable source of quality punk as you’re likely to find these days in North Texas or anywhere else. Not counting the bongos that appear in the song’s second half, this is a fairly straightforward effort from a band that may be young, even if it’s members decidedly ain’t.
Kemist Da Kidd — “All I Kno.”
RIYL: Knowing what you know.
What else you should know: Kemist Da Kidd falls into the category of Dallas rappers who only seems to pop up intermittently, bu should be more of a fixture. This new fast-paced, pop culture-referencing single comes ready-made with a video, and it’s right away of a quality that far more regularly seen rappers on the scene can only hope to one day hit.
OK Sweetheart — “Pranks.”
RIYL: Circa 2005 Vh1.
What else you should know: It’s been a few years since we heard from OK Sweetheart, which launched in Denton before heading out west for the rainier climes of Seattle. But now the band seems back on the promising track upon which it once ran. This new single is a delightful little pop romp, and a nice follow-up to the band’s January-released music video for its song “Boat.” Fun fact about that video: It stars Saturday Night Live‘s Beck Bennett, go figure.
Jayson Lyric — “Kings Landing.”
RIYL: Game of Thrones references, but just barely.
What else you should know: Jayson Lyric’s The Lyric Show was one of the Dallas rap scene’s pleasant surprises in 2016, and this new single comes so close to being the type of song that could put a rapper of Lyric’s abilities over the top. The DangerousMCs-produced beat plays like an early Kanye West production, and Lyric maneuvers nicely over its refrains. Alas, his verses, which aren’t altogether too different from what Bobby Sessions was going for on his “Black Neighborhood” track, sound half-a-step behind the beat, just by a hair keeping this track from being the full-fledged fire that it should be. Well, that and the fact that dude barely references Game of Thrones outside of the song title. Still, it’s nice to hear the guy’s still hungry.
RIYL: Beefy riffage.
What else you should know: Man, those Mothership boys are killing it these days. True road warriors in every sense, this stoner metal trio is one of the few Dallas acts that can actually back up any claims of being big overseas. Already fixtures of the European metal festival circuit, Mothership is looking to make a similar splash closer to home with the release of this psych-tinged LP, which cares little how long it takes to get where it’s going and is perhaps all the better for it. Loud, riff-adoring and filled with lyrical references to the band’s many classic influences, this release sounds very much like a band starting to come into its own. Here’s hoping that means we’ll see more Mothership-headlined dates around town, then? Far too often in Dallas, this band gets slapped onto bills opening up for once-weres. It’s high time Mothership gave in to demand and just started headlining more of its own gigs. Give the people what they want, boys!
Sandovall — “Now.”
RIYL: Radio pop.
What else you should know: The babyfaced Jose Sandoval has been quietly released R&B-tinged pop tracks for the past few years, but this song — and its accompanying video that dropped today — stands head and shoulders above his earlier efforts as a real winner. It’s catchy as all get out and vibe-y in all the ways that terrestrial radio programmers are digging these days. If this song finds its way into the right hands — a real possibility considering Sandovall is working with Erykah Badu collaborator Rob Free these days — there’s plenty of reason to believe this song could earn itself some radio play. It certainly has plenty of crossover appeal.
Cover image of Sandovall by Daniel Raybon.