The Most Anticipated Local Albums For The Rest of 2014.
Though the first half of 2014 has already seen more than its share of killer new local albums released, we're of the opinion that the best is yet to come.
While that might sound like a pretty bold prediction — especially given that Old 97's have already released one of the best albums of its career this year — it's an opinion we think bears out when one considers the list of upcoming releases that should be on your radar.
Here's what we're most looking forward to hearing the second half of 2014, complete with preview streams and tentative release dates where applicable.
Bummer Vacation (July 19)
After parting ways with Dallas margarita punk outfit Sealion last fall, bassist Paul Hernandez relocated to Fort Worth and began plotting his Creative Differences LP. There are several indicators that his Bummer Vacation debut is more than just a rebound album, though — among them that Hernandez quickly brought members of the long-dormant dream-gaze act Skeleton Coast and Fort Worth garage rock mainstays War Party into his fold and tabbed producer du jour Jordan “Son of Stan” Richardson to helm his recording sessions. The tracks we've heard fall somewhere between the groove and melody of Richardson's patented brand of divorce pop and dreamy goodness of Skeleton Coast's own superb debut. The first chance to grab a digital copy of this one will come at a July 19 show at Lola's.
When Sealion releases its third album this summer — and its first since signing with Portland's Hovercraft Records — it'll once again be doing so with a new bassist. And maybe for the better this time: The band's newest member, Sam Villavert, brought with her an arsenal of well-honed backing vocals previously missing from Sealion's typically high-energy sound. The third time around, the band's also found the confidence to slow things down, draw things out and rely more on grooves and sinister atmospheres than it ever has in its hook-filled past.
Cozy Hawks (Summer)
Almost exactly two years removed from the release of Cozy Hawks' undeniably infectious debut, the Denton power-pop trio is set to release its follow-up any day now. Over the course of the past several months, the outfit has leaked a couple of singles from its Pan-Pacific LP, which was originally supposed to earn its release this spring. Judging from those tracks alone, it would appear Cozy Hawks has done the damn near impossible in somehow churning out even catchier singles than the last go-round. Which is all the more impressive when one considers the band's debut earned a spot on our list of the best local albums of 2012.
Goodnight Ned (July 29)
Since releasing its so-called “fringe folk” debut back in 2012, Dallas' Goodnight Ned has honed its chops with a hefty load of live gigs and refined its sound to include nods to The Band, The Rolling Stones and the fellow harmony-rich retro-rockers Dr. Dog. It's a formula that seems to be working, taking the band from relative obscurity to playing the city's biggest festivals in less than two years. Throw in the fact that three of the band's members each contributed new material to this album, and you've got a formula that helps keep things varied enough to avoid the trappings of a boring, folk-heavy long player.
The Phuss (Summer)
While early records from The Phuss seemed to take their cues from bands like the White Stripes and the Toadies, the band has seemed intent this past year to carve out a niche of loud, fast garage rock all its own. At its recent performances, the band has been playing tracks from its upcoming debut for the Magnetic Eye label, and those cuts have proven to hit harder than anything the group has done before. If that doesn't get you going, then perhaps a preview of On the Prowl's track list will?
Sarah Jaffe (August 19)
One thing you can say about Sarah Jaffe is that, even though she's been arguably the biggest name in the DFW scene for three years running now, she's never been content to rest on her laurels. With every album she puts out, there's a distinct and calculated progression. Had she kept making the kind of indie folk that made 2010's Suburban Nature a breakout hit, she might still be considered one of the genre's heavy-hitters. Our prediction, though? Her work with Midlake's McKenzie Smith on this fall's Don't Disconnect LP will make her a big name, period.
Somebody's Darling (August)
In the three years between Somebody's Darling's 2009 self-titled debut and 2012's Jank City Shakedown, guitarist Dave Ponder tells us that the band logged nearly 300 live performances. It's a pace that the band has somehow maintained while working on its third full-length, which will come out this August. You simply can't play that many shows without becoming one of the region's most well-oiled machines. And judging from the batch of new cuts the band pulled out at our last Sound Select show, it appears as though one of Dallas' most popular live acts is set to take another huge leap forward.
A.Dd+ (Late August)
Earlier this week, Paris Pershun and Slim Gravy teased us somewhat, revealing that their collaborative A.Dd+ project should have a new EP coming by the end of the summer. And one thing is clear: When A.Dd+ raps, area hip-hop heads listen. On debut 2009 release The Power of the Tongue, the group established itself as an outfit worth taking seriously; on 2011's When Pigs Fly the group released arguably Dallas' single greatest hip-hop album to date; and on last year's DiveHiFlyLo, the group maintained its place at the top of the local rap heap. No word yet on what to expect of this new one, but with a new crew of rappers rising in Dallas and threatening to swipe A.Dd+'s crown, expect the twosome to attempt to push everyone else back in line.
Party Static (TBD)
Since seemingly coming out of nowhere with one of our favorite releases of 2013, this bratty, party punk outfit has also grown into one of Dallas' most entertaining, if not flat-out best live acts. The band is already putting the finishing touches on its next EP, one that should take absolutely nobody by surprise. Consider yourself fairly warned.
Son of Stan (Late Summer)
Last month, we caught up with Jordan Richardson, who told us what to expect from his second Son of Stan offering. Spoiler alert: It's going to be a skuzzy, skuzzy summer. When this one comes out in late August or early September, you'll hear how much difference having some live shows under one's belt really makes. Look no further than Georgia's lead track, “The Lady That's Around Me,” for a taste of the band's newfound vigor.
Daniel Markham (TBD)
As good as last summer's Ruined My Life was — good enough, anyway to end up on our list of the year's best local releases — it was largely a solo effort for Markham, who played nearly all of the instruments on that one himself. For this follow-up — an album he's calling Pretty Bitchin' — members of his live backing band (read: Ryan Thomas Becker, Grady Sandlin and Tony Ferraro) played a larger role. As for what the songs themselves will sound like? Considering Markham's played a number of Big Star tribute sets the past year and released a death metal side project, well, they could go either way.
Quaker City Night Hawks (TBD)
Back in January, Fort Worth's Quaker City Night Hawks released a two-song EP called Texas Heavy — a pair of castoffs recorded during sessions for 2013's Honcho that didn't quite fit the vibe of the rest of the album. As the title implies, the twofer shows off a heavy, raw, hard rock swagger that comes closer than ever matching the band's live energy. Of course, we only bring this up because the band's already said its soon-to-be-released third LP leans way more Texas Heavy's direction than it does Honcho, which is just fine by us.
Is it ever a bad thing when The Marked Men's Jeff Burke and Mark Ryan collaborate? When reckon not. The pair's Radioactivity project released its debut this past fall, and it was full of the same sugary punk perfection the group and its offshoots (read: Mind Spiders, Bad Sports) have released in steady doses over the past few years. Now, not only is the group already working on a follow-up to that one, but it just released a new seven-inch, which you can stream above.
Theater Fire (TBD)
There was a time in the early 2000s when The Theater Fire was, arguably, the biggest — or, at least, the most consistent — band in town. That, of course, was over a decade ago. In the years since, the band's members have taken on other projects — perhaps most notably guitarist and co-vocalist Curtis Heath's turn composing film scores. Anyhow, after so many quiet years, we'd hazard to guess that these guys wouldn't be giving it another go unless they had something good to say.
The Misteries (TBD)
Based on the sheer number of bands that pianist Daniel Creamer plays sideman in, it's a wonder he's got any time at all to co-front his newest project, The Misteries. So it stands to say that this one might come out later rather than sooner. But one look at the band's pedigree — which includes drummer McKenzie Smith (Midlake), area production extraordinaire Beau Bedford (The Roomsounds, Larry gEE and Dovetail) as well as a smattering of Creamer's Texas Gentlemen bandmates — and there's no doubt that, whenever these guys finally do release an album, it's going to be pretty damn great. Until then, the band's lone released track, a lighthearted ode to their drug dealer, is a welcome consolation.
Erykah Badu (TBD)
A few months back, Ms. Badu traveled to Africa with the OkayAfrica crew to film an installment of its “The Roots Of …” short documentary series. During that process, Badu discovered that her ancestry reached all the way back to a tribe in Cameroon. Not long thereafter, she returned to Africa to begin work on her sixth studio album. While she hasn't yet said whether the LP will represent the third installment of her New Amerykah series, it should prove an interesting listen just the same. Whether stripping in Dealey Plaza, performing for the King of Swaziland or collaborating with divisive artists like Tyler the Creator, Badu's proven herself over the years an artist who doesn't shy away from controversy in favor of putting out forward-thinking, provocative art. Unfortunately, though, this is another one that may or may not earn its release by the year's end.