The 12 Best Local Releases of 2012 (So Far).
In today's music market — where there exists more music than can possibly be consumed, all of it readily available thanks to the Internet — release dates are something of a moot concern. These days, it doesn't matter when a song or album is released so much as when it clicks with its audience.
Still, release dates do offer a certain value — specifically as pertains to stories like this one, which aim to look back at a chunk of time and determine the best releases over that time. And, yes, that's exactly what we intend to do in this here space: look back at the first half of 2012 and determine the best local releases from the year's first six months.
It's been a pretty good first half of the year, too. A few old favorites have returned with prominence, sure, but mostly, it seems as if much of 2012 has been about North Texas discovering some much-welcomed new blood into its local music fold. It's also been, it seems, about embracing bands whose late 2011 releases went somewhat under the radar.
OK, no more set-up. Here are our choices for the 12 best local albums of the 2012 (so far), in no particular order.
Pinkish Black's debut, self-titled full-length is heavy, dark, foreboding and unapologetic. Released through local curio R. Loren's Handmade Birds label, the disc was earning critical acclaim even before its release. Rightfully so: It broods impressively — and even more remarkably once you realize that, only two years earlier, Pinkish Black's Daron Beck and Jon Teague were fully ingrained in their Great Tyrant project, only to be derailed by bassist Tommy Atkins' sudden death.
Let Me See It EP
Rodrigo Diaz has been on fire of late, revered in the local press for Track Meet's “slime raves” and the blurred sexual orientation on blast at these affairs. But make no mistake: Diaz's Ynfynyt Scroll musical efforts deserve more credit. The sounds showcased on this debut EP are staunchly aggressive, and Diaz's juke-meets-ballroom combination blends into an intoxicating brew.
The Body Wins
Immediately upon the release of her second proper full-length for local label Kirtland Records, the local folk darling was showered with acclaim alike for finding a new sound. But, for all the added electronic flourishes on this new record, Jaffe's still at her best when stripped down. Thankfully, this disc also boasts plenty of that.
There's more of a krautrock influence on Mind Spiders' sophomore full-length, but that shouldn't scare off fans of the stuff heard in the band's earlier material. If anything, these added traits only fill out Mind Spiders' catchy garage punk, while reaffirming Mark Ryan's place in the canon of great local songsmiths.
Bethan's full-length debut is as ambitious a release as seen out of North Texas in 2012. On this art-pop release, frontwoman Jessi James still shines through as a powerhouse vocalist with an impeccable ear for melody.
Cozy Hawk's power-pop debut is insanely melodic and catchy — and gritty in all of the right places to boot. Consider it proof that frontman Adam Bertholdi's earlier project, Gazelles, was less the sum of its parts and more the product of his impressive songwriting chops.
When Spookeasy that their songs sounded Spoon's, they hardly ran from that fact. Instead, they did the opposite, enlisting Spoon multi-instrumentalist Eric Harvey to produce their tracks. Even though Harvey had never produced another band prior, the results worked wonders, showing off Spookeasy as a Spoon-influenced outfit, sure, but one that can stand capably on they own, as well.
Leon The Professional
Rapper Leon McKenzie isn't originally from Dallas — and he doesn't sound like it. Perhaps that's what makes his East Coast-indebted mixtape release sound so refreshing. That and his forceful, unrestrained vocal delivery which arrives over various heavy-hitting (and, as is a mixtape's nature, swiped) beats, and Wu-Tang Clan-influenced intros.
John Singer Sergeant
John Singer Sergeant
John Dufilho's an accomplished man, having risen to prominence in his own Deathray Davies and I Love Math outfits before joining the Apples in Stereo. His wide-ranging chops are on full display here, too. But you won't hear him singing. Instead, you'll hear folks Rhett Miller, Ben Kweller, Sarah Jaffe and others elevating this album to another level.
Straightforward rock 'n' roll is what you'll hear on this long-awaited, self-released and self-titled debut full-length from this band of Northeasterners who moved to Dallas to give music a go. Raucous in all the right places, these longhairs clearly know what they're doing.
Electronic artist Dan Rogers quietly released this debut back in April, only since popping up sporadically for the occasional live performance. No matter. The bouncing, sample-based soundscapes on this alluring and endlessly enticing short-player make for ideal headphone listening.
Into The Sea
Blending sweet cooing, electronic embellishments and a whole lot of distortion, the Blackstone Rangers' debut release is a short one, clocking in at just around 20 minutes. But the band makes the most of its time on the release, taking listeners on an undulating journey and setting themselves up nicely as one of the region's bright spots to watch as the rest of the year plays out.