Hand Drawn Records Presses Vinyl, Somebody's Darling Eyes Nashville and Astronautalis Is Back.

Last year was not a great one for album sales.

Digital sales were down nine percent, and only four artists (Taylor Swift, Jason Aldean, Ariana Grande and Sam Smith) saw their 2014 releases certified platinum.

Nevertheless, vinyl sales were actually up close to 50 percent from last year's numbers, with over nine million units sold in 2014. This continues a several-years-long trend — and a big reason why local record label Hand Drawn Records has announced the launch of a new manufacturing arm, Hand Drawn Pressing.

Reads a portion of the announcement from that camp: “We believe in the art and listening experience of vinyl, but don't think it needs to be so hard to press a record. That's why we decided to simplify the ordering process for our fellow artists. We offer three clearly priced vinyl packages, each containing the best possible combinations of distinctive packaging and product…By reducing your involvement in the minutiae of manufacturing, you will be freed up to focus on the more creative aspects of your album… Our simplified, artist-centric approach to vinyl record production alleviates the confusion, and allows you to focus your time and attention where it matters the most — the creative process, writing and playing music, and connecting with fans.”

In any case, they should have no trouble drumming up some business right away, as there are tons of new local albums on the horizon. A few notable ones include Blixaboy, who is currently working on his fourth album; Kelly Clarkson, who is set to release a follow-up to 2011's Stronger later this year; and rapper Astronautalis, who has been in town for several days finishing up the mixes of his latest record with John Congleton. Promises that locally-tied emcee via social media: His performance this Saturday, January 10, at Three Links will feature tons of brand new material.

Then there's Daniel Hopkins, who, nearly two years after outing himself as the entity behind the previously anonymous indie-folk outfit Denim Wonder, is finally moving forward with recording a debut under that name. Hopkins is currently raising funds via Kickstarter to make that happen.

Also ahead is a new mini-album from the locally tied and newly re-dubbed Young Ejecta, which earns its release on January 27 via Driftless. Earlier today, the duo premiered the album's third single, “Into Your Heart” via Gorilla vs Bear. Check it out below.

Then on February 15, Black Swan will release its debut EP. The duo is notable in that it features producer Vohnbeatz (read: the 17-year-old son of Symbolyc One) and 17-year-old emcee ATG (short for Alex the Great). Ahead of that release, you can check out the Jeff Adair-directed video for the duo's debut single “Drop Me Down.”

And like he always seems to be, Adair's been busy of late, also directing the following video for Star Music. Prior to branching out as a solo artist, Star performed with the South Dallas crew SFS Souf. This debut track, “If There's An Answer,” also features production from Ish D. Check it out.

Then there's the outside-the-box-thinking young rapper Terrence Spectacle, who — get this — actually landed on someone other than Adair to shoot his new video for his Nu Dallas track “King's Cup.” Rather, Parker Foster directed the following clip for the most promising young rapper we should all be keeping an eye on this year.

Another new, locally-relevant tune just made its debut this morning via Earmilk. The song in question finds Sarah Jaffe's “Revelation,” from last fall's Don't Disconnect all sped up and given a trap twist at the hands of Blue, the Misfit. Check it out below. The pair will share a bill, along with Sam Lao on February 13, at Trees.

Still more new local hip-hop comes courtesy of Buffalo Black, who premiered a new track of his own via DJ Booth. The cut, called “History,” comes from Black's forthcoming Surrilla EP, which will earn its release this March.

Moving on, it looks like Somebody's Darling is taking a page out the Seryn playbook by booking a “farewell” show at Kessler Theater on Saturday, January 24, before hightailing it to the greener pastures of Nashville. Hey, at least they'll know some folks when they get there. Of course, when one door closes, another opens, and per that cliche, that bill will also see promising psych-pop outfit Natural Anthem, making its live debut.

Just two days earlier, another promising young act, The Misteries — y'know, the band behind our favorite song of 2014 — will play its second-ever show when it opens up for Goodnight Ned at The Prophet Bar on January 22.

There's more big news for Misteries drummer McKenzie Smith, too. His other band — some ragtag bunch called Midlake — will see its Jason Lee-directed film, Midlake: Live in Denton, make its Texas premiere at Denton's Campus Theatre as part of next month's Thin Line Fest. A Q&A with Lee and Midlake's Eric Pulido will follow the screening, and an after-party at Dan's Silverleaf will wind things down. More info, tickets and other films and band announcements for the February 18-22 film and music festival can be found here.

Meanwhile, back in Dallas, the city-owned classical station WRR has announced a string of changes that it says will both make the station sound more local and boost ratings. Per
a report on AllAccess.com, the station plans on dropping 15 hours of syndicated programming, as wells as non-music programming like traffic reports, and half its commercial breaks. The move will allow WRR to add longer, more substantial pieces to its playlists, to the tune of a bonus four hours of music programming a week.

Elsewhere, Parquet Courts (who will play The Late Show with David Letterman tonight), Ronnie Fauss and Old 97's earned spots on Texas Monthly's list of top “Texas” songs of 2014; Crown the Empire was voted “artist of the year” in Alternative Press' reader's poll; Lil Twist leaked a new, Justin Bieber-featuring slow jam from his upcoming Golden Child 2 mixtape; and Parquet Courts, St. Vincent and Reverend Horton Heat were announced as performers at this year's Coachella festival.

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