Editor’s note: Welcome to a new regular feature in which five Dallas Morning News staffers give their first impressions of new local tracks. Our panel this week includes pop music critic Hunter Hauk, Guidelive’s Tiney Ricciardi, FD’s digital editor Christopher Mosley, the News’ writer and editor Dawn Burkes, and Briefing editor Erin Booke. Agree? Disagree? Share and weigh in on Facebook or Twitter.
Larry g(EE), ‘Got to Have It’ featuring the Affections
This the first in a series of special single releases local singer Larry g(EE) is doing online every Friday.
HH: Nobody’s trying too hard on this tune, and while there’s nothing wrong with Larry’s near-freestyle vocals, the background singers and horn flourishes make me happiest.
CM: Some very strong backing from vocal trio The Affections makes this track, along with a confident rhythm section. The guitars-both acoustic and electric-distract from the throwback falsetto attempted by Larry Gee and company, as they come crashing in through the mix. A slight rework with some electric piano would help this breathe a little. I should also mention that there are 126,875 results if you search for “Got to Have It” in AllMusic.com.
TR: To sum this song up in one word, I’d say it’s seductive. Deviating from the full force funk vibe, Larry and the gang give me more of a sultry Latin vibe in this tune. Someone hand me a drink and a dance partner.
EB: No offense to Dallas, but I can’t believe this guy is from here. So cool. I want to drive around all weekend to this song.
DB: This song makes me groove my thang, and that’s even before the vocals kick in.
Telegraph Canyon, ‘Why Let It Go’
The Fort Worth band expands its sound and gets a little poppier on a new album and single. Read more about that in Friday's Guide.
HH: This would fit wonderfully on a playlist with some stuff from the Arcade Fire’s most recent records. Like that band, Telegraph Canyon seems to be having a little more fun than it used to.
CM: You have to wonder about a band that changes its sound so drastically. Telegraph Canyon went from being a chanting folk act to something much closer to contemporary radio rock. While this is a carbon copy of the Arcade Fire’s sound circa 2010, it is also an improvement.
TR: Whoa, did I just put on Arcade Fire? That bridge sounds like something straight off The Suburbs. Strangely this song makes miss some of the folkier nuances of old school Telegraph Canyon. That being said, I’m now definitely intrigued to hear the rest of the band’s new album.
EB: Ooh! I like this. I think this band has listened to a lot of the Police and watched a lot of Knight Rider.
DB: I thought this sounded like a gospel lament from the first note. It ended that way, too. Long live Jim James.
Carmen Rodgers, “Charge” featuring Anthony David
The tune from Dallas-rooted R&B singer Rodgers’ third album Stargazer also features Atlanta artist Anthony David.
HH: Trying not to get distracted by the steamy moments of the just-released video, I’m impressed with how well Carmen’s vocals reflect the lyrics - easy, organic and love-drunk.
CM: This is startlingly polished, to the point that it’s a little too perfect. You could imagine it playing in a department store. R&B has changed drastically in the five years since Carmen Rodgers released her last record (The Bitter Suite), and this might benefit from the more minimal production heard in the Dividends track elsewhere on this list.
TR: The definition of baby-making music. Love it!
EB: This is like the theme song of a sexy Disney movie. Innocent and sweet, yet very adult.
DB: She had me at “featuring Anthony David.” Too easy.
Matthew J and His Wheels, ‘Highway’
This is the solo project of Matthew Powers from the Dallas punk band Street Arabs.
HH: While this kind of boozy Stones salute doesn’t excite all my senses, I do appreciate the approach, especially the way this dude eschews any attempt at staying on key.
CM: I’m with the others on the twang issue. It’s pretty forced. But then again, had he not pushed it, I may not have noticed the song. It probably works better live where those high notes would likely get a little lost in the shuffle.
TR: I really latched on to the keys and harmonica parts in this song. The super-twang, however, isn’t doing it for me.
EB: This must be the lost track from Bob Dylan’s Texas road trip. More harmonica, less singing.
DB: I. Can’t. Stand. The. Rain. But I’d give it a loud yell, live, just so he’d get on with it.
The Dividends, 'Summer Glo' featuring Sam Lao
LINK: Listen via Okayplayer.
The latest single from the partnership between S1 and Sarah Jaffe features a rap breakdown from their fellow Dallas artist Sam Lao.
HH: Once again, S1 and Jaffe seem to combine their greatest strengths into a lingering hook; Lao's laid-back verse greatly complements their vibe. And this particular style of tune is highly relevant right now — think the Weeknd, Miguel and so on.
CM: A star producer with two of Dallas' most recognizable names. Each personality is very clearly defined, which is not always the case with collaborative tracks. Somehow Sam Lao always steals the show, whether she's rapping or talking on a music panel. S1's somber sound reminds me of Noah "40" Shebib (Drake's producer) even though Symbolic One is just as much of an industry veteran.
TR: This is my idea of a perfect laid-back summer jam; sexy, well constructed and not over thought. Jaffe and Lao's vocals lend themselves to the free flowing nature of the song. I see myself putting this one on repeat.
EB: I wanted to like this more than I did. It's actually a bit nauseating to me, like watching a bad toothpaste commercial. Get on with it.
DB: There's a lot going on here, as if they were trying to get it all in the one track. But without everything and the kitchen sink, I might not have gotten that killer stutter step in the beat.