Our panel this week includes pop music critic Hunter Hauk, FD’s digital editor Christopher Mosley, Guidelive’s Tiney Ricciardi and the News’ writer and editor Dawn Burkes. Agree? Disagree? Share and weigh in on Facebook or Twitter.
Toadies, “In the Belly of a Whale”
The '90s stalwarts are prepping the release of their new album, Heretics, coming Sept. 18.
DB: Hmmmmm, Toadies. This cut is really well-produced without being too slick. It casts a new kind of spell for this group that’s been around long enough to gain fans, lose them and gain them back.
HH: Pleasant surprise for this listener, who’s grown plenty weary of local veterans continuing to pump out the same kind of material year after year. While Toadies should feel no shame for their past swamp-rock glory, I love hearing them apply those sinister vibes to an acoustic track. When I first heard this, I tweeted that it sounded like something on a True Detective trailer.
CM: The best thing I can say about this is that the Toadies are choosing to age gracefully with this lighter acoustic sound. That’s a wise decision for a band that formed in the late '80s. The writing is a bit more sophisticated than their more recognizable singles. Unfortunately “Do you wanna hold my hand?” as a lyric is a nearly unforgivable retread of their defining moments. Surely they could figure out a new way to seem menacing after all these years.
TR: I’m a big fan of the Toadies “new sound,” if you can call it that. The ‘90s iconic tunes have their place and time, but a little restriction did a lot of good in terms of adding complexity to the band’s sound. This song is creepy, fun, folky and well-rounded. Can’t wait to hear the rest of the album!
VIDEO, “New Immortals”
The once-Denton, now-Austin four-piece fronted by Daniel Fried will release its new LP, The Entertainers, on Jack White’s Third Man Records on Oct. 30.
DB: This reminds me of a latter-day Quentin Tarantino movie. It moves fast and doesn’t seem as if it’s going to end. But it doesn’t move you to do anything, if you can pick up what I’m laying down. I think I’d pogo to it live, though, just because.
HH: The second the long buildup transitioned into the hard-driving rhythm, I had the yearning to hear this song live and loud as hell. I can see, though, how the Third Man folks might have fallen in love with the recording itself: It’s meticulously crafted and tautly delivered. A pop song in rock’s clothing.
CM: Jack White’s Third Man Records is known for taking a 20th Century rock sound and packaging it safely for the mainstream; it’s the complete opposite of the especially antisocial approach taken by White’s old label, Sympathy for the Record Industry. Video is the perfect Texas act for the label, as they have a pristine approach to punk that looks more dangerous than it sounds. They are incomparably talented, but I prefer Wiccans, a much more reckless, related band. All that being said, this will likely be a hit for band and label alike.
TR: Let me start by saying this breed of rock isn’t my cup of tea; it reminds me a lot of my high school tastes that I grew out of a while ago. That being said I think it’s really cool to see a local band on Jack White’s record label! And I feel like they would put on one hell of a live performance.
It’s a track from the local pop singer’s newly released album, God’s Gay Sun.
DB: This song announces its intentions up front with a slithery beat made for dancing (or setting a scene). It’s of-the-moment R&B, which sometimes is more than passable. I wish the singer would clean up his diction and find himself in the song, but I could jam to this. That rap interlude is interesting.
HH: I recently interviewed Ulises for a profile that’s coming soon. I admire his writing and producing ambition -- there certainly aren’t enough acts making pure pop plays in this local scene. He’s got room for growth when it comes to vocal clarity and lyrical simplicity, but the guy has vision and promise that serve his material well. And the lyrical concept here of asking for a relationship forecast is solid.
CM: Production is one of the most important factors and this is a little homemade sounding for an R&B track. I expect Ulises to be a little wackier than this; after all, this is the artist who once dressed like a vegetable for one of his videos. The most successful moments are when the rap verse appears at the two-and-a-half-minute mark. The rhyming is somewhat clunky but charmingly so, and more in line with what makes Ulises likeable in the first place.
TR: I love this beat, very groovy! But the vocals aren’t as appealing; it’s like the singer is trying too hard to sound like the biggest names in radio pop. With a little more refining, I think it has to the potential to entice a mainstream audience.
Dorrough Music, “Go Season”
The Dallas rapper’s new single is in part a promotion for the upcoming locally-tied sports film Carter High.
DB: What you want from any song that’s advertised as the “title track” for a film about football is a bunch of bodacious bragging moments. This one harkens back a little to Nelly a bit, which is not a problem for me. You? Dorrough is all right with me. (Side note: You ever notice that where other rappers shout out their hood or rep their cities, Texas rappers shout out the whole state? Just saying.)
HH: Dorrough’s verses are a cut above those of the countless rappers you hear spitting over similarly arranged tracks. And I always appreciate the musicality of the choruses he includes with his productions. But this soundtrack tune won’t get repeated plays for me. I want Dorrough to get weirder. I know he’s capable of it.
CM: How refreshing: A local track made by professionals that sounds ready to stream. But it’s little surprise, Dorrough is now something of a Dallas rap veteran. I have a hard time taking sports-related tracks seriously unless they’re about boxing, but this is suitable soundtrack fodder. The song is featured in an upcoming film about Oak Cliff’s David W. Carter High School and its near-mythical football program. How many Dallasites can brag that their song is in a new Vivica A. Fox vehicle?
TR: Dorrough is one of the kings of the local hip-hop scene with good reason, and this song is no different. It has all the ingredients to make a catchy rap song -- a smooth, repetitive beat, drum line samples, melodic vocal cadences, shout outs to Texas. Yes, I am a fan.
Buffalo Black feat. Lord Byron, “Anomalies”
This is the first single from Buffalo Black’s forthcoming album Surrilla, coming out Sept. 11.
DB: I don’t click that heart button on SoundCould often, but when I do ... I’m in for good. These two should always work together. They both seem to bring the best out of the other. These lyrics are like a kick in the gut that’s hard enough to make your head hurt. Simply, I am a fan. I will be riding out to this and I plan on learning every word.
HH: Not to simply chime in after Dawn’s comment, but I’m with her on how this collaboration boosts the power of both rappers involved. Maybe it’s the result of some healthy competition in the booth, or maybe it’s the audacity of some of the lines, but this is one that stays with you.
CM: This is a great pairing between two of the most unique local artists out of this city in the past few years. The beat is a little straight-forward compared to what I’m used to from both, as Buffalo Black tends to have nearly chillwave/shoegaze levels of drowsiness on his backing tracks, while Lord Byron prefers a distorted, static-heavy sound. This is more 4/4 beat-driven than either of those approaches. Once again, I’m more of a fan of the rapping than the singing here and feel it would be fine without the refrains. Lord Byron raises eyebrows as usual with his blistering comment regarding Obama.
TR: How many times in one sitting can I say, “I love this beat!” But it’s true. This tune is melancholy, introspective, and smartly written. I can appreciate a deep hip-hop message and I found it in this one.