Our panel this week includes pop music critic Hunter Hauk, Briefing editor Jamie Hancock, GuideLive’s Tiney Ricciardi and the News’ writer and editor Dawn Burkes. Agree? Disagree? Share and weigh in on Facebook or Twitter.
Bobby Sessions, “Black Neighborhood”
The Dallas rapper recently released his latest full-length album, LOA.
HH: As naturalistic as someone ranting off the cuff from their car, but also delivered with a musicality that enriches the beat. This is somethin’ special. I’d like to see a live crowd get into it.
TR: Bobby Sessions’ vocal style feels slightly reggae, which adds an unlikely dimension to a rather intense song. Melody and creativity play well together here.
DB: This calls for some good headphones! We’ve all driven through these neighborhoods, and if we were as talented as truth teller Bobby Sessions, this is that feeling you have if you drive slow through them. Just a day in the life ... I can think of two or three politicians I need to send this gem to right now. This is cold. And hard.
JH: At first I didn’t like this one because I felt like I was being yelled at. I prefer songs with more lyrical flow. But as the song continued, I began to appreciate it for the point he’s trying to make. This is what you see in these neighborhoods, and this is what happens, expressed musically. It’s an original and creative method.
Rikki Blu, “Pleasant Grove”
The rapper’s new EP and its title track are both named after his hometown.
HH: The vocal shows skill in that he shifts from mood to mood quickly and seamlessly. But I’ve got to be honest: I wasn’t completely sold until we arrived at that gorgeous extended ending. After breakneck rapping, you’re given the chance to breathe and let it marinate.
TR: From the moment the music started, I was entranced by the beat. The smoothness is delightfully counterbalanced by the harshness in the rapping style. Unfortunately the track feels a little short; I was ready to keep it rolling.
DB: The music does not prepare you for the lyrics that are to come. It’s as if the soothing beat is there just to lull you into a false sense of security, and then the refrain of “Welcome to the Grove, n-word” hits you like a call to arms. This is a confessional, honey. No two ways about it. Mama likes.
JH: The beat, the lyrics and his delivery of them all help convey what he’s trying to tell you about where he grew up. I like the smooth beat, his relentless lyrical style and the breakdown at the end. Like Tiney, I wish it hadn’t ended so soon.
50 Cent and Post Malone, “Tryna F--- Me Over”
A guest spot on a 50 Cent mixtape track is the latest highlight for Post Malone, the Grapevine High grad who made a splash with his 2015 breakout single, “White Iverson.”
HH: I’m as intrigued by Post Malone as anyone who’s discovered the deceptive magic of “White Iverson,” so it’s thrilling to hear him blend into a typical 50 Cent defensive anthem. His guest spot is all gritted teeth, far away from “saucin’,” but it works. He’s seen fame come fast. People already wanna see him get got, for goodness’ sake.
TR: This song bleeds 50 Cent from the first note. It’s badass that a local guy is collaborating with such a big name, but I don’t necessarily feel anything from this song. However, if I heard it on the radio (which, let’s be honest, is where it belongs), I’d be sure to brag about it.
DB: Y’all ain’t ready. This could become my new anthem, replacing Trick Daddy’s “Shut Up.” Oh, Hunter, you need something more substantive? How about this? Though Post Malone sounds a little like Akon in this, doing that sing-songy rap-like thingy with heavy bass that’s burning up the charts, somehow he’s easier on my ears. Whatever. I looked him up to hear more. #justsaying
JH: I’m feelin’ this. Post Malone does sound like Akon, who I’m kind of sick of hearing on every track, but he has enough of an original flair to his flow that’s different enough to keep me interested. And with 50 Cent doing his usual thing, I find nothing wrong with it.
Sad Cops, “Dirty Sheets”
It’s the latest from Coppell’s critically acclaimed teenage trio, expected to release its first LP later this year.
HH: Each confidently delivered lyrical line, no matter how angsty, compelled me to keep leaning in. But the “stop telling me” refrain came just when it needed to. Such skilled writing from writers so young, sigh. And they don’t only do the acoustic thing well -- a few disparate styles make their previous EP worthy of your ears.
TR: Not to crush these boys’ spirits, but I gotta give this song a big nope. This brings me back to high school. It’s cool though -- teenage angst usually leads to better bands later in life.
DB: (What’s with that band photo? And why does it belie their torment? These are some of the questions I have!) This song is so fragile, like it’ll break if I press play too hard. The strong acoustic guitar gives it a coffeehouse vibe, but the lyrics are from some place of displaced anger. Quick, hug that kid.
JH: Remember the kids from High Fidelity, The Kinky Wizards, who put out an EP with John Cusack’s help? These guys remind me of them! And you know, I didn’t understand their appeal, either. Sad Cops, why are you so sad? Like Dawn said, hug that kid, or maybe shake him by the shoulders. Enjoy your youth!
Mercury Rocket, “Oh Yeah”
The Dallas three-piece rock band will release the LP MINDBENDERS on Jan. 31.
HH: Pleasant overall, if a little ho-hum after the first verse and chorus. The vocal gets so delicate at times that it threatens to flutter away. Maybe live and louder, it’d be different?
TR: There are moments with an interesting bass or guitar hook, but the majority of this three minutes bore me. Don’t take it personally; I’m not a huge fan of psych-rock.
DB: I wanted to like this just because of the name of the band and the name of the song. It took me about 30 seconds to get up the nerve to press play and then it took all I could to get through the first 23 seconds of the song, but it was OK. There was more melody here than I’m used to from bands with the tags of “shoegaze” and “space rock,” which was good for me. I don’t know how good it is for them, though. I’m a finisher with bounce-back-ability, though, so I powered through it. Tighten up, yo.
JH: I couldn’t make out any of the lyrics except “Oh Yeah,” and that kind of bothered me. They sound a little Breeders-esque, and that’s cool, but I think they could push harder and really rock out. If you do hold out to the end, there’s a creepy laugh...I don’t understand if there’s a point to that or it’s just for ... fun?