Our panel this week includes pop music critic Hunter Hauk and Guidelive writers Dawn Burkes, Tiney Ricciardi and Brentney Hamilton. Agree? Disagree? Share and weigh in on Facebook or Twitter.
Ronnie Heart, “Smoovie”
It’s a new single from the pop-funk performer’s just-released album, You(r) Mine.
HH: Heart has a Prince-ly vibe in concert, but this tune is more likely to draw in fans of retro-dance acts like Chromeo. No matter the influences at play in his new material, it’s good to see local artists putting out such polished, infectious pop music. Now we just need to get the dude on a bigger stage with a couple of backup dancers ...
TR: I’m a huge fan of Ronnie’s ostentatious energy. It’s contagious in this song and his others. We need more bands that conjure images of Price, both sonically and physically, like Ronnie does. I’ll have this song on repeat all summer long, guaranteed.
DB: You can hear all of his influences. Lucky for him, it’s the early Michael and Prince that stand out. But then the song goes in a direction all his own. That’s a good thing, if a little unsettling. Love the title of this track!
BH: Walking (or perhaps dancing) that delicate line between interesting complexity and catchy pop, it satisfies the need for something to listen to alone with headphones at the coffeeshop and the need for something over the speakers in the car with friends. That’s hard to pull off in a single song.
Sarah Jaffe, “Did David Feel Like This?”
The Dallas singer-songwriter released this new David Bowie-inspired track late last month.
HH: This is a sonic and thematic Bowie tribute that’s more than fitting — it’s introspective, dramatic, beautiful. I’ve said this plenty of times before; it’s been thrilling to observe Jaffe’s musical moves through the years. She keeps us all guessing, just like the hero of this song.
TR: I love that this song has a David Bowie-like backbone, but true to form, Jaffe makes the tune uniquely her own lyrically. It’s dreamy and nightmarish all at the same time. Overall beautiful, just beautiful.
DB: You feel everything she’s feeling in this song. Only the best can do that. What a beautiful tribute.
BH: The understated, detached intro that swells and morphs into a dreamy electronic instrumental takes every play from Bowie’s 1970s book, but while that influence is forefront, the lyrics’ delicate wisdom and sympathetic ruminations keep the tribute from ever feeling derivative or unearned.
Parquet Courts, “Dust”
It’s a single from the North Texas-rooted indie band’s album, Human Performance, out April 8.
HH: Hearing this made me think of another all-time favorite rock tune with a limited melody — the Pretenders’ “My City Was Gone.” Maybe it’s the matter-of-fact vocal delivery in “Dust,” or the expertly executed instrumental breaks. Point is I’m digging it, and could probably listen on a loop, as a soundtrack to existential dread or whatever.
TR: Is it just me or does this track seem less angsty than Parquet Courts’s past releases? I love it! Reminds me of a modern day Doors; plus the message is great.
DB: It reminds me of some old-school, under-the-radar Woodstock-y, subversive joint that you forgot about until you heard it again some early morning on an infomercial you were watching because you couldn’t find the remote. But you didn’t mind, because that was your jam anyway. And then you went to sleep, and it was still playing in your head when you woke up.
BH: Like actual dust, it’s generally inoffensive. There seems like there might be an interesting build in the last minute or so, but it kind of fizzles.
Quaker City Night Hawks, “Good Evening”
The Fort Worth band will release the new album, El Astronauta, on May 20.
HH: Too bad the show Justified isn’t still on the air - this would’ve been a shoo-in for its soundtrack. Or maybe not, since the lyrics are all about the Hawks’ hometown of Fort Worth. Just when you start to get a little restless with the verse’s structure, the power behind the chorus takes you by surprise. Good reason to check out these dudes live - you won’t be disappointed.
TR: Dark and brooding, this song comes out of the gate under a shadow of fuzzy instrumentals. I dig the vibe, but I can’t help thinking I’ve heard this song before. (See Goodnight Ned’s “State Line.”)
DB: This song can fit in with so many bleak shows on the TV landscape now, so never fear, Hunter. Play it on “Supernatural,” “The Outsiders,” and almost anything in the dark land that pay cable has become. It’s a manifesto, a Texas-proud song that makes me want to hear more, more, more.
BH: It has kind of a titillating sense of country-fried foreboding I associate with old-school Drive By Truckers, which should be taken as the highest compliment. That squeak evokes a rocking chair on a porch or a rusty gate swinging without ever mentioning those images lyrically, and I was already hooked by the heavy swelling chorus; add serious guitar work and talk of sinners in the land of oil fields, and I’ve got chills.
John Congleton and the Nighty Nite, “Until It Goes”
The noted Dallas producer’s new band recently released its debut album, Until the Horror Goes.
HH: More angst, but this time it’s through the freaky filter of Congleton, who can always be counted on to blend gory lyrical ideas with crisp, deliberate production. The beats, bass lines, ominous chords and creepy bells all left me wanting more. Time to dig into that album.
TR: I hear likenesses to so many different bands in a song that itself is kind of all over the place. A vocal inflection that reminds me of Arcade Fire, a cadence that conjures Tim DeLaugther, and even a little bit of Octopus Project flare. But I’m afraid all the parts don’t make a whole for me on this one; though I am curious to hear the rest of the album now.
DB: He drops a beat as if he thinks he’s Dr. Dre. But then, well, he’s not. There’s smoke here, though. Maybe next song.
BH: I’ve listened to this track a number of times, and I still can’t make up my mind, but my feelings, no matter how ambivalent, are strong. I like the melody and the cold electric sound, but something -- a mixture of the lyrics and the vocalization -- is just too close to melodrama. Either way, I’ll listen again, and seek out the rest of the album, which is a compliment in and of itself.