Eagerly anticipated or slipping under the radar, local music releases of all stripes continue to flood independent record stores and iTunes.
It's nearly to the point where, if one was so inclined, almost all of the music heard in a given day or week could be wholly local in nature. It's as impressive a thought as it is daunting -- where to begin with so much interesting material around? Here are four new albums -- from widescreen pop to introspective singer-songwriter fare -- to feed your ears.
Pinkish Black, self-titled
Emanating from the speakers like some kind of waking nightmare, the mesmerizing debut from this Fort Worth duo -- Daron Beck and Jon Teague -- weaves together drums,
guitars, synths and otherworldly vocals to create a vivid, unsettling tapestry across just seven tracks. Engineered by Matt Barnhart at Denton's Echo Lab, Pinkish Black grabs hold from the ominous opening notes of Bodies in Tow and pulls the listener further into its carefully designed maelstrom (midpoint highlight Fall Down feels like Joy Division holding on for dear life in the midst of a hurricane). The fury and the skill fueling Pinkish Black is scarcely contained by these songs -- in concert, all this musical energy must detonate like an atomic bomb.
Preteen Zenith, 'Rubble Guts and BB Eye'
The tireless Tim DeLaughter works best in short bursts -- he's a master of stuffing three-minute pop songs full of hooks, feeling and grandeur. First unveiled last summer, his latest side project, Preteen Zenith, makes its recorded debut on the terrific, riotous Rubble Guts and BB Eye. (The album will be available to the public via the usual channels Tuesday; DeLaughter released a limited edition vinyl version of the record last month on Record Store Day.) Working with fellow ex-Tripping Daisy bandmate Phil Karnats, DeLaughter occasionally evokes the Polyphonic Spree throughout these nine tracks -- the project began life three years ago as possible demos for a new Spree LP -- but pushes his idiosyncratic style in some fascinating directions.
Darrin Kobetich, 'The Longest Winter'
In the liner notes for his absorbing new album, guitarist Darrin Kobetich describes the last two years of his life as "a time for reinvention," a period during which he poured himself into the 27 tracks comprising The Longest Winter. He wrote and performed every part himself at his Fort Worth home, often taking advantage of foul winter weather to refine his art. Far from a desolate, forlorn collection conceived in a snowdrift, Winter is, instead, a sparkling showcase for Kobetich's prowess on six strings -- early standout Stuck in Standby flutters and floats on finger-picked fretwork -- and reminds listeners that, sometimes, music without lyrics can speak volumes about a person.
John Singer Sergeant, self-titled
First things first -- there is no John Singer Sergeant. In reality, it's a nom de rock assumed by local musician/producer John Dufilho. This collection pushes the prolific, Dallas-based Dufilho even further into the background, as the 14 songs found here feature a glittering guest list of Dufilho's pals: Will Johnson, Ben Kweller, Rhett Miller, Sarah Jaffe and Chris Walla, among others. Although he wrote and produced the songs, he let his friends take charge of the vocals. Nearly every cut here is a smart pop gem -- Bob Schneider channels '80s pop on Jinxed; Rhett Miller gets amusingly baroque on My Own Worst Critic -- and gives John Singer Sergeant the feel of a well-curated mixtape, perhaps with the working title A Little Help From My Friends.