Struggling to find the right local album as your soundtrack for summer?
You're in luck -- musicians rooted here (and with ties to here, even if they're now elsewhere) continue to crank out gotta-hear albums and EPs, full of tunes worth repeating throughout every gathering you'll have in the coming months. Here are five new efforts, from gauzy dream-pop to delightfully off-kilter folk, to keep you and your ears company as summer stretches on.
Fight Bite, self-titled
It comes as no surprise that Denton-formed Fight Bite's second, self-titled LP is draped in hazy atmospherics, as that's what made the pair's 2008 debut, Emerald Eyes, so memorable. Although Geoffrey Louis and Leanne Macomber have since scattered to Austin and Brooklyn, respectively (Macomber has joined with fellow Denton expat Alan Palomo's Neon Indian), this duo hasn't lost its ability to fashion intoxicating dream-pop in the gap between albums. Macomber's ghostly vocals, projected on songs such as Caitiline and Christiane X as if from the depths of a cavernous church, are swathed in fuzzy, glowing soundscapes conjured by Louis. This 10-track effort exerts a powerful pull and leaves a lasting mark.
We're a little over halfway through the year, and I've heard what I suspect will be my favorite local album of 2012. That it is this Fort Worth duo's first full-length effort is all the more impressive -- these are incredibly confident songs, rendered with sensitivity and skill. Texas Christian University grad Jeevan Antony and his brother Mathew mine their past with an eye toward creating some of the most lush, richly textured folk-pop I have heard in many months. Spread over 13 tracks, Things Can Change is made up of arresting songs -- the luminous Older, Tracing Paper and Never are exquisite -- and what amounts to interstitial clips of people talking, evoking home recordings of loved ones. It's a terrific accomplishment, and one begging to be heard over and over.
Early Morning Creatures, self-titled
Arlington quintet Early Morning Creatures (Michael Moran, Will Carmack, Louis Le Jeune, Todd Cotham and Daniel Deibert) can scarcely contain its exuberance within these six tracks. A terrific blast of folk-tinged rock, anchored by Moran's full-throated vocals and propelled by the band's musical chemistry, Early Morning Creatures manages to sound like Texas while also standing apart from it. (See: Shame on Me, a grinding tune that would set red-dirt country fans' heads bobbing but doesn't slip into predictable cliché.)
Cory Patrick Coleman, 'Bird Sounds'
On first listen, Denton singer-songwriter Cory Patrick Coleman can be a little jarring. After all, he's making music nominally categorizable as folk (complete with the genre's attendant violin, pedal steel and acoustic guitar accompaniment), but Coleman's arresting voice is a strangled falsetto, choked out and floating above the lovingly burnished sonics. Over the course of seven tracks, however, Coleman subverts expectations to pleasing effect: Porchlight is dappled with electronic effects, while You'll See fractures the notion of a traditional alt-country waltz. Succumb to its off-center charms, and Bird Sounds might just flutter away with your heart.
Spook Easy, 'Faux Show'
Dallas quartet Spook Easy drifts along on its debut full-length, doling out pleasant, if unremarkable surf-tinged rock. Then, about halfway through the album, the track Matchstick causes everything to snap into focus. Led by vocalist/keyboardist Stephanie Burns, Spook Easy, which also features guitarist/vocalist Logan Kelson, bassist Joe Tacke and drummer Adam Locklear, Matchstick weds vibrant vocals to an insistent melody, and indeed, the back half of Faux Show is far stronger than the front. Still, this Eric Harvey (Spoon)-produced LP, ideal for pool days or barbecues, also marks Spook Easy as a band worth keep tabs on.