In a matter of weeks, 2012 will draw to a close.
The last 11 months have been, by almost any estimation, extremely active for the local music scene. Apart from the full calendar of shows and album releases, there have been notable forays beyond the state's borders: Pinkish Black just inked a deal with the California and Germany-based Century Media Records (see story, page 24); the Quaker City Night Hawks have had several tunes appear on the popular TV series Sons of Anarchy and up-and-comers like Louie Evol have joined forces with Dallas-based Grammy winners Play-N-Skillz, laying groundwork for what could be an even more active 2013.
But before the year slips away altogether, here are six more new releases from all corners of North Texas well worth your attention. Hear a sample of each below.
We the Sea Lions, 'Consequence in Sequence'
Fort Worth quintet We the Sea Lions impresses mightily with its debut. Joshua Badillo, Brian McKittrick, Jonathan Badillo, Trevor Maher and Ben Rodriguez manage to mix crushing guitars, soaring vocals and a heavy rock sensibility with shoegaze atmospherics. Aided by Grammy-winning producer/engineer Stuart Sikes, We the Sea Lions -- self-described "indie do-it-yourselfers" -- and, by extension, Consequence in Sequence, toggle between toughness and tenderness. Tracks like Wasting Time feel epic and pummeling, while the shimmering Wild River could almost pass for a New Order outtake. A terrific record, and a band to keep close tabs on. They will perform at Whiskey Girl Saloon on Saturday. wethesealions.com
Blake Panter, '2x4'
Flower Mound's Blake Panter wrote all 11 tracks for his debut solo album, as well as playing every instrument, and his jittery, dry, meticulously sculpted style gives 2x4 a fascinating edge. Having moved far away from the gauzy electro of his previous band, Novaak, Panter is after something more urgent and harder -- the refrain "I think we'll talk about it" pulses like a nervy mantra beneath If I'd Ever -- although moments of sublime beauty (particularly Mound of Flowers) pierce the prevailing mood of anxiety. (blakepanter.com)
Like a fist snaking out of the darkness and connecting with your jaw, RTB2 strikes fast and hard, leaving you slightly, happily dazed. The Denton duo of Ryan Thomas Becker and Grady Don Sandlin remain one of the area's finest live acts, a furious blend of musical acumen and off-the-rails attitude. Their latest long-player (something of a misnomer, as 2 clocks in at 27 minutes) follows 2009's sophomore effort, In the Fleshed, and features the Austin-based Stuart Sikes behind the mixing board. From the insistent opener Wire to the Walls through to the surprisingly tender finale Sarahs in Cars, 2 delivers one of the year's most pleasing punches. (rtb2.bandcamp.com)
Derek Larson, 'Blood on Blood'
Derek Larson's voice is full of appealing creases and grit -- and he deftly blends country, rock, folk and blues into shadowy, sharply rendered songs on his sophomore album, Blood on Blood. Despite the Burleson singer-songwriter's weary sound and brooding material, Blood on Blood never collapses under the weight of its own despair ("Put the gun to my head, baby, and let loose," he moans during Doomtown), as Larson is backed by an ace foursome known as the Leavers: guitarist/vocalist Dusty Deaton, bassist Aaron Meador, percussionist Nick Diomedes and fiddler Brooke Wallace Deaton. Dreary and dazzling, this Blood leaves an indelible mark. (dereklarsonmusic.com)
Shiny Around the Edges, 'The Night Is a Disco'
More than once during this Denton trio's third full-length album, the listener feels as if minds have been cracked open and spilled onto the floor, leaving a jumble of thoughts, images and feelings to be sifted through. The avant-garde nature of The Night Is a Disco can make for challenging listening -- field recordings, bracing guitar lines, tender piano and fractured electronic textures reside in close proximity. But once you dial into what husband and wife Michael and Jennifer Seman and Michael Forbes are doing, Disco becomes a description-defying, wonderfully left-of-center ride. (shinyaroundtheedges.com)
Josh Weathers Band, 'Big Night in the City'
Live, Josh Weathers bubbles over, fairly exploding off the stage with the force of his songs and the incredible band behind him. So it's a little surprising his latest LP is more of a low, steady boil. But Weathers is compelling at any temperature, even if these nine tracks rarely rise to the levels of a Weathers concert. (Weathers says he may still record a live album at some point.) Apart from restraint, Big Night in the City also finds him pivoting in a new direction: Nashville. Country is more prevalent here than at any other point in Weathers' catalog, and the shift suits him well. For as polished and compelling as City is, it remains, as all other Weathers recordings, the appetizer to his searing live performances' sumptuous main course. (joshweathersband.com)