Around this time each year, the music business usually begins assessing the previous 12 months, wrapping up loose ends and preparing to hibernate for a few weeks.
Someone forgot to tell the prolific musicians in North Texas, however, as a handful of new albums and EPs are arriving here in the waning moments of 2012. Here's a look at four recent releases, running the gamut from goofy rap to dead-serious blues.
Peter Black, 'Heads Many Hands, Vol. 1'
The Orbans' Peter Black steps aside from the beloved Fort Worth band for a moment to digitally offer up the first installment of Heads Many Hands (the second volume, as well as a physical release of both volumes, is set for early next year). Black's knack for melody is on full display -- the gorgeous Soon builds beautifully upon its insistent, echo-laden guitar riff -- as is his deft hand with country-tinged rock ( 67 Mornings is a bleary-eyed stunner). Fans of the Orbans won't be too shocked by these six tracks, as Black doesn't wander far afield from the band's sonic influences, but the album just might intensify the hunger for the follow-up to When We Were Wild (which the band is currently working on). (peterblackmusic.com)
Analog Rebellion, 'Full Frontal'
Few sonic reinventions have been as dramatic or as fascinating as the one undertaken by Aledo's Daniel Hunter. Over the past five years, Hunter (who performs as Analog Rebellion) has moved from straight-edge electro-pop to ambitious, tough indie rock, eschewing a major-label record deal to make music on his own terms. Full Frontal, Hunter's third full-length effort and the first Analog Rebellion LP since 2010's Ancient Electrons, reels in listeners with the deceptively chipper Nothing Is Wrong, before delivering a series of intense, brooding and sharply rendered tracks, culminating in the striking instrumental Bumper Sticker Patriotism. It's a ferocious, dazzling piece of work from a restless, ever-eager talent. (analogrebellion.com)
Doug Funnie, 'Head in the Cloudz'
Opening an album with extensive sampling of NBC newsman Brian Williams guarantees you're in for something different. And, mostly, Bedford-based nerdcore rapper Doug Funnie keeps Head in the Cloudz interesting -- how amusing you find sexually explicit skits about cartoon characters and references to Randy "Macho Man" Savage depends upon your tolerance for sophomoric humor. Funnie occasionally spits a verse approaching the skill demonstrated by contemporaries like Dru B Shinin', A.Dd+'s Paris Pershun or the Mohicans' David Morgan, but jokes are more important than flow here. The beats are likewise afterthoughts, although a few bright spots ( The Kang, in particular) are there. (dougfunnie.bandcamp.com)
The Steve Hill Trio, 'Working Twice As Hard'
Although it's often unfairly overlooked, the blues is a key component of the Fort Worth sound. This six-song EP, from singer-songwriter/guitarist Steve Hill, is a welcome reminder of the genre's primacy, as well as its ability to make the familiar feel fresh. Following 2004's full-length (What Ever Happened to) Playing for the Love of Music!?, Hard is all original material, ranging from the harmonica-fueled shuffle of Somebody Please to the grinding come-on Half Honeybee, Half Snake. Working is a fine showcase for Hill's spry vocals and ease with greasy guitar licks, which are a fixture on area stages. (stevehilltrio.com)
Preston Jones is the Star-Telegram pop music critic, 817-390-7713