While for some, the summer months can mean vacations and time spent unwinding, North Texas musicians have remained hard at work.
The fruits of those labors continue to materialize, as the flood of new albums from local artists continues unabated. Here are three recent releases worth a spin — whether you’re road-tripping it or heading into the office.
Rania Khoury, ‘Stone Wolf’
For 18 months, Dallas-based songstress Rania Khoury labored over her 10-track debut, Stone Wolf, with producer Lindsay Graham at his Junius Recording Company. Given its lengthy gestation, it would be understandable if the record bore traces of the difficult birth, but Stone Wolf exudes a brash confidence from first note to last. With style to burn, Arlington native Khoury, whose Regina Spektor-ish voice is endlessly elastic and prone to glottal gymnastics unlike much else in the local scene, handles high drama and smoldering romance with equal aplomb. But the record’s sharpest tune, by a good margin, is the spectacular Sweet Apple Pies, an effervescent, acid-tinged kiss-off that would, in a just world, be in heavy rotation (psst, KXT?). Khoury’s Stone Wolf packs a serious bite.
Online: facebook.com/rania khourymusic
It’s hard to believe singer-songwriter Eric Michener has been making music for more than a decade, given that every Fishboy release evokes an artist turned loose inside a studio to create genuine sonic mayhem (in a good way). Imavolcano, a new EP that’s woefully short (scarcely 10 minutes), is nevertheless an infectious follow-up to 2011’s full-length Classic Creeps. Michener, unafraid of bold pop strokes (dig the rhythmic barking dog sample at the end of I Am Still a Volcano), also demonstrates a flair for off-center wordplay — Babyfood Jar being a prime example — that sets him apart from his North Texas contemporaries. Fishboy will perform Wednesday at J&J’s Pizza in Denton.
Peter Black, ‘Heads Many Hands, Vol. 2’
As can happen with multitasking musicians, the follow-up to troubadour Peter Black’s stunning first installment of his debut solo project, Heads Many Hands, was derailed by work on the Orbans’ hotly anticipated sophomore album (tentatively titled Vedere, the new LP may be out within the next month). Having wrapped up Orbans duties, Black has unveiled the second half of Heads, which is available on iTunes individually or with the first volume. The wait was more than worth it: These five songs, laced with gorgeous pedal steel, layers of reverb and Black’s bourbon-smooth voice, are often full of longing or, as is the case on the EP-opening Monsters, self-loathing. Taken together, Heads Many Hands is a striking piece of work, and a fine showcase for one of the area’s biggest musical talents.