For its latest release (following 2008’s Next Sound and 2012’s Last of the Originals), Fort Worth rap trio Fort Nox reached out to some rising production stars to help them create seven tracks that feel fresh even as, sonically, they evoke the early ’90s boomlet of socially conscious hip-hop.
The EP, available on iTunes and other digital retailers, features contributions from producers Ernie G., Bash Copeland and Ben Garside, as well as vocalist Ariel Star (whose verse on Clashing impresses). In the youthful groundswell of North Texas hip-hop, Fort Nox often (unfairly) gets overlooked, but its songs stand tall alongside the best of what the area has to offer.
“The storm theme, which we used in some of the promo for the album, I believe is [about] surviving the storm of the music industry … and us as a group riding through the storm and doing what we feel creatively to contribute to art of hip-hop music,” says Fort Nox’s Cedric Ruffin. Fort Nox is working on its third full-length release for tentative release this summer.
Crushed Stars, ‘Farewell Young Lovers’
The music that Dallas-based singer-songwriter Todd Gautreau makes under the Crushed Stars name feels like a waking dream — gauzy guitars, hazy vocals and melodies that glow like moonlight. Farewell Young Lovers, the follow-up to 2012’s In the Bright Rain, was produced by Grammy winner (and former Dallasite) Stuart Sikes and features percussion from Jeff Ryan. Gautreau, who also runs the indie label Simulacra Records, makes it nearly impossible to single out a favorite track ( This Happens Every Time is what I keep returning to, followed close behind by the instrumental Poppies). This is a gorgeous piece of work, one you should turn up, lean back and get lost in.
Online: facebook .com/crushedstars
Quaker City Night Hawks, ‘Texas Heavy’
Work continues on the Fort Worth rockers’ third studio effort, but in the interim, the fellas in Quaker City Night Hawks have just released this digital single to iTunes, previously only available in physical form (how’s that for turning the modern music biz on its ear?), and released in conjunction with last year’s sophomore LP, Honcho. The two-track Texas Heavy single delivers exactly what such a title promises: gritty, soulful rock, rich with low end and attitude to burn. Tell It Like It Is and Prize to Find, a pair of songs cut during the Honcho sessions, are irresistible — the former boasts a killer David Matsler vocal and a nasty bass groove, courtesy of Patrick Adams, while the latter rocks to and fro like a tidal wave. QCNH plays Three Links in Deep Ellum on Feb. 7.
Online: thequakercity nighthawks.com