“This is gonna be one for your speakers,” intones Porsche Smith at the beginning of Jonah, one of several stand-out tracks on her new (and aptly titled) record, Superhuman. (Although it was originally released in 2013, Tate Music Group re-released the project on iTunes last month.)
That warning could apply to any of the 15 tracks found here. The onetime Arlington resident, who hails from California and is now based in Dallas, tackles it all with aplomb: singing, songwriting and production. She blends analog skills with a distinctly 21st-century attitude — Superhuman, the follow-up to her 2007 debut, About Life, is arresting from the opening moments of lead-off track The Science and retains its allure throughout, marking Smith as a fearsome talent (think Erykah Badu fused with Janelle Monae and a dash of Pharrell) who has been more or less hiding in plain sight. (In addition to creating several releases prior to Superhuman, Smith also logs time in the all-female band Beauty and the Beats.) Keep a close eye on this phenomenal talent.
You’d be forgiven for thinking the Fibs — vocalist/guitarist Preston Newberry, bassist Westley Harwart and drummer Dylan Parks — recorded their debut, six-track album, Hex Hex Hex, at the bottom of a very deep well. (Parks and Harwart have since split; Robby and Jennifer Rux joined in their stead.) Layers of echo and distortion, and a somewhat telescoped soundstage, make it seem as though these songs are emanating from somewhere far below ground, which has the hypnotic — and unexpected — effect of pulling listeners closer. It’s a risky gambit, but one that Newberry and Parks pull off, although in concert, such a tactic could quickly grow tiresome. The Fort Worth band, which is signed to the Ruxes’ hip, near-south-side indie label Dreamy Soundz, has gotten our attention with Hex — now it needs to hold it with whatever comes next. The Fibs celebrate the cassette release of Hex Hex Hex on Saturday at the Where House, with support from Nathan Brown, the Silver Saint and Mercury Rocket.
TCU alum and Omaha, Neb., native Tim Halperin continues to sharpen his sonic sensibilities on Heart Tells Your Head, the follow-up to his 2011 full-length debut, Rise & Fall. “I’m really excited about this album and the step forward musically,” Halperin says via email. Indeed, again teamed with producer Jordan Critz, Halperin demonstrates a facility with melody and meaningful lyrics that’s tougher to do well than it might seem. Whether equating love with theft on The Criminal or speaking earnestly about searching for something more on lead single Truth, Halperin walks a line between accessible pop-rock and music with a message. That tension propels the listener forward — Halperin is an artist whose evolution will be a joy to witness. A protege of the late Kidd Kraddick, Halperin will donate 15 percent of the album’s sales, available Tuesday on iTunes, to the Kidd’s Kids charitable foundation.