Even for a city with such a diverse music scene, JJ & the Rogues stands out.
The Fort Worth quartet ( Chris Carfa, Jameson Cockerell, Nolan Robertson and Joshua Townley) has, from its earliest recordings, refined its sophisticated approach to pop — an affinity for late-’60s psychedelia by way of early Pink Floyd fused with the pastoral erudition of the Kinks — and steadily separated itself from the pack.
As the band marks a decade of existence, that dedication pays off in the form of Sweet Talker, JJ & the Rogues’ debut full-length. Beauty abounds throughout the dozen tracks here, all produced by the band, with an assist from Kelly Hill. A gorgeous guitar figure blossoms like a flower about two minutes into So Fast, So Long. Mrs. Lyndonne is the best ditty Ray Davies never wrote, while the epic Christina takes the idea of a love song and launches it into the stratosphere. In making the familiar feel fresh and completely their own, JJ & the Rogues have fashioned one of the year’s most confident gems.
Things of Earth, ‘Dangers’
Dallas instrumental rock foursome Things of Earth — guitarists Benjamin Smith and Samuel Lomax, bassist Matthew Gillispie, and drummer Brandon Butters — makes music that feels as elemental as its name. Dangers, the group’s sophomore EP (following 2012’s Old Millennium Pictures), captivates from the opening moments of the ominous Shadows of Furniture and Ghosts, before spilling into the percussive Separate Digits. Working again with producer Alex Gerst, Things of Earth makes a mighty impression in just 29 minutes, leaving a mark without saying a word. Things of Earth celebrates the release of Dangers with a free show Friday at the Foundry.
Andrew Tinker, ‘Upon the Ecliptic’
Singer-songwriter Andrew Tinker is an anomaly, given that he hails from the traditionally boundary-pushing city of Denton (and stakes a claim as a founding member of the Polyphonic Spree): He makes straightforward, piano-driven pop-rock. Done well, it can be thoroughly engaging, which is a fitting descriptor for Tinker’s refreshing sophomore LP, Upon the Ecliptic. “I want to find a deep connection on a crowded street,” croons Tinker on I Can’t Do It Alone, one of the 11 achingly romantic tunes that grow sweeter with each spin.