Wednesday, October 9, 2013
Local ear candy: 5 new songs from Black Milk, Calhoun and more
For your hip-hop, dance-pop listening pleasure.
“Dismal,” Black Milk
Dallas’ music scene welcomed an exciting creative force into its fold when Curtis Cross — a.k.a. Black Milk — moved here from Detroit in 2012. Already respected worldwide for his left-of-center contributions to underground hip-hop, Cross hasn’t slowed down since his relocation. He won raves for his recent Red Bull Sound Select show at Club Dada, and his latest album, No Poison No Paradise, hits stores next week. Lead single “Dismal” finds Black Milk alternately knocking and praising the proverbial hustle of the rap game, and the only thing more sinister than his delivery are the syrupy beat and ominous tones behind it.
[UPDATE: Black Milk also released a new music video, for “Sunday’s Best/Monday’s Worst,” via Complex Monday.]
Past recordings by the Fort Worth band Calhoun have earned acclaim for their polished production, heady melodies and highly accessible vocals by lead singer Tim Locke. Consistency was never a problem for Locke and company, who’ve always flirted with twang but never quite sounded country. Yet one would expect any sonic experimentation by Calhoun to go that way, certainly not in an ’80s-inspired dance-pop direction. That’s why the new single “Reap/Sow” – from the forthcoming EP Paperweights – is such a nice surprise. It keeps the warmth of Locke’s voice intact, but pairs it with infectious beats, handclaps and staccato guitar notes. See Calhoun live at Index Festival in Deep Ellum on October 19.
“Bodies/Hours,” Brave Young Lion
The four 20-something members of Brave Young Lion document the travails of college life in their new EP Same Old Game, recorded at Midlake’s Redwood Studios. While there’s no question about these guys’ musical fealties — they take huge sonic cues from both Vampire Weekend and the Strokes — the way their EP unfolds is, at least, intriguing. These guys don’t entirely jell as players until midway through the third track, “Bodies/Hours,” when flatly delivered verses give way to a strange spoken chant followed by a sudden (and welcome) change in tempo. I might have to investigate further when they play Denton’s Oaktopia Fest on November 16.
“Afraid of the Dark,” Ejecta
One of the most chillingly beautiful sounds to come out of North Texas in the last few years is the high, earthy voice of Leanne Macomber. Before joining Alan Palomo’s Neon Indian project and moving to New York, she made waves locally with her bedroom synth-‘n’-singing act Fight Bite. I adored those Fight Bite tunes — particularly “Swissex Lover” — but the pop fiend in me always wanted to hear Macomber sing over more substantial beats. Hers is a voice that needs to wash over a dance floor, cleansing the palates of all who listen. Macomber’s new project Ejecta gets her one step closer to that fate in the track “Afraid of the Dark,” thanks to expert production from Tigercity’s Joel Ford. The full-length album Dominae will be released in November.
“Nights Away,” Killtron
This isn’t a single song; it’s a 76-minute DJ mix just released by one of Dallas’ most talented musical curators. Joel Trujillo, who spins at weekly and one-off events under the name Killtron, has quite the knack for creating sustained moods with his sets, and he often incorporates well-established bits of music in the most unexpected of ways. “Nights Away” finds Killtron on the introspective, quiet-storm tip, moving from sex-obsessed bass tracks to melancholy cinematic score selections to cleverly placed samples of Timberlake and Shai. Seamless transitions all around. Listen to this and then dig further into his Soundcloud account. You’ll thank me later. Killtron spins at Tate’s on Saturday nights.
I’ll be offering my impressions of five new local tracks every week in this space. If you know of a song you think I should include, hit me up.