Thursday, October 31, 2013
Local ear candy: 5 songs from Bad Mountain, Fishboy and more
For your country-western, pop, hip-hop listening pleasure.
“Even on a Rainy Day,” Bad Mountain
Singer-songwriter Jesse Anderson honed his decidedly old-fashioned blend of country, ragtime and blues at several live acoustic shows. But when it was time to make a record under his chosen nom de plume, Bad Mountain, the expressive troubadour decided to recruit additional musicians to add sonic depth to his common-man compositions. He asked burgeoning local producer Beau Bedford (Larry g(ee), Kirby Brown) to help assemble some dudes at Dallas’ Modern Electric Sound Recorders, and the expanded Bad Mountain ended up making a five-song eponymous EP that could effectively score a western or a railroad saga. Not to imply that Anderson’s songs are tired in any way. He delivers the down-on-luck verses to EP opener “Even on a Rainy Day” with a shaky, half-intoxicated cry. It’s compelling stuff, and it should be interesting to see Anderson’s full band work it out live on November 6 at the Prophet Bar, 2548 Elm St., Dallas.
“Wreck of the Fallible,” The Fox and the Bird
The Dallas four-piece folk-pop band the Fox and the Bird was responsible for one of the many high points of last month’s Index Festival. Members Dan Bowman, Jacob Metcalf, Petra Kelly and Paul Grass are difficult not to admire when they bring their various strings, drums and layered harmonies to the people. Fortunately, they put as much thought and emotion into their recordings as they do their live sets. “Wreck of the Fallible” is a sad, fiddle-and-banjo-tinged ballad telling the story of unjustly forlorn castoffs. It gives us high hopes for the new album expected later this year.
“I Don’t Care,” Peter Black (iTunes)
“I Don’t Care” is one of several explosions of melody to be found on the Orbans lead singer’s solo collection Heads Many Hands Vol. 1 and 2, a record he’s released during his band’s break. Black’s cucumber-cool vocals grow larger and more colorful throughout the stomping, horn-embellished tune, and there’s also some tasty harmonica at play here and there.
“Babyfood Jar,” Fishboy
I’ve always been jealous of Eric Michener’s limitless imagination. The veteran Denton singer-songwriter (who performs as Fishboy) has put out catchy concept pop records incorporating both the ghost of Buddy Holly (Albatross) and the entertaining mythology of his musical hometown (Little D). And as weird as his subject matter can get, his tunes are always brimming with roll-off-the-tongue lyrics, tight arrangements and expert songcraft. He continues that trend on the latest EP, Imavolcano, about — yep — a guy who turns into an exploding lava-filled mountain. The origin of this unlikely transformation is explained in the supremely catchy track, “Babyfood Jar.” But go ahead and listen to the whole EP from start to finish. You need the boost.
“L’Chaim,” Lord Byron
Dallas hip-hop hasn’t historically been defined by deeply introspective lyricism. Although local exceptions have popped up in every era of the genre, there’s been more consistent emphasis on braggadocio, riches and revelry. And there’s nothing wrong with that. But the fact that thought-provoking lyricists are still in the minority in North Texas might help explain the recent local media frenzy over Lord Byron. He’s an enigmatic up-and-coming rapper whose recorded material sparkles with complex wit and self awareness (it’s no coincidence that the Dallas emcee assumed the name of a classical poet). And while most of the tracks on his latest mixtape, Dark Arts Vol. 2, are subtle enough to require that listeners lean in, the Brrd-produced “L’Chaim” bucks that trend by weaving defiant horn samples and a catchy chorus chant in with Byron’s reference-filled verses.
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.