By Jeremy Hallock
By James Khubiar
By Observer Staff
By Kelly Dearmore
By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
And so it is that we're done with 2010. Kind of a bittersweet adieu, too.
But, impressive and enjoyable as this past year may have been from a local music fan's standpoint, the early outlook on 2011 shows a year likely to rival even the last, which, it could be argued, was the best year in recent local music memory.
The immediate horizon is especially cluttered.
First, the Super Bowl comes to town bringing with it a whole slew of national acts to placate the masses. What's up, free Maroon 5 concert at Victory Plaza? How's it going, Kid Rock? Oh, hey, Black Eyed Peas...
Then in March comes Denton's four-day pre-South by Southwest bash. The 35 Conferette scored a major coup last week with the announcement that Big Boi, one half of Outkast and one of the more intriguing solo performers of 2010 thanks to his phenomenal Sir Lucious Left Foot: The Son of Chico Dusty release, would be joining the bill.
And right after that to-do comes another: the annual cluster eff that is SXSW, which actually has its benefits, considering all the spillover shows that North Texas annually receives around the time of that festival.
But what of the recorded output expected in 2011? Surely, it can't match the quality of music released in 2010, which saw regional powerhouses such as Erykah Badu, the Old 97's, Midlake and the freshly anointed Sarah Jaffe all put out stellar albums. Or can it?
Looks that way, believe it or not. Assuming all goes as planned, 2011 should see releases again from the 97's and Jaffe, plus albums from once-prominent talents Eisley and Fair to Midland, as well as follow-up albums from recent breakthrough acts Telegraph Canyon, True Widow, The O's and others.
And those are just the ones we know about. Powerhouses Badu, Midlake, St. Vincent, the Toadies, Tim DeLaughter and Neon Indian are all said to be working on new material as we speak. Meanwhile, we're also safely expecting debut releases from recent attention-grabbers such as punk-rock duo Leg Sweeper, hipster-hop purveyors Sore Losers and A.Dd+, and lo-fi retro-popper Sunnybrook.
With that, we present you with this courtesy list of the 11 album releases we most anticipate in the coming calendar year:
Album: This Is Where We Are
Release Date: January 25
Why We're Stoked: Feels like we've been waiting on this disc forever now, haven't we? Well, not really: The band first started earning attention just a little over a year ago, thanks to some choice opening performance slots before Telegraph Canyon, which was drawing pretty major crowds at the time. Still, the album's release has been delayed a few times—because, no doubt, this intricate, young, rousing folk collective is obsessing over every detail before releasing its debut.
Artist: The O's
Album: Between the Two
Release Date: February 11
Why We're Stoked: Expect the still-fresh bromance between Taylor Young and John Pedigo to continue impressing and endearing in a big way in 2011, as The O's follow up their debut release 2009 with a new effort that, if recent live shows are any indication, finds the country-folk twosome playing with a little more flair than showcased last time around.
Album: The Valley
Release Date: March 1
Why We're Stoked: There's a lot riding on this, the Tyler-based DuPree family band's third full-length release and first without major label backing. Fortunately, soaring pop songwriting has never been a problem for this collective, which once upon a time opened for the likes of Coldplay. Recent performances and early leaked tracks show that much hasn't changed.
Artist: True Widow
Album: As High As The Highest Heavens and From The Center to the Circumference of the Earth
Release Date: March
Why We're Stoked: In 2008, True Widow's self-titled debut came pretty much out of nowhere, striking a chord with area audiences thanks to its heavy, deliberately paced, and surprisingly beautiful, noise. This follow-up, the band's first for Kemado Records, which made stars out of Austin metal act The Sword, should only further the band's ascent.
Artist: Fair to Midland
Release Date: Spring 2011
Why We're Stoked: It's been four years since this Sulphur Springs-sprung progressive metal quintet released Fables from a Mayfly: What I Tell You Three Times Is True, a breakthrough release that saw lead single "Dance of the Manatee" reach as high as No. 19 on the Billboard Mainstream Rock Songs chart. Some three years in the making, this as-yet-untitled follow-up is likely to feature material as perplexing, challenging and rewarding as the band's earlier material.
Artist: Old 97's
Album: The Grand Theatre, Volume Two
Release Date: Spring 2011
Why We're Stoked: The follow-up to 2010's The Grand Theater, Volume One, this second installment in the series comes from the same pool of material that the band recorded last summer. And, given the incredibly positive reaction to that first batch, there's no reason to expect less of this crop—especially since, once upon a time, the seminal area alt-country band had hoped to release the two installments as a single double-album release. Frontman Rhett Miller has gone on record warning fans to expect a slower, less rousing affair this time around—if we're being honest, not the news we were hoping for—but, given the return-to-form on display in the first release, we're keeping our hopes up for this one, too.