Zhora

Zhora EP

First single "The Hold" might suggest some early Madonna influence and provides a pop sound lacking in the current regional sound wave. The four-song EP flirts with a spacier, wilder aesthetic found in Zhora's live performance, which suggests their full-length will go bigger, more psychedelic, while still retaining elements of dance pop. At a recent performance, their cover of Corona's "Rhythm of the Night" had me itching for a version I could play in my car. DEB DOING DALLAS

Somebody's Darling

Jank City Shakedown

By embracing their country-rock roots, Somebody's Darling created a sophomore effort that should help break the band nationally. Jank City Shakedown is a loud and proud salute to blues and country that never wavers in intensity or hayseed credibility. Vocalist Amber Farris is the band's secret weapon and producer Stuart Sikes allows her plenty of room to show her stuff. DARRYL SMYERS

Grant Jones & the Pistol Grip Lassos

Saints, Sinners & Liars

Concept records in which the concept is relatively loose are tricky. Grant Jones made such unpredictable terrain impossibly easy to navigate. Saints, Sinners & Liars unflinchingly reveals the seedy underbelly of drug-addled relationships and small-town folks with little left to lose. A take on Pink Floyd's "Wish You Were Here" is as fitting here as a tortured love song to amphetamines. KELLY DEARMORE

Bad Design

Bad Design

This charming Denton four-piece would like to remind you about 1999. Not the Prince song or how many times platinum N*SYNC or Limp Bizkit went that year. Instead, a time when post-rock, jazz and math rock could hang with emo. The band recorded their debut live, and it's a spot-on recreation of their live show. And "The Whale" is one hell of a catchy song. ERIC GRUBBS

Ronnie Fauss

I'm the Man You Know I'm Not

Fauss' long-anticipated full-length debut not only lived up to expectations, but represents a full-circle effort in terms of including tunes from his back catalog of EPs. Taking his Normaltown Records deal for a proper test spin, he and label mate Lily Hiatt (John Hiatt's daughter) even provide a fresh take on the Gram Parsons classic "Sin City" and come out sounding like winners. KELLY DEARMORE

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