This time last year, we were already running out of superlatives to use for Leon Bridges and his overnight rise to stardom. Fortunately, there's been plenty more to get excited about in the first half of 2016, including a number of North Texas artists who seem poised to follow in Bridges' footsteps. But which songs have been the best so far this year? It's not too soon to stop and take stock.
10. "The Meek" by Gensu Dean Feat. Denmark Vessey
There is certainly something to be said for collaboration. “The Meek” is a track from Whole Food, an upcoming collaboration from Dallas producer Gensu Dean and Detroit hip-hop artist Denmark Vessey. Dean’s production is heavy on percussion with smacking beats and simple chords that are surprisingly lyrical. It’s a great track and Vessey tears it apart. Jeremy Hallock 9. "I'm With That" by the Outfit, TX In 2015, this trio released Down By the Trinity, a sharp, thought-provoking album rich with unique production. Its gothic brooding was also a departure from the Outfit's 2012 LP Starships and Rockets, which proved they could do the classic Houston-to-Dallas sound as well as anyone. In 2016, they’ve released a slew of tracks featuring the best of both worlds. “I’m With That” is a bass heavy anthem featuring Mel Hawkins and JayHawk Walker at the top of their game, refusing to mince words. They're not slowing down, either, with plans for the upcoming Green Lights: Everythang Goin’ EP. Mikel Galicia
8. "Cosmic Queen" by Pearl Earl
Last year, Pearl Earl dropped the Karaoke Superstar EP and staked claim to being one of the most entertaining live acts in North Texas. In May, the Denton quartet dropped "Cosmic Queen," a sonic, spacey exploration with the same excitable vocal delivery and faux-Japanese accent. Released just before an East Coast tour in May and June, the track winds a gnarly guitar riff around an infectious groove and killer party spirit. Like the EP that preceded it, "Cosmic Queen" is wild, good fun and perfect for a sing along. Evan Henry
7. "Country Girls in City Dresses" by Doug Burr
More than any other song Doug Burr has released in recent memory, the pastoral "Country Girls in City Dresses" would fit perfectly on Burr's immaculate 2007 record In the Garden. The raw acoustic strums and Burr's melodic whisper make for a combination that's flat-out gorgeous in its effortlessness. But then electric highlights step in and brighten the proceedings with just enough vibrance. The atmospheric ambience lends a softness without stalling the tune's sun-kissed Cali-style country-rock vibe. With longtime mates Glen Farris Squibb and Dave Sims on hand, Burr highlights the profound beauty of the sheerly simple. Kelly Dearmore
6. "Neon Lights" by Siamese Avant-glam band Siamese is yet to release an album, but as far as statements of intent go they couldn't have put things more succinctly than they do on "Neon Lights." The four-piece wraps its shoegaze in a curtain of ever-changing theatricality, and the song follows in kind: It starts off fast, but singer Teddy Waggy drags on the title words with a sunshine-drenched melancholy, keeping with the varying mood. Happy chords are intermittently derailed onto a forlorn note and "Neon Lights" results in a simple but memorable melody, marked by Waggy's downright dreamy pop vocals. Eva Raggio
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