We're halfway through 2017, which means it's time to assess all the local releases so far and rank our favorites. It’s never easy to reduce a region as large and rich in music as North Texas to a top 10 list, but in the first six months of this year, we’ve seen phenomenal releases from some new faces and local favorites representing all genres, from metal to punk to country to hip-hop.
10. Jesus Chris + The Beetles — Trickle Down
Never short on confidence, the self-proclaimed “best goddamn rock ’n’ roll band in the world,” Jesus Chris + The Beetles, released one of the best albums of the year — so far — to back up its claim. On Trickle Down, it works through its brand of glam punk with an erratically, creating a completely different soundscape for each track on the album while managing to be oddly cohesive.
9. Loafers — Bobby
Garage rock group Loafers has cemented its place in Dallas’ punk scene with Bobby and its split with Teenage Sexx last year. Originally hailing from Waco, the four-piece wasted little time introducing itself, and the same is true on this four-song EP. Loafers get to the point in just nine minutes.
8. FXXXXY — Flawed Up Shawty
Fxxxxy’s style of music is an amalgamation of everything in vogue right now: downtempo R&B and hip-hop blended with barely-there rap whispers. But the local does an extraordinary job of incorporating Southern hip-hop soundscapes into his brand of music. This is best heard on “Lip Service 6,” one of Fxxxxy’s biggest songs, which has become a favorite of the Complex music blog Pigeons and Planes.
7. Tyrannosorceress — Shattering Light’s Creation
Funny name, serious band. This local five-piece’s black metal debut is a sharp, progressive 45-minute tour of the depths of hell. “In The Light of the Sabbat Moon” is a 10-minute journey that leads with wandering, melodic guitars that are met with heavy, sludging riffs before progressing to fast-tempo, double-bass peddling. The sound is brooding, aggressive and worth a listen.
6. Power Trip — Nightmare Logic
Everything you loved about Power Trip’s debut remains on Nightmare Logic. It’s still soaked in the heavy riffs, guttural screams and breakneck-speed drums that made the Dallas five-piece the leader of thrash. More so than last time, Giley and company address politics and corruption on tracks like “Firing Squad” and “If Not Us Then Who.”
5. Lord Byron — We Kill Cowboys, So Death Rides A Horse
We Kill Cowboys, So Death Rides A Horse is as avant-garde and layered as its title suggests, but it's also the most approachable music we’ve heard from Lord Byron since he debuted on the local scene almost four years ago with Dark Arts. Vol. 2. On his previous releases, including 2015’s Digital Crucifixion, Byron's flows were dense and complicated. On We Kill Cowboys, his flow is more easygoing. His style on this album is an homage to Texas rap. Listen to “Post To Be” and “6leu DaVinci," and you'll see what we mean.
4. Siamese — The Mesmerist
This sultry piece of dream pop is a solid debut from Siamese, which is quickly becoming Dallas’ best new band. The six tracks are haunting, dark and sleek. The instrumentation is sharp enough to keep you captivated, but the lush vocals are just as likely to inspire daydreaming. The only drawback is that The Mesmerist doesn't completely capture the band's aura, which it has meticulously crafted. During lives shows, the band is costumed, with matching stage design and choreography. In other words, make sure you catch the next one.
3. Bobby Sessions — Grateful
Bobby Sessions is one of the most thoughtful and deliberate lyricists in the city. Following his critically acclaimed debut album, L.O.A. (Law of Attraction), Sessions’ 10-track sophomore album, Grateful, continues to lift up his listeners. Encouraging words of wisdom are heard on many tracks, including the lead single, “First World Problems,” which features another favorite local rapper, Sam Lao. The tone of the album is wonderfully soulful thanks to production from Picnictyme, Sikwitit, Jah Born and RC Williams.
2. Vandoliers — The Native
Vandoliers are the modern face of cowpunk. For their latest album, The Native, they took everything fans loved about their debut, Ameri-Kinda, and turned it up a notch. All 10 tracks hit harder, keep the twang at a maximum and are just plain fun to listen to. The album keeps the listener around as it works through a wide variety of sounds that its hybrid genre affords, such as classic Tejano, western, rockabilly and punk. The storytelling is sharp and the album makes an ideal soundtrack to a round of drinks.
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1. T.Y.E. — 32
T.Y.E.’s 32 is a remarkable debut and not just by local standards. It is theatrical, operatic and even epic at times. T.Y.E.’s style is unique and ranges from belting in a baritone register to delivering aggressive, growling raps. Tracks like “Universe” and his breakthrough “La La Land” capture the full range of T.Y.E.’s talent.
Once you’ve absorbed the sonics of the album, T.Y.E’s transparent, piercing lyrics hammer home how exceptional this release is. The Oak Cliff native draws from his experiences of growing up in one of the roughest ZIP codes in Dallas and battling bipolar disorder. Leading up to the release of the album, T.Y.E. drew attention from major publications such as Pigeons and Planes, The Fader and SPIN. He's quickly becoming the face of Dallas’ rap scene.