Once a month, we like to take a moment and highlight three songs from local bands that have ear wormed their way into our brains. While we normally try to highlight some lesser known Denton bands, August has been a big month for music releases. Below, we take a listen to the likes of Midlake, Bad Sports and Botany. Read on for weekend tunes!
Which long standing Denton band is regarded as the most revered? Has any sort of committee decided this yet? We’re not sure if it’s supposed to be Midlake, Brave Combo or The Baptist Generals. Either way, “Antiphon” is Midlake's first foray back without longtime vocalist Tim Smith.
We remember once hearing Denton elder statesman Dave Sims discuss the state of Denton music in 2010, explaining that post Denton’s folk-explosion, the current trend was to find a a sound of a certain era and to finetune said sound to the point of perfection. Midlake has a history of doing just that. Sometimes it works in their favor. Other times, it doesn’t. Their last album divided many American critics right down the middle (those unshaved Europeans seem to think the ‘Lake can do no wrong). That said, Midlake has long been drastically changing their sound in between albums. The Trials of Van Occupanther was mutually agreed upon to be the best Fleetwood Mac album since Tusk. The Courage of Others from 2010, had Midlake evoking a different 70's sound with shades of Neil Young shining through.The album release dates above show just how meticulous Midlake can be. They take their darn sweet time in between albums, fine tuning everything and hanging out in their studio. It pays off with “Antiphon.” With the departure of Tim Smith, Eric Pulido has taken on vocal duties. The change might not be noticeable to many listeners. The vocal harmonies carry the song throughout, but they eventually get the spotlight stolen by drummer McKenzie Smith’s ramshackle swing throughout the tune. While psychedelia is yet another new guise for Midlake to squeeze themselves into, we find it to suit them well.
Speaking of finding a dormant sound and reviving it well, local ne'er-do-wells, Bad Sports, seem to be doing pretty well in the national music scene lately. Spin is currently streaming their new album in it’s entirety and they’ve had tracks highlighted on both Pitchfork and MTV.com.
The trio has infiltrated the punk scene of DFW and pretty much dominated it for about half a decade now. We remember watching them tear apart a couch at some Dallas Observer show at least four years ago. Since then, they’ve gone on to join the likes of Marked Men, Mind Spiders and other North Texas punk royalty on the excellent Dirtnap Records out of the Pacific Northwest. This might be their crowning year, with their forthcoming album, Bras, looming on the masses.
Most of Bras finds Bad Sports sporting their garage rock moniker well, but this album shows quite a bit of growth. Some songs show hints of the Stones while some even remind us of AC/DC. As with Midlake above, we're once more finding an older sound and aping it to the point of perfection.
Above you’ll find “Get You,” the first track off of their upcoming album and a song which MTV calls this summer’s punk rock answer to Robin Thicke’s "Blurred Lines." We’d be hard-pressed to disagree. This tune is tight and focused, with guitar licks and hooks aplenty. Both tunes sound vaguely threatening to women, too. How did that become this summer's theme?
While we still bemoan the quiet fading away of Denton band, Sleep Whale, we’re happy to see that they acted as somewhat of a launch pad (maybe raised bed garden?) for several other entities that are still creating great tunes in the same vein. In June, we applauded the recent work of Paul North who was a part of that clan. This month, we’re highlighting a song from Botany, the brain child of vicarious Dentonite, Spencer Stephenson. After Sleep Whale, Stephenson gained some good cred through his work under the Abacus moniker. We’re not sure exactly what precipitated the name change - Botany’s sound isn’t far from what we heard with Abacus, but we’ll take these tunes however we can get them.
Anchor starts out sounding a little like a Tycho song, however, once the song finds it’s foothold (which happens about :45 into it), it becomes a beast of a different nature. The song certainly leaves you wanting to listen to the rest of the album.