I’m fortunate to be able to explore and enjoy the music scenes of two cities – Boston and Dallas. Artists from both metropolitan areas have released some exceptional music this year. Here are a few favorites. Love it local.
DEEP IN THE HEART OF TEXAS
Gorgeous and entrancing are the two words that jump to mind when listening to Garrett Owen’s Quiet Lives. There’s a gentle beauty to Owen’s voice and acoustic guitar, even as he mines the depths of heartbreak, loss, and despair. And “Hour in the Forest” is downright epic.
Key Tracks: All of ’em!
Featured Twangville coverage of Garrett Owen: Garrett Owen – Quiet Lives, Readers’ Pick: Garrett Owen – Quiet Lives, Garrett Owen – Garrett Owen, Monday Morning Video – Garrett Owen, and Garrett Owen on Homemade Jerky, Merch Sales, and Stairwell Rehearsals
Isaac Hoskins may not release a lot of music (hint, hint, Isaac) but it’s something to be savored when he does. The Denton singer-songwriter is a consummate storyteller, mixing some boisterous honky-tonk drinkin’ songs in with some jaw-dropping acoustic folk ballads.
Key Tracks: One More Drink, Loving You Is Going to Be the Death of Me, Man on a Train, It’s Arlight Just To Be, Pickin’ ‘Em Up to & Puttin’ ‘Em Down, 1942, Throwin’ Rocks at the Moon
Featured Twangville coverage of Isaac Hoskins: It’s Alright Just to Be – a Premiere from Isaac Hoskins, Monday Morning Video – Isaac Hoskins, and Isaac Hoskins on Channeling Steve Earle and Finding Freedom from Doubt
Walker is a tremendous talent on the rise. His sophomore solo release leans into his Texas country heritage (save the fiery rock “D.B. Cooper”) with songs that are filled with characters as colorful as their stories, all shaped by Walker’s insightful perspective.
Key Tracks: Voices, True Love, Cupboard, Play You a Song, User, One Trick Pony, Loving County, D.B. Cooper
Featured Twangville coverage of Joshua Ray Walker: Broke Down South of Dallas – A Special Playlist, Dallas Days and Fort Worth Nights – A Special Dallas Playlist, and Monday Morning Video – An Introduction to Joshua Ray Walker
Talk about making an introduction! Texicana announce themselves with a potent debut EP that is 1/3 power pop, 1/3 rock, and 1/3 Memphis soul.
Key Tracks: All of ’em!
Featured Twangville coverage of Texicana: Broke Down South of Dallas – A Special Playlist, Texicana Share a “Little Bit of Love” – A Twangville Premiere, and Dallas After Midnight – A Special Twangville Playlist
Praise proves that Frenchie’s Blues Destroyers are more than a blues band. Sure, there’s some great electric blues, but the duo also mix in some soulful R&B and some Beatles-esque pop. All of it is engaging and ripe to fill up dance floors from Louisiana juke joints to Texas honky-tonks.
Key Tracks: Beautiful Mess, I Long to Come Home, Miss Me, Never Meant, Praise, Take a Stand
Featured Twangville coverage of Frenchie’s Blues Destroyers: Frenchie’s Blues Destroyers – a Twangville Premiere, Broke Down South of Dallas – A Special Playlist, Frenchie’s Blues Destroyers – Love Is Blood, and “Frenchie” Sciou on Billy Gibbon’s Guitar and Becoming a US Citizen
Taylor Young sure knows how to have a good time. Mercury Transit is all about the hooks, 1990’s power pop that is retro without sounding dated. It’s a fun listen, pure and simple – something we especially need in this shit-show of a year.
Key Tracks: Get Around, Rattled, Daze of the Week, Five Cents, Drinkin’
Featured Twangville coverage of Taylor Young Band: Broke Down South of Dallas – A Special Playlist
LOVE THAT DIRTY WATER (BOSTON YOU’RE MY HOME)
Back when touring was a thing, Mark Erelli spent his time with the likes of Marc Cohn, Josh Ritter, and Lori McKenna. One has got to have some chops to run with that crowd, right? Sure enough, Blindsided is an album that those artists, not to mention the rest of us, can celebrate. Erelli stretches from glorious, and often regal, pop to raw and emotional ballads, all infused with a captivating charm.
Key Tracks: Blindsided, Can’t Stand Myself, A Little Kindness, Her Town Now, Stranger’s Eyes, Lost in Translation, The River Always Wins, Rose-Colored Rearview, Careless
Featured Twangville coverage of Mark Erelli: The Dunes of the Cape – A Special Boston Playlist, Sweet Caroline – A Special Boston Playlist, The Berkshires Seemed Dreamlike – A Special Boston Playlist (Part 1), and Mark Erelli on a Big Annual Expense and Why He Missed His First Gig
Lucky Ones gives Dinty Child a chance to showcase the talents that make him the go-to songwriting and live performance collaborator for countless New England musicians. The 11 tracks cover a lot of musical ground – from the rootsy pop of “The Fall of the Summer of Love” to the symphonic balladry of “I Made a Mistake” to the cajun foot-stomp of “Hell No”, all anchored by Child’s spirited personality.
Key Tracks: The Morning, I Made a Mistake, Down to You, The Fall of the Summer of Love, Hell No, Lucky Ones
About the author: Mild-mannered corporate executive by day, excitable Twangville denizen by night.