Year of the Bear moves with unshakable confidence through its debut LP, Gold Rushin’.
Much of the album, recorded in Fort Worth by the fiercely talented trio of Josh Browning and Jennifer and Robby Rux, swims around in a silo of psychedelic haze, soaked in reverb and melody. There’s more than a little Joy Division floating around in these eight songs, but more as a stylistic influence than as slavish re-creation.
Rushin’ seizes your attention from its opening moments, with the terrific one-two punch of Shake the Tambourine (Austin Kroll does the shaking, one of several judiciously used guests) and Old Gold Flame. Individually passionate supporters of the local music scene, Year of the Bear collectively now stands slightly apart from its creative contemporaries, delivering one of the finest debuts North Texas has seen thus far in 2015.
Year of the Bear celebrates the arrival of Rushin’ on Saturday at the Boiled Owl Tavern, with support from Bummer Vacation and Blank-Men.
Rhett Miller, ‘The Traveler’
On The Traveler, Rhett Miller keeps on rolling after last year’s ragged masterwork with the Old 97’s, Most Messed Up. The Dallas-raised troubadour’s sixth solo effort — the follow-up to 2012’s The Dreamer — finds him teamed up with R.E.M.’s Peter Buck and Black Prairie, which is made up mainly of Decemberists (Chris Funk, Nate Query, Jenny Conlee and John Moen) as well as Annalisa Tornfelt and Jon Neufeld.
The prevailing sensibility is decidedly more rustic than found on the punky Up, but as always, Miller’s singular songs captivate from beginning to end. Miller plays Fort Worth’s Shipping & Receiving on June 11.
Bad Blonde, ‘Caffeine Daze’
Fort Worth trio Bad Blonde — vocalist/guitarist Dylan Owens, bassist Derek Harper and drummer Mike Surdel — doesn’t screw around on its aptly titled debut EP, Caffeine Daze. The go-for-broke opener, Begging for Disease, fits neatly with the band’s self-described Nirvana-meets-Motorhead aesthetic, and the intensity only ratchets up from there.
Produced by Grammy-nominated Chris “Frenchie” Smith at Austin’s The Bubble Recording Studio, Daze whips by in less than 20 minutes, at which point, if you’re like me, you’ll be totally giddy, pressing play again and counting Bad Blonde as one of your favorite new bands in North Texas. To mark Daze’s release, Bad Blonde will play Lola’s Saloon on Saturday, with support from Leroy the Prophet, Loaded Moses, Dagger Club and Huffer.
Preston Jones, 817-390-7713