The Best North Texas Albums of 2014, So Far

Categories: Best Of

Eric Ryan Anderson
Rhett Miller and the Old 97's released a classic record this spring. Was it the best in North Texas?
We've spent the past week looking back at all our favorite parts of Dallas (and greater North Texas) music from the first half of 2014 -- our favorite concerts, videos, rap albums and country albums. Now, on the eve of America's birthday, we're capping it all off with what we'd like to think of as the crown jewel of these lists: the best local albums of the year to date.

There have been plenty of exciting records dropped already this year and they've been all across the map stylistically. Hip hop, folk, country, electronic and scuzzy garage rock all made their way into our hearts and onto this list. So without further ado, here are our picks.

See also:
The Best North Texas Concerts of 2014, So Far
The Best North Texas Rap Albums of 2014, So Far
The Top Five North Texas Country Albums of 2014, So Far
The Best North Texas Music Videos of 2014, So Far

15. Be Good & Do Well by -topic
On arguably the album's best song, "*The Loud," -topic sums up his best record to date, Be Good & Do Well: "Feel like I'm living two lives," he laments. "Half of me is carefree, the other half is too wise." Over his self-produced and often adventurous beats, the young MC bounces back and forth between meaningful messages and clever wordplay - often in combination. Along the way, "God in the City" reflects on his difficult childhood, while "Rainy Day in Dallas" is an honest-to-goodness banger, complete with a guest spot from A.Dd+'s Paris Pershun. At only 25, Be Good suggests -topic is only poised to get better. --Mac McCann

14. Gavin Guthrie Aka TX Connect by Gavin Guthrie
Under the alias TX Connect, Dallas-based DJ Gavin Guthrie has made a lot of waves in the international underground dance world in an amazingly short amount of time. His debut 12 inch single dropped on buzzworthy New York label Long Island Electrical System early in 2013 and just last month came his first long-player on the infamous Dutch label Creme Organization. Real TX Jaxx dives head first into a very classic 707 drum machine house sound with more than a little chicago inspired acid on the side. But more importantly it's an eclectic, stylized mix, especially when Guthrie explores a slow tempo grind that's more 70's German synth exploration than Chicago warehouse. --Wanz Dover

13. Onward and Upward by Madison King
The title of Madison King's latest album, Onward and Upward, could only be more appropriate if it were named This is An Incredible Record. With a refined sound that doesn't betray her bad-ass writing, this record is personal to her but remains accessible and engages anyone who stays mad after a break-up and isn't in a hurry to make people think they're doing just fine after someone screwed them over. It's a rock album built on the open-hearted stories of the country tradition, and it's every bit as catchy as the best pop records can be. But Onward and Upward is at its best when King gets down and dirty. --Kelly Dearmore

12. Ill'e Grande by Analog Rebellion

Analog Rebellion, the solo project of Aledo native Daniel Hunter, is at once indie and tastefully commercial. With the cool and dissonant sound of a Sophia Coppola film, the album evokes almost every mid-'90s band at once -- a fusion of post-punk, grunge and a darker shade of New Wave. Tracks like "Out of Your Mind" and "We're Not Talking to Any More Lawyers" are thickly glossed with power-chord progressions and pleasant synth distortions. Hunter's pop-siren voice takes flight, resisting the grounding force of testosterone-anchored riffs, and each song comes through with the heightened passion of a live performance. --Eva Raggio

11. Inner Room by Chambers
The dog days of Texas summer are prime season to go in search of mellow, easily digestible balladry. However, Chamber's Inner Room tosses airy-summer themes aside for more emotionally rooted material, trading carefree vibes for substance. What stands out the most on this record are those carefully congruent harmonies serving as the backdrop against guitarist Judson Valdez's intricate guitar finger picking. Songs such as "Not the Same" and the title track emanate with somber themes. And although these tracks dwell a bit on the moody side, they each have a consistent escalation, an uplifting resolution hovering at each song's horizon. --Aaron Ortega

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