A Year of Rebirth: The 10 Best Texas Music Albums of 2013, from Kacey Musgraves to Midlake
None ranked among Billboard the magazine’s top 10 artists for 2013, but commentator David Okamoto says the year was unique for Texas musicians, established and new.
ten. SamLao, West Pantego – A mesmerizing six-song calling card from a Dallas rapper merges booming beats, fast rhymes, and inspired nods to Santana and Coldplay into heady declarations of independence.
9. Radioactivity, Radioactivity – The band, a side project featuring Denton’s Marked Men’s Jeff Burke and Mark Ryan, crank out 13 crackling punk-pop salvos in 30 minutes keeping the chord count low and the exuberance high.
8. Okkerville River, The Silver Gym – Austin band lights up after 2011 I am very farweaving lush textures and sunny ’80s pop hooks around frontman Will Sheff’s nostalgic riffs on his New Hampshire youth.
7. Relatives, electric speech – The first album of new material in over 40 years from the reunited Dallas gospel group: Majestic vocals, trippy guitars and funky beats, forge a sound that is both heavy and celestial.
6. black joe lewis, Electric slave – The Austin guitarist ditched his throwback R&B antics in favor of a twisted, distorted ruckus that echoes the Black Keys more than James Brown.
5. Steve Martin and Edie Brickell, love has come for you – An original collaboration between the Oak Cliff native and the Waco-born comedy legend turned bluegrass star. Brickell’s engaging vocals wind around Martin’s rustic banjo as they focus on the happy medium between austerity and light.
4. Bill Callahan, dream river – An Austinite formerly known as Smog, Callahan’s hushed baritone doesn’t drive so long as he drifts through wobbly arrangements, reminding us how Leonard Cohen might sound if he came from the Great Plains instead of the Great White North .
2. Midlake, Antiphon – Guitarist Eric Pulido takes over after the departure of frontman Tim Smith and helps the band Denton reinvent themselves by developing the ethereal grooves of ’60s psychedelia and ’70s progressive rock – with all the hypnotic beauty and none of the bombast.
1. Kacey Musgraves, Same trailer Different park – Her East Texas roots lend an irreverent edge to her introspective tales of small-town standoffs and withered relationships, and her honey-coated voice exudes grace and confidence. While the 25-year-old smartly denounces indifference and intolerance on Nashville hits like “Merry Go Round” and “Follow Your Arrow,” Musgraves doesn’t just sound fearless — she sounds like the ‘to come up.
Commentator David Okamoto works as a content production manager at Yahoo! in Dallas. His music reviews have previously appeared in publications such as Rolling Stone, ICE magazine and the Dallas Morning News.