35 Denton Friday - Hip Hop, Etc.
The 35 Denton hip hop and R&B acts this year are some of the best the festival has had since its inception. The headliner for this set and a big draw for the Denton crowd is rapper Astronautalis, joining him is Killer Mike who had an amazing 2012. The group is filled out by indie electro R&B star Solange, 35 Denton favorite A.DD+, and poetic rapper –Topic. (Kevin’s Note: I added a grab bag of artists to round this one out) Highlights:
Astronautalis (10) – Astronautalis is first a storyteller and second a rapper, a fucking excellent rapper at that. He’s constantly touring and moving as an artist, at each show he performs a freestyle based on topics, with a few rules to keep it unpredictable, suggested by the audience.
Doug Burr (10) - For my money, Burr is the strongest songwriter to come out of Denton since the boys from Midlake broke out, layering his songs with grace, honesty and spirituality. His performances are often mesmerizing, hushing the crowd with his emotional vocal tones only armed with minimal acoustic instrumentation.
Killer Mike (7) – Atlanta rapper Killer Mike has a brash in your face style and spits socially conscious bars that never alienate hardcore aggressive rap fans for fly by night fans. He paired with indie pioneer producer El-P for his newest album, R.A.P. Music, which finds Mike at the top of his game.
-Topic (6) – -Topic is a rapper from Dallas who writes poetic bars and he’s front and center on his tracks with jazzy backing beats that never drown out his intricate wordplay.
A.DD+ (6) – A.DD+ are a Dallas hip hop duo who are creating a buzz around the DFW metroplex for their high energy live shows and contrasting styles. Paris Pershun raps with a deep voiced slow flow, stretching words, while Slim Gravy raps faster packing bars with words or sings the group’s hooks.
Solange (6) – Solange is an R&B singer from a musical family in Houston, her newest release an EP titled True is a quirky mix of electronic indie pop songs that feature her charismatic warm vocals and danceable beats.
Chambers (6) – While Denton’s Chambers lives mostly within quiet and windless rooms on their initial tracks, the chamber pop band has an interesting way of layering sound with an eye towards complex and challenging harmonies. This is a nice break-off from expected minimalism, so hopefully this full sound will inform Chambers’ directions in the future.
Madisons (6) – Austin folk rock band Madisons has a well-formed sound, heavy on handclaps and down-home Americana roots. While these songs come across as relatively minimal and straightforward on their record Desgraciados, the band can expand to 12+ members live, so hopefully they bring plenty of friends to their 35 Denton showcase a week from tonight. The song “Sweetwater” should hold some special significance that weekend, as the title not only reflects songwriter Dominic Solis’ hometown, it is also the name of the venue Madisons will be gigging at.
A.M. Ramblers (5) – Local Denton bluegrass/Americana band A.M. Ramblers have a rootsy and loose sound, the kind of music friends make around the campfire. Musically, A.M. Ramblers have a strong sound, focused on laid back solos and traditional harmonies.
Daniel Francis Doyle (5) – Singer-songwriter Daniel Francis Doyle takes a minimal approach to pop music, though his sound ranges from terse, acoustic ballads to eclectic fuzz rock at different times. Of note are Doyle’s off-kilter rhythmic elements, allowing his songs to dip into disparate breaks that break Doyle’s music from the expected.