Lone Star Sounds: Five new North Texas releases worth lending an ear

Black Tie Dynasty (L to R: Blake McWhorter, Cory Watson and Brian McCorquodale). Photo: Andrew Sherman

North Texas is nothing if not overflowing with talent turning out new recordings at a formidable clip (look no further than each week’s installment of “The Local Show” for proof).

Given the recent abundance of new and noteworthy releases, we’ve rounded up a few below to bring to your attention. The definition of Texas music is ever elastic, and nothing better illustrates that point than these five distinct (and distinctly different) efforts.

Secrecies, Perfect Bite

Pressing play on Secrecies’ sophomore album, Perfect Bite, is like taking a plunge into a heady, futuristic landscape. Shawn Magill’s luminous vocals pull you along, buttressed by Leah Lane’s guitar, Alex Bhore’s synth and guitar work, and Dean Adams and Ivan Beltran’s percussive contributions. Over a dozen majestic, finely wrought tracks, Secrecies cements its status as one of the most sonically gorgeous (and ambitious) acts in North Texas.

Black Tie Dynasty, Steady

Returning with its third full-length after a 16-year hiatus, Fort Worth’s Black Tie Dynasty picks up as if no time has passed on Steady. Titled in honor of its late drummer, Eddie Thomas, the surviving members — Cory Watson, Brian McCorquodale and Blake McWhorter — enlist drummer Mark Baker to fill out the foursome, and deliver more of the dark-hued synth-pop that’s won them fans the world over, as evidenced by surging, anthemic cuts like album opener Beginner and Maladjusted.

Theo Carracino, Better Than a Dream

Fort Worth-based singer-songwriter Theo Carracino took half a century to realize his debut album, and he makes the most of his moment. Generous at 15 tracks, Carracino worked with engineers Mark Randall and Nick Tittle at Blackstone Studios to cut 13 songs in a single afternoon, armed with nothing more than his engaging tenor and his acoustic guitar. There’s a vivid intimacy to his lyrics — “Jane” aches with the weight of years — and crisp dexterity to his guitar playing.

4Batz, U Made Me a St4r

The Dallas native born Neko Bennett (better known to his rapidly growing fanbase as 4Batz) makes a splash on his debut mixtape U Made Me a St4r. The 20-year-old singer, rapper and songwriter, who has earned co-signs from Drake and Kanye West, has poured his heartache into these 11 tracks, as evidenced by the opening moments: “All I know is that heartbreak [expletive] a [expletive], boy, no cap/It’s like one moment, I’m going through the worst [expletive] I ever been in my life/And then the next moment, I’m one of the biggest artist in the world.”

(Liv).e, PAST FUTUR.e

(Liv).e (pronounced “Liv”) is a Dallas-based singer-songwriter and producer (born Olivia Williams) whose sonic aperture is open particularly wide, employing a glitchy, magpie sensibility to knit together hip-hop, R&B, jazz, soul and synthwave to create a sound unlike much else in North Texas. This new EP, which follows her superb 2023 LP Girl in the Half Pearl, throws down the gauntlet with its peculiar, irresistible opener “Bad Girl!” — electronic bleats laid against a hyper-caffeinated backbeat evoking a Game Boy on meth, dappled with jeering backing vocals — and only grows more singular from there.

Preston Jones is a North Texas freelance writer and regular contributor to KXT. Email him at [email protected] or find him on X (@prestonjones). Our work is made possible by our generous, music-loving members. If you like how we lift up local music, consider becoming a KXT sustaining member right here.