Fall Music Preview, Part 3: Ryan Thomas Becker, Smile Smile, Nicholas Altobelli, Tum Tum and many more

Hey there. What’s fah lunch? Pimento cheese? Yish. No thanks, I’ll pass. … I’m only here to finish out my three-day fall music preview (Part 1 here, Part 2 here). Today I’m checking in with a few talented staples of the scene, and then I’ll round it out with some info-packed quick hits. Here go …

Many in the North Texas music community could vie for the hardest-working-musician title, but one of the strongest contenders is the Denton singer/multi-instrumentalist Ryan Thomas Becker.

While climbing to the top of the local food chain as the vocalist-guitarist for the rock ’n’ soul duo RTB2 (with drummer Grady Sandlin), Becker’s found plenty of time to mix it up with other musicians in his hometown and beyond. His restless creative spirit keeps the hungry music media and fans buzzing, as do his frequently powerful live performances. In the next few months he’ll stay as busy as ever, he told me in an e-mail.

“The new Stuart Sikes-produced RTB2 album is ready and all but released,” Becker wrote. “Hopefully, it’ll be out in the winter time. No title yet.”

Couple of fall goodies coming before that: An Oct. 21 show at Denton musical haunt Dan’s SilverLeaf will mark the release of a new EP by Ryan Thomas Becker & Last Joke, the band he’s put together to back him on solo tunes and cover versions.

“We’ll be coming out with a 6-song release called Last Joke Band, consisting of songs written by our friends (New Science Projects, Tony Ferraro of Eaton Lake Tonics, Jeffrey Gruber of Descender, a lifelong friend of mine, and a coupla Austin artists).”

Listen to the first Last Joke single, a stomp-worthy cover of Ron Scott’s “No Time Lover,” here.

And then there’s a record coming from Becker’s artful, pop-leaning supergroup, Hares on the Mountain, which includes George Neal (Little Grizzly), Justin Collins (Burntsienna Trio) and a few more Little D regulars.

“We’ve been playin’ at Dan’s on Sunday during happy hour pretty consistently over the past several months and have developed a nice crowd,” Becker wrote. “We just recently went into the studio with Mr. Collins twisting the knobs. Our new record will be called It Will Only Hurt Forever.”

Get a feel for Hares’ sound by checking out the Becker-Neal recordings that started the damn thing, here. Neal’s a strikingly raw and passionate vocalist, one of my favorites in the area.

Dallas can also claim a Ryan who’s constantly on the music grind – Smile Smile’s male half, Ryan Hamilton. His folk-pop songwriting chops (and flair for extracting melodies from emotional maladies) have elevated his flagship band, which he shares with ex-lovah Jencey Hirunrusme.

Smile Smile’s currently hard at work on its third album, a follow-up to last year’s highly confessional Kirtland release Truth on Tape. Who’s producing it? Bastion of the Big D scene Salim Nourallah, who’s got plenty of exciting stuff coming down the pike his own self.

After visiting Smile Smile and Nourallah in his East Dallas recording studio last week, I’ll go more in-depth with those guys in my next regular column here. Along with that will come some insight on the upcoming People on Vacation album due out around Thanksgiving.

People on Vacation is the odd-couple act consisting of Hamilton and Bowling for Soup singer Jaret Reddick. To hear them tell it, Hamilton is the introspective yin to Reddick’s hook-machine yang. Check back next week for more, and in the meantime, see People on Vacation live this Friday at Dada.

Having been reared on a diet of Louvin Brothers and Nashville Now reruns, I’ve always taken pleasure in watching Dallas’ the King Bucks perform their mix of honky-tonk covers and originals. Member Joe Butcher tells me that the Bucks’ sophomore album is coming out this month, with a big party on the 24th at the band’s de facto home base, Adair’s.

Writes Butcher, “The CD is called Bar-b-que Drugs. Like the last one, we all contributed – Danny [Balis] has a few standard country numbers, Chad [Stockslager] has a few rockers, Keith [Killoren] is up to his Dylan-esque ramblings, I have one song called the Undertaker which was actually written by Keith with lyrics by our old pal John Freeman.”

Singer-songwriter Nicholas Altobelli tells a hell of a story on stage; his tunes thus far have been fueled by reverence for early Dylan folk structures, combined with a self-deprecating Kimya Dawson vocal style. But all that could change after Altobelli releases what he says will be his last folk album for a while, a collection coming out in October (but streaming earlier) called When Now Becomes Then.

“It was recorded in my apartment during the summer,” Altobelli tells me. “Very lo-fi and very folky … very folky. Folkiest thing I have done. But I will be taking a new direction in 2012. I’m just tired of playing solo acoustic folk music.”

What the new direction might be, he didn’t say. But I’m secretly hoping Altobelli tries on a radio-pop hat at some point. He’s got the melodic skills, fa sho.

And now for a little rappers’ delight: Bric Flair, a member of Tum Tum’s team, sent me some nice nuggets regarding the Dallas rapper’s next album, TumK11. It’s out on Halloween.

TumK11 is gonna be basically a cross-section of the last year, year-and-a-half’s worth of his music,” Flair wrote. “New material, but it will be a balance of the laid-back smoke s–t and the Dallas … rob-a-bank type music.”

Sounds like just the kind of mix my car speakers appreciate from Tum Tum (pictured), who blew up a few years ago with his laid-back national hit “Caprice Muzik.” Go ’head and check out his latest free mix-tape, The Dallas EP, for a taste of what’s to come.

Flair also reminded me of another big October release, Dorrough’s Silent Assassin. Dorrough’s the local bad-boy behind the 2009 breakout tune “Ice Cream Paint Job.” Girl Talk loves him.

More odds ’n’ ends: Melodic Dallas rock band Air Review is prepping a new EP for the fall or winter; hear the title track for America’s Son here. … After a lineup shakeup a few months ago, popular Dallas dance band Ishi will debut a new single during Sunday’s Local Edge radio show. … Exit 380’s Dustin Blocker tells me his indie label Hand Drawn Records will put out his band’s full-length Townies in December, as well as Fort Worth band Secret Ghost Champion’s Psychosomatic Immortality on Oct. 28. … Sir Silky (pictured) the sexually charged alter-ego of Dallas singer Cheyenne Schweitzer, will branch out from pure pop into electronica on the EP Sirmons, coming “soon.”

As I said in this space a few days ago, there are most certainly great albums and artists missing from my preview, as I am not perfect and all-knowing (well, at least not all-knowing, wink). That’s why I’m excited for the opportunity to go back at this crazy scene on a weekly basis … so bear with me. And don’t forget to hit me up with your recommendations: [email protected].

Until next week …


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