Express Rising was originally the recording moniker of Chicago's Dante Carfagna, a record collector and producer associated with the great archival label Numero Group. With his new release, "Fixed Rope," Carfanga has added William Suran and Fayetteville's Kevin Blagg, who also records under the name Cellophane Garden; the trio recorded the album somewhere in "rural Arkansas" with synths, pedal steel, banjo and a wash of reverb, loose atmosphere and mysticism. It's an ambient record with a real sense of place, and it's one of my favorite Arkansas releases in months.
2. Keshawn - "Constructive Happenings"
The latest from Little Rock's Keshawn. The video is unpretentious and hypnotic, and the song itself is scattered and compelling and pretty wild, with spooky synth trumpets and "Dexter's Laboratory" references.
3. Young Spielberg - "Black Camaro"
With a name like Young Spielberg, I admit I'd hoped for a rapper deeply indebted to "Close Encounters of the Third Kind," but this works too — home-recorded indie rock about ominous cars and tragedy.
4. Yung Envy - "Bonnie & Clyde"
I like everything about this song from Little Rock's Yung Envy, off his "Yung At Heart" EP. Recommended for fans of Serge Gainsbourg, the original "Cosmos" soundtrack and relationship rap.
5. Sister Fox - "Trail's Not Over"
A great and deeply strange Acid Western song-suite from Fayetteville's Sister Fox, featuring cannibalism, banjos, chanting, jaguars and a spoken word intro in the Mayan language Kaqchikel.