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Hometown Highlights: Aaron Alexander, Rat Poison, Sleepwvlker + more

Do you want to hear 10 of the best local tracks to come out in the last few weeks? You're in luck. They're right below here. Long-running hip-hop favorites return, electronic transmissions are received, a couple rock acts drop new stuff, and we dig up some Frank-inspired R&B.

Aaron Alexander - "Faces" (ft. DEV3N)
As Aaron Alexander puts the final touches on his (very) long-awaited project "Memento Mori," he has released a new track from it. "Faces" is a dreamlike battleground between the left side of Alexander's brain and the right. In the song's magnificent video (directed by Kendu/HiiFreq) Alexander is haunted by a trio of faceless specters and encounters the cloaked DEV3N rapping a cerebral verse. Much like the last single, "Faces" carries strong R&B undertones, but never betrays those who came to hear Alexander rap.

Rory Fresco - "Involved"
According to Rory Fresco's Twitter, the playfully psychedelic video for "Involved" was filmed right after hopping out of bed one morning. After a few seconds of whirring traphouse keys, Rory rushes onto the scene with an irresistible hook and a verse or two further detailing his come-up. He gave us "Teen Spirit" just last month, but he's made it clear now that he practically lives in the studio.

Mess - "Bloodlines"
Kansas City's Mess was considered something of a breakout band in 2016. The young quartet landed a handful of high profile gigs and appearances that boosted them far above their peers, performing at Middle Of The Map Fest and a busy show with Cloud Nothings. Mess will be releasing a debut EP, "Heartswithholes" on August 12 and is building some hype with "Bloodlines." The band's polished recording style and pop sensibilities are apparent on the new song and should draw praise from indie rock fans on multiple parts of the genre's spectrum.

Gee Watts - "Caesar's Palace (Planet Of The Apes)"
"Caesar's Palace" fits all prerequisites for a Gee Watts loosie. Most tracks from his past projects like "199X" and his upcoming "Caviart" feature an intense Watts with razor-sharp focus, keen on telling his stories. Many of the tracks released intermittently between these projects, however, are a bit more lighthearted, often containing comical sexual references and a more laid back tone -- and that's just the case on "Caesar's Palace." Watts swings from bar to bar like Tarzan does with his vines, dropping several clever brags along the way. But when things grow too breezy, Watts smacks the listener with some hard truth to keep things in check. Halfway through the song, he drops this whopper: "Momma tryna find the man who find their strength within a gun / Take our daddies from us then they mock us for not having one."

Sleepwalker - "Valley" (ft. LyMerrick)
Post-"Blonde" R&B is looking to be an exciting era. "Valley" is the fourth track on Kansas City musician Sleepwvlker's latest EP, "Church Clothes." This tuned-up, futuristic slow-burner is a must-listen for anyone who suffered their first heartbreak after Obama's second term began.

Alliance - "Us"
Alliance is a new alias adopted by Cole Crawford earlier this year. Inspired by movies set in outer space, the first EP from Alliance, "Scanners," consists of several slick electronic and instrumental hip-hop tracks that possess the chrome sheen of a spacecraft silently hurtling through the dark. "Us" is the first track on the project, and alone shows that Crawford is one of the strongest electronic musicians in the area operating independent of Intelligent Sound.

Rat Poison - "Angel Wings"
Bennett Weaver is a man with no need for a fidget spinner. He has enough instruments, gear, and pent-up angst to keep himself occupied. Seeing that his first solo punk project (Killakee Kat) is now a full band and his second (Gene) is going in a new direction, Weaver figured it was time to start another. Rat Poison is his back-to-the-basics Midwest hardcore project with songs not yet reaching one minute. Hard Leather may have been a throwback to the Kansas City bands of 2012, but "Angel Wings" and the other track on this digital cassingle hit even harder.

X.Wilson - "Light+Sound"
Those who missed X.Wilson at the Light+Sound event earlier this year now have a chance to hear what he prepared for it. "Light+Sound" appears on Wilson's new EP, "Contrast," out on MalLabel Music and is a twinkling instrumental soundscape with more dynamic melody than some of his tougher, previous offerings.

Maal A Goomba - "Black Hippie"
Named after an infamous tweet from A$AP Yams, Maal A Goomba's latest mixtape, "Read My Horoscope N It Said Letskedditt," creates an absurd energy similar to that of the late, great tastemaker's online presence. Nearly every song on the tape features a prominent sample from a famous musician or band complemented by Maal singing lackadaisical hooks and rapping stream-of-conscious verses. The tape's final track samples The Cure's "Close To Me."

SuperShaqGonzoe - "She On Go" (feat. Rory Fresco)
Shaq is back. Produced by Shaq and DK, "She On Go" is is Shaq's first new song out in roughly one year. He and Rory are both performing at the star-studded Flyover show this weekend and likely wanted something hot to debut together on-stage. It seems as though Rory's love for auto-tune may have rubbed off on Shaq, but who knows what sounds he will emerge with next. Until then, we have this banger.

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