By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
By Alice Laussade
By Scott Reitz
If you think this week's cover feature is an end-all, comprehensive look at Dallas music Web sites, you're mistaken. "Plugged In" focuses on only three major bloggers; the people behind Gorilla vs. Bear, We Shot JR and Texas Gigs are certainly worth the attention, but what good is a piece on the local blogging scene without a look at the smaller fries? Services like BlogSpot and MySpace allow anybody to do what those "big three" have pulled off, so the notion of a blog hierarchy misses the point. Besides, adding more sites to your browsing history only takes a few keystrokes, so take a wider look at the scene through the glowing, monitor eyes of these pages:
Indie Interviews (indieinterviews.com)
Garrison Reid's site receives only minor mention in the feature, but it deserves a subscription check-mark in your iTunes' "podcast" section. Nearly every week, Reid delivers informative, informal audio interviews with the best touring bands in the nation; though his focus is national, fetching indie heavies like the Wrens and TV On the Radio, he conducts almost every interview in the Dallas area and even includes locals like Midlake, the Baptist Generals and the Polyphonic Spree.
"The more I talk to bands, the less I care that they're 'ooh, rock stars,'" Reid says. "I cut it down--you're just a dude who plays good music. Everyone's a dude, you know? That casual nature is what I want to catch on the audio." And he does just that, asking the kind of curious, pointed questions that fans, not journalists, want to hear their favorite bands answer.
Though the site is usually categorized as "the dude in Dallas who loves Brit-pop," there's more going on here than a Dallasite's UK love affair. Consider this a solid starting point for those new to (and bewildered by) the growing national MP3 blog scene. Torr crawls through bazillions of blogs and picks the best bootlegs, video clips and MP3 leaks to save you the trouble. Don't expect much local here, but other conveniences, like Billboard chart analysis and a convenient weekly list of every late night talk show's musical guests, make this a worthwhile metroplex contribution anyway.
The UnObserver (myspace.com/unobserver)
Harking back to the '90s days of free, crappy-looking Geocities pages by local music fans, the UnObserver is an all-caps mess (and an English major's nightmare). So why bother? Because it's the loudest online presence run by the old Dallas guard. Our rockabilly-leaning underground gets the most attention here, though metal and psych-rock are given a fair shake as well. Though the site bitches about musical favoritism in papers like the Dallas Observer, this site has its own blatant biases, but the unfiltered look into the Bar of Soap/Red Blood Club crowd makes up for the site's fouls.
Summer Break Records founder Robert Jenkins and local writer/musician Lindsay Graham interview local critics, musicians and industry types about our city's music scene. (Full disclosure: Jenkins and Graham have lured not only me but also former Observermusic editors Sarah Hepola and Zac Crain into their podcasting frenzy.) The guys also sample new and classic songs from DFW/Denton and even play a local version of The Gong Show, though they have an annoying habit of talking over the tunes. And updates are horribly infrequent, so even though the duo promises a forthcoming joint venture with We Shot JR, I'm not holding my breath.
denton Rock city (dentonrockcity.com)
dRc's busy public forums are trolled by the best--and worst--in Denton's music scene. Frequency Down host Frank Hejl announced his cancellation here, and the owners of the new Secret HQ music venue announced their grand opening on the forums as well. It's not a newbie-friendly place, and about two-thirds of the content is inside jokes and conversations about what people had for lunch that day (no, really), but the concert announcements and gig reviews buried in the chaff are worth the search.
DFW Hip-Hop (forum.dfwhiphop.com)
You'll find the same BBS bloat here as on dRc--in fact, DFW Hip-Hop's forums are even messier, filled not only with inane banter but also spamming from some of the worst rappers in town. But if you're a clueless hip-hop fan who's been hipped to the local scene solely by chance encounters at Gypsy Tea Room's Final Friday concerts or PPT's airplay at Dallas Mavericks games, this site is your direct plug to the scene. After all, most Dallas MCs don't promote shows more than a few days in advance, which means this site is your key to weekend gigs (not to mention underground competitions and one-off DJ events).
Unfair Park (dallasobserver.com/blogs)
If you missed it a few weeks ago, click the "Local Music" tag on the Unfair Park sidebar to pull up Robert Wilonsky's Dallas Music Matters series. This encyclopedic look at Dallas music history--complete with full, high-quality MP3 samples--deserves your attention and your downloads. And if I missed any important sites, never you fear...we'll link to more on our blog once angry e-mails start flowing in.