By Kelly Dearmore
By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
By Alice Laussade
These honors confirm what the discerning Dallas music fan has long known: Jaffe is a supreme talent.
Last month, Jaffe released a combined EP/DVD release called The Way Sound Leaves a Room. The EP portion finds the singer trending in a more experimental, more electronic direction but still maintaining her intimate, revealing songwriting ways. The DVD portion, meanwhile, showcases the once-shy performer's suddenly palpable onstage confidence.
In many ways, the release is a confirmation. Jaffe's great, sure, but she's only getting better, and will be a fixture in the North Texas music scene for as long as she likes.
Best Local Music Advocate, Best Radio Show ("The Local Edge" on KDGE-FM 102.1 The Edge)
He's charming, he's funny and — dammit, America! — he loves him some local music.
There really isn't a stauncher advocate for the local music scene than Schectman, and he proves it passionately and repeatedly every Sunday night during his hour-long 11 p.m. time slot on KDGE-FM 102.1 The Edge with his show "The Local Edge," which he's hosted since 2009. When you listen, you can hear in his voice his excitement over new tracks and his awe at the abundance of musical talent in the region.
It's as if he's using his hour not as a chance just to play some songs, but rather to market the scene as a whole to anyone who'll listen.
By day, Schectman works as a marketing representative, helping various area businesses find their audiences. It makes sense, then, that he's good at doing the same for local music, right?
Yes and no. See, what sets Schectman apart is the somewhat daring way in which he advocates for local music. Before he took over "The Local Edge," the show mostly highlighted area butt-rock also-rans. Since taking control of the show, Schectman has confidently taken it in another direction, highlighting the acts on the more indie side of the spectrum, the ones who, before he came around, had no place on the local radio dial. Schectman gave these bands a home, and has proven himself a fine host in the process.
Best New Act
Earlier this year, Ross Edman released his first full-length album, Slowdrifter, under the name of Datahowler. The heavily instrumental album received positive feedback all around, and was praised for sounding at once vintage and futuristic, thanks to its artful combination of hip-hop, jazz and electronic influences.
"When my album came out, I was going through a lot of growing pains," Edman explains. "I didn't think it would go anywhere. I really did it for me. I didn't imagine the possibilities of where it would take me. The album led me out of poverty, gave me confidence, made me new friends and did even more. It was a turning point in my life. I never thought I'd be here."
But here he is.
So what can we expect from Datahowler in the next year?
"More live performances, more singing, more band members and lots more music and art," he says. "And hopefully a lot of experimental things as well."
The Red 100's
Best Blues Act
The Red 100's play the blues as if the band members' lives depended on it. But let's get this out of the way early: These guys' version of the blues is based not on a traditionalist such as B.B. King, but more influenced by Jimi Hendrix's psychedelic take on the genre.
"Blues is at the heart and soul of everything we do," says Red 100's bassist and lead vocalist Robbie D. Love. "Rock 'n' roll wouldn't sound so exciting without the roll added to the rock, which comes from R&B and the blues."
Whatever the influences, the attack of The Red 100's is that of a wickedly fierce beast. And this much is certain: When Live off the Floor, the band's debut EP, came out this year, it signaled the arrival of one of the area's most interesting bands — blues or otherwise.
The House Harkonnen
Best Hard Rock Act
In a category filled with incredibly worthy acts, long-timers The House Harkonnen finally get their due this year.
With a dirty hard-rock sound that could be considered of the stoner variety, the band is not ashamed to mess around with other inspirations, too. Whether it's covering a Nirvana song or devoting an entire set to Weezer songs, the four-piece pummels their audience each and every time. They recently finished up a short tour around Texas, and, after heading to Louisiana to record some new material, fans can expect to hear some new tunes next year.
Eleven Hundred Springs
Best Country Act
It wouldn't be a farfetched notion for the Observer to consider renaming the Best Country Act award The Eleven Hundred Springs Award. In other words: This is hardly the band's first time taking home this prize. But the fact that the band, now in its 13th year, has won this award again, well, that's an impressive feat.
And Matt Hillyer and crew don't seem to be in the mood to let someone else claim their PBR-drenched crown, either. Recently, Hillyer and stand-up bassist Steve Berg have increased their entertainment portfolio, hosting a weekly country radio show on KHYI-FM 95.3 The Range that highlights good area country acts — albeit ones that aren't as great as they are.