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12 North Texas Artists to Watch in 2014

Somebody's Darling performs at the Libertine in December.
Mike Brooks

It's getting to be time to focus on 2014: A year we think will be a good one in North Texas music. Here are 12 of the artists and bands we expect to be on everyone's year-end highlight roundups this December.

See also: Five Local Rappers to Watch in 2013

Buffalo Black -- Buffalo Black is angry; y'all don't hear him though. The young Oak Cliff emcee is a highly skilled lyricist who paints raw and visceral imagery with his verses. His subject matter leans darker than his peers, and he's more inclined to speak on the social injustices of modern society than how strong the turn up is. Yet for some reason, he's often overlooked when people talk about the most exciting up and coming talent in Dallas rap. One could argue that the man whose real name is Jamil Kelley doesn't hit the show circuit hard enough. But in the last couple of months, we've seen an upswing of bills featuring his name. With the release of his new single, "Blood Frets No Man," people are starting to pay closer attention. The forthcoming REDPILL Wondrlnd EP is sure to be super hot fire, judging from the production preview on his soundcloud page. Vanessa Quilantan

DJ Colly T -- DJ Colly T has done a fantastic job taking over the highly coveted Thursday night residency at Knox-Henderson hotspot Beauty Bar. His VIBE parties are consistently drawing a sizable crowd with a hot and danceable weekly blend of Indie-dance/nu-disco, house, garage, bass, deep house, and tech house. He's been making some rounds doing guest spots on other popular weekly DJ nights around the city as well, working hard to promote his personal brand. We're going to be seeing a lot more of this guy in the next year. VQ

Convextion/E.R.P -- It's hard to overstate the influence that Convextion (Gerard Hanson) has had on the world of techno music. From the deep, dubby leanings of his early material to the forward-looking electro of his newer tracks as E.R.P, this local auteur is simply one of the most important techno producers on the planet (his 2006 s/t LP is widely regarded as a masterpiece). And yet, in DFW Hanson has remained almost entirely off the radar. While not much is known about the secretive Dallas native, it really doesn't matter, as his music hardly requires the crutches of a biographical narrative to remain both impressive and intimidating. Following several years of relative inactivity, Hanson has been busier of late, releasing a handful of tracks on various labels over the last couple of years. With Convextion/E.R.P's productive gears heating back up, 2014 is set to be a very exciting time for both Dallas and techno music in general. Jonathan Patrick

Cygnus -- Internationally recognized electro producer Cygnus makes the complex and the beautiful sound easy. Virtually unknown in Dallas, this artist currently crafts some of the finest electronic cuts around. It's time locals start taking notice of Cygnus -- in fact, it's long overdue. His sound is cool, clean and labyrinthine, like so many paths in a vast crystalline ice garden; and yet his tracks glow with an unmistakable warmness, like how Kraftwerk's machine music always felt more human than human music. The effortless excellence of his 2012 full-length, Newmark Phase, made it absolutely apparent that Cygnus is the real deal. This heady producer's future is looking very bright, indeed. JP

Mga Czar -- Rodney "Mga Czar" Rollins has long been an active and important part of the Dallas rap scene. Rollins' brother is one half of Nasagang, one of the most prominent local hip-hop lifestyle marketing brands in the city. Dallas rap artist management extraordinaire Rosalinda Ruiz was among his classmates at Skyline High School growing up. He sits in close counsel to some of the city's most talked about hip hop artists, and has been a mentor to many members of this tight knit community. Like Buffalo Black, his diminished exposure level may have to do with his frequency of live shows, but those who have seen him live know that he never disappoints. His set at A.Dd+'s Every Man Is King show in December has been talked about for weeks. Smart, insightful, and witty lyrics with an engaging delivery will keep you bobbing your head, and Rollins' signature ace dance moves will keep you cheering for more. VQ

Old 97s -- There's a reason Rhett, Ken, Murray and Phillip are still a big deal when they get together. They can still kick just about any other band's ass on-stage. The band's The Grand Theatre Volume I in 2010 and Volume II in 2011 were rightfully praised. The quartet, now together for 20 years, recorded a new album this past October in Austin. It's tentatively scheduled for a spring release and the song we've had the pleasure of hearing is an edgy, stomping cow-punk tune which proves they still bring it better than most. KD

Sudie -- Sudie showed up on our radar when she was invited onstage with The Danny Church Band at the 25th Annual Dallas Observer Music Awards Showcase this year. In a red floor-length dress, she was a jaw-dropping breath of fresh air that left the audience wondering where this beautiful voice came from. The raw emotion and drama in her serenade hits the listener deep, drawing them in with her siren's song. Just when she's got you hypnotized, she hits you with a jazzy croon over a warm R&B bassline. Sudie's music is evocative and sexy, leaving the listener always wanting more like an estranged love. VQ

 

Rania Khoury -- Rania Khoury's debut album Stone Wolf was a hell of a freshman effort for the summer of 2013. The big, booming, bluesy sound of her ballads and strong vocal belts set her apart from a lot of female vocalists in Dallas. Khoury is a skilled guitar and piano player, and takes to both in her compelling and flooring live show. This Summer she wowed the audience at Klyde Warren Park's outdoor Summer concert series. Rania Khoury is definitely worth putting on your live music agenda for 2014. VQ

Madison King -- In 2011, Madison King released her strong debut LP, Darlin', Here's to You, and immediately became one of the top country-rock vocalists in North Texas in the process. Effortlessly switching from ass-kicking numbers to tear-inducing tales, King showed us much very early. If all goes to plan, March will see the release of her follow-up album, the fittingly titled Onward and Upward. As strong as her songs were three years ago, it'll be exciting to see what the time since has given her to turn into killer tunes. KD

Kaela Sinclair -- Kaela Sinclair is easily Dallas music's rookie of the year in 2013. Her debut album Sun & Mirror was one of the city's best releases. Produced by Midlake's Mckenzie Smith, the album's 24 tracks showcase Sinclair's sweet cooing vocals and knack for crafting melodic pop ballads. In the new year, this 23 year old Denton-based singer songwriter's star is only going to continue to rise. VQ

Somebody's Darling -- Somebody's Darling's 2012 bluesy-rock album, Jank City Shakedown, introduced a more forceful vibe to listeners. A few weeks ago, Amber Farris, David Ponder and the gang played at Hat tricks in Lewisville and focused on new material that will pop up on the group's next record, to be released in 2014. At Hat Tricks that night, SD was incredibly tight thanks to having been on the road for two weeks up until that point. "Set it Up" a new song, was memorable for its sheer power and the performance that night was memorable thanks to just how damn good this band is. KD

Telegraph Canyon -- This past April, during a show at the Granada Theater, Telegraph Canyon lead-singer Chris Johnson introduced what he called the band's new single, "Wheel to the Garden." As people cheered, the tune began with Johnson's prickly banjo strums and piercing vocals, two of the band's hallmarks. It's a fantastic tune, and it's now been four years since the chamber-rock outfit's resplendent The Tide and the Current captivated local fans. A note on the band's website promised the new record in 2013, so here's to hoping we hear it soon. It's tough to imagine it won't be worth the wait. KD

See also: -The 100 Best Texas Songs: The Complete List -The Ten Most Badass Band Names in DFW -The Best Bands in DFW: 2012 Edition -Photo Essay: The Tattoos of Dallas' Nightlife Scene

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