Five DFW Bands Under 21 to Watch in 2016

The Azalea Project doesn't let the black marker of death keep them down.
The Azalea Project doesn't let the black marker of death keep them down.
Breonny Lee

With the return of the D.O.C., Leon Bridges' soul revival and basically everything St. Vincent has done in the past 12 months, Dallas has been raising the bar for other musical communities around the country. With such an eclectic mix of artists calling the North Texas area "home," it's no surprise that younger, high-caliber talent is rising up.

As the end of the year is upon us, now is as good a time as any to look to the future of our music scene. Here are our best bets for bands comprising artists aged 21 and younger to keep your eye on in 2016.

The Azalea Project, Dallas

Three years after opening up for Black Rebel Motorcycle Club with his former band Plowboy , vocalist/guitarist Jonah Smith — along with fellow Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing Arts classmates Julian Smith and Max Lewis, plus friend Kyle Forster — have formed The Azalea Project. With their flawlessly smooth instrumentals and impressively mature songwriting, with obvious nods to their influences such as Elliott Smith, Wilco and Radiohead, The Azalea Project are the very definition of potential.

After snagging a nomination for best new act at the 2015 Dallas Observer Music Awards and killing it at the DOMA showcase, the band caught the attention of McKenzie Smith and Joey McClellan of Midlake. Smith and McClellan were so impressed with the young artists that they are currently in the process of producing a new TAP track. And considering the amount of steam this band has garnered in the last 12 months alone, it's safe to say there are great things to come for these guys. If you have yet to catch a live show, head to The Kessler Theater on December 30 and watch them open for Seryn. You won't be disappointed.

The Happy Alright, Dallas

Pop-punk is not dead. The Happy Alright, a four-piece from Dallas, released their second EP, Esperando, earlier this year and reignited our love for fast-paced pop vocals infused with punchy chord changes. Esperando is pure, pop-punk perfection, from its sugary intro track, "Introduccion," to the contrasting, toe-tapping grand finale, "Lost at Home." 

This band has mastered the abrupt, in-your-face showmanship along with the bittersweet melodies reminiscent of Blink-182's Dude Ranch. And in a sea of bearded folk-rockers, rap and experimental bands, it's good to know that at least one group of kids can appreciate the need for some good ol' fashioned Warped Tour fun. 

Sad Cops, Coppell

Shoegaze is not a genre you would expect an average music listener to recognize, let alone appreciate. But with their debut EP, Best Friends, the Coppell-based trio Sad Cops have managed to find the perfect balance between deep strumming, just enough fuzz and raw distortion to make the emo shoegaze gods proud. The result is something the band refers to as "post-tweemocore."

When they aren't playing in their church band, Sad Cops can be found paying their dues at some of the most well-respected venues in Deep Ellum and Denton, as well as any vacant tennis court or pop-up venue. The band has their first, full-length LP in the works, but more immediately, they will be sharing the stage at Club Dada with fellow list-mates The Azalea Project on January 16. 

Glasir, Dallas

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Post-rockers Glasir are everything you didn't know you needed in North Texas music. Their echoey depth and twangy textures make them sound like some kind of glorious hybrid of Explosions in the Sky and This Will Destroy You. And when you ask bassist Nate Ferguson to describe his band, he'll say, "We are instrumental, we are loud and our drummer dresses like a dad." Talk about a killer first impression.

Beginning January 2, Glasir will begin a seven-show tour with Arkansas sludge metal aficionados Auric, ending at Crown & Harp on January 9. Outside of that, the band remains busy preparing for the vinyl release of their EP, Unborn, on Swiss-based Elusive Sound Records, while also writing their first full-length record, which should be out late next year. 

*Full disclosure here: Glasir's drummer, Austin Vanbebber, is 22, but we're not inclined to hold that against them. 

Little Image, Dallas

After meeting on social media, the members of Dallas' answer to indie pop-rock, Little Image, wasted no time in churning out music. The band's 2014 release, These Are Just Words, is peppered with experimental pop notes and ambient acoustics, which make for a calming, positive listening experience. Copeland, Lydia and From Indian Lakes come to mind with the band's combined vocals, which are ultimately enveloped in whimsical guitar distortion and lightweight percussion. 

The band has been touring steadily since the release of its debut EP. They're keeping mum about any upcoming releases, but because of their regular gigs and the time since their last release, this is a band worth your attention this coming year.


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