The 10 Dallas Punk Songs Every Dallasite Should Know

The Nervebreakers were one of Dallas' seminal, and most legendary, punk bands.
The Nervebreakers were one of Dallas' seminal, and most legendary, punk bands.
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In the annals of punk history, most cities have a batch of punk bands the define the city's legacy. New York, Austin, Los Angeles, Minneapolis and Washington all had bands that put their scenes on the map. In Dallas, you have to dig a little deeper, but there are at least a dozen essential songs in the local punk canon. These 10, however, each coming within the first 20 years of Dallas punk, are absolutely necessary for any true fan.

1. The Nervebreakers — "My Girlfriend is a Rock" (1978)

The Nerverbreakers are Dallas’ very own authentic ’77-era punk band. During their original run, they could be found opening for punk elites like the Sex Pistols (at their one and only Dallas show), Ramones and the Clash. Nervebreakers are largely considered the first punk band in this part of the country. These guys are our Ramones. Our Sex Pistols. Their 1978 single, “My Girlfriend is a Rock,” is about a girlfriend who is, well, a rock or a piece of chalk or alabaster or maybe wood. What the girlfriend is made of is never completely determined, but the band spends a solid three minutes pondering it — and it's catchy.

2. Dot Vaeth Group — "Shock Treatment" (1978)

Dot Vaeth ripped through the new punk sound in Fort Worth, squeezing out one 7-inch record. They relied heavily on covers of British and New York bands for their live shows. They produced the "White Collar Worker"/"Armed Robbery" 7-inch in 1978. A chance meeting with a lighting company that wanted to produce a promo video has found the band immortalized on YouTube 40 years later with their take on the Ramones' classic, "Shock Treatment."

3. Vomit Pigs — "Useless Eater" (1978)

Fueled by Quaaludes, boredom and a "Watch me defy death" attitude, the Vomit Pigs of Daingerfield kicked off in '74, pre-dating the vast majority of the more well-known punk of the time. Their debut single came out four years later and to this day is one of the most sought-after and expensive rare punk singles on the market. Led by Mike Vomit (apparently the only actual fan of punk music in the band), the Vomit Pigs foreshadowed the punk rock of the late '70s and early '80s on that debut single. The new wave-ish pop of "Slut" and the postpunk rant of "Art of Insane" suggest more wisdom on the punk movement than they probably realized at the time, but "Useless Eater" is a bit of self loathing that has its feet firmly planted in punk of '78. 

4. Stickmen With Rayguns — "Grave City" (1987)

Stickmen With Rayguns were in the curious position of becoming local legends despite having almost no official releases until long after they were gone. Austin’s End of an Ear label has helped to rectify that by releasing a compilation of all of the recorded material they could find. The song “Grave City” did appear on the A Texas Trip compilation in edited form, though, a sluggish sonic piece of punk skronk that predates bands like Scratch Acid and the Melvins. They were kindred spirits with Austin’s Butthole Surfers and shared many bills together before the Butthole Surfers became more prominent on the national stage. 

5. The Telefones — "She’s in Love (With the Rolling Stones)" (1980)

The Telefones were Dallas' contribution to the symbiotic relationship between punk and new wave, a fine line that was commonly blurry in the early '80s . “She’s in Love (With the Rolling Stones)” was the second release on VVV records, a label responsible for releasing a significant bulk of early '80s new wave and punk from North Texas. This catchy tune documents the constant struggle many left-of-center punks have had with girlfriends obsessed with mainstream music. 

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