I wandered around the Dallas music scene lonely as a freelance cloud, the Dallas Observer Music Awards were about as interesting to me as a medium-sized rock in a coffee can. Who cares what anybody else thinks?

Ah, the carefree ways of callow youth. Now that I'm the Observer music editor--in charge each week of a few pages of cheap newsprint where music, the people who make it, the people who make their living off of it, and the people who listen to it all come together--the dynamics of the Music Awards are downright fascinating. Really.

Like the proverbial tree falling in the woods, music played to an empty room has little effect, and the vital role of the listener is what is honored each year when we solicit votes for your music scene favorites. Although it sometimes defies logic or common sense, the results of this poll are as valid as an unimpressed audience sitting on their hands throughout a brilliant set. No, Ooga Booga isn't a reggae band, but the fact that they were nominated as one tells you something--either about the band, the Dallas reggae scene, or the people who vote in the survey; maybe all three. Yes, the Sutcliffes are aggrieved to be voted a cover band, especially when they do a lot of original material, but the fact that Cover Band is the category where they showed up...

Anyway, that's why we have write-ins. Nobody here presumes to know more about the local audience-performer dynamic than the participants--you, and you, and all y'all. The fact that Funland got so many votes based on things they did in '95 isn't so much wrong as it is a sign of lingering affection for a great band. Those feelings are exactly what these awards are about.

--Matt Weitz

Afton Shack
Nominated for: Funk/R&B
First it was Goodfoot. Then Whitey. Then Beef Jerky. Now it is Afton Shack's turn to be the new head of the Hydra called white-boy college funk. You know the line-up: a whole bunch of guys on stage dressed in pimp gear from Goodwill--for the requisite funkeh look--carrying horns. Lots of them, a multicolored centipede with one goal in mind: to funk yo' lame ass.

Whether people choose to play funk because they can't write any melodies is a moot point. Bands like Afton Shack provide fast, disposable entertainment, and their musicianship is as undeniable as the desire to par-teeee. Afton Shack practices its own religion, wherein George Clinton rules supreme and the Red Hot Chili Peppers wash his socks.

--Philip Chrissopoulos

American Fuse
Nominated for: Rock
There is absolutely nothing modern or now about the American Fuse, and this is their most endearing quality. They are not post-modern or post-punk; in fact, these guys don't give a damn about post-anything. Instead, they simply play loud and proud, like a head-on collision between the New York Dolls and the MC5. The band creates a big racket supported by sturdy melody, and it wouldn't be a surprise if it turned out they traced their name back to the MC5's "American Ruse."

The Fuse is infatuated with the ragged edges of rock: You know, Lemmy's warts, Johnny Thunders' habit, Iggy Pop's self-mutilations. Ten or 15 years ago, this Dallas trio would be a laughable anachronism when contrasted with the possibilities still left in punk. Today, their no-frills approach is almost heroic.

--Philip Chrissopoulos

Nominated for: Album Release
One of the more surprising successes to come out of Dallas last year was that of Bedhead, who received glowing praise for the album Beheaded from national as well as local critics. Comparisons to such notable bands as Galaxie 500 and Luna placed Bedhead on a rather tall shelf, but this album clearly deserved it. Beheaded is the first fully realized effort from Bedhead, and it's garnered them the respect of international audiences. Shaped by droning guitar noise and My Bloody Valentine vocals, Bedhead are architects of sound, constructing melodies that slowly gain speed and force until they've got your full attention. And Beheaded finally captured the spirit, making it undoubtedly one of '96's best local releases, if not one of the best in the nation.

--Richard Baimbridge

Nominated for: Alternative Rock/Pop
Like an insurgent from the future unveiling his plan to battle some all-too-probable oppression, singer-songwriter Hop Manski introduced Bobgoblin three years ago as futuristic fighters for artistic expression in the "Black Market Party Revolution." At least that sort of explained the numbered jumpsuits and the video monitors lining the stage.

The out-of-this-world concept may have set Bobgoblin apart, but it also made them look like a low-rent Devo. Yet Bobgoblin puts out crisp, well-rounded power pop that sounds smart, so perhaps it isn't surprising that Bobgoblin signed a deal with MCA last summer. The resulting album, The Twelve-Point Master Plan, features all kinds of CD-ROM enhancements to explain the band's alleged history and prove that Manski and the band have still bigger fish to fry.

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Richard Baimbridge
Philip Chrissopoulos
Arnold Wayne Jones
Scott Kelton Jones
Rick Koster
Alex Magocsi
Tim Schuller
Matt Weitz
Howard Wen

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