There's no definitive way to say how many albums, EPs, mixtapes and other new music came from North Texans in 2013. Bandcamp keeps track of tags, and it has over 400 releases for "Dallas" since mid-April. So figure somewhere well into the thousands.
We listened to as many of those as we could find, and lots of them were really good! This was an especially strong year, with our national and international standard-bearers exploring new territory, and our up-and-comers proving we'll have plenty of excuses to spend another year in dark bars with stages. Earlier this week, we announced your ten favorite North Texas albums of 2013 (you can still vote for a winner). Now, here are ours. Or part of them, anyway -- the first ten, in no particular order.
Bukkake Moms -- Michael Briggs "Atrium of Hernias," the opening track from the album Michael Briggs, seven songs tightly crammed like fine grinds of espresso being packed by a tamper into 17 minutes of compact cacophony, is a noisy and sludgey shot that will weed out any casual listeners. Big Cum, the band's release from August this year, was no doubt a enjoyable, tumultuous recording. But the Micahel Briggs EP is undoubtedly their best recorded material of the year. Underneath the Moms' NSFW lyrics and somewhat playful demeanor, you can see there is a certain attention to detail in their song-writing as evident in their complex rhythm swapping. It doesn't take a lot to appreciate such a fine mastery of noise production this band so casually wields. Aaron Ortega
Cutter -- EP The newest EP by electronic duo Cutter gave listeners a boiled-down four track teaser of any of their energetic live shows during 2013. "Curse," the opener, is decidedly the best track, and it is an unnerving dance beat breath of fresh air during a time when some electronic and synth-heavy practitioners lean more towards the pop end of the spectrum. AO
Kylie Rae Harris - Taking it Back The world of Texas Country/Red Dirt still suffers from a lack of creative estrogen. Such a low level of femininity isn't the result of Kylie Rae Harris not being around and stunning folks with her tunes, though. Harris has been gigging on her own and singing harmony for Zane Williams for years now. Thankfully, in 2013, she finally got around to releasing her EP, Taking it Back, the follow-up to her 2010 debut, All the Right Reasons. The tender breeziness of her folk-feeling collection was certainly worth the wait, even if it makes us hope 2014 brings out more new songs from her. Kelly Dearmore
Home By Hovercraft - Are We Chameleons? While art-rock as a category covers a lot of territory, there are bands, such as local chamber-pop outfit Home by Hovercraft, which take the label more literally. With a roster of fine art veterans boasting a whimsically varied musical approach and a keen, perfectly-timed sense of drama, it's not unfair to call this Seth and Shawn Magill-led group a Theater-Rock collective. Is there such a thing? Well, if there wasn't before, there is now. KD
New Science Projects -- Hard On For the enigmatic Dale Jones, leader of New Science Projects, 2013 could only be considered an unqualified success. Not only was the band nominated for its first ever Dallas Observer Music Award, the instrumentally challenged outfit released Hard On, one of the best local albums of the year. Here's hoping New Science Projects will venture outside of Denton and even North Texas to bring their bizarre shows to new audiences. Darryl Smyers
Pinkish Black --Razed to the Ground
The second LP from Fort Worth metal duo Pinkish Black is a very slippery beast. With its bright electronics and bleak hues,Razed to the Ground
, at times, sounds like a marriage of new-wave and krautrock. But when considering its celestial tendrils and pummeling linearity, you'd almost like to call it space-metal. The album is as challenging as it is rewarding, a collection of left turns that never cease to impress: piano interludes segue into gothic bass crescendos, ambient blocks grow into sci-fi synth grids, it's enough to launch your psyche into a tailspin.Razed to the Ground
shows that these guys are only getting bolder, and the metal scene is all the better, and more adventurous for it.Jonathan Patrick
There's a shocking dearth of tank-top wearing, beard-wielding Southern Rock bands in the Dallas-Ft. Worth area. We're not talking about country-rock or rock with folksy flourishes, but the kind of greasy roadhouse fare that Quaker City Night Hawks offer. WithHoncho
, the Ft. Worth gurus of boogie and hustle brought muscular rhythm and stick-to-your-ribs funk back to fight the hipsters and break any pair of ironic Buddy Holly eye-glasses they may drunkenly stumble upon.KD
Silver Saint -- Another Five Hours Another Five Hours, the new EP from local stunner Wanz Dover's Silver Saint project, is one of the most moving guitar releases of 2013. Put it head-to-head with any other "rock" record from this year (local or international), and it will never come out bleeding. It's the variety of Another Five Hours that really make it soar. If you stripped away the textures, the melodies would still carry you to heaven; take away the atmospherics, and it's still as daunting as anything from this year; even if you robbed it of its percussive crawl, you would have a record that could make Thurston Moore blush. With its 20th century classical flavor and cinematic effect, Dover's latest product is at once monumental and eloquent. JPTidals -- Experiments
The Fort Worth duo's mix of dub and woozy atmospherics sounds like the come-down headspace of a particularly ominous mushroom trip, as sampled film clips chant over soporific keyboard loops, found sounds, and off-kilter beats. If there was a way to score the way your subconscious sorts sensory overload, this is what it would sound like.
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War Party -- Tomorrow's a Drag Soaring choruses, jangly guitars, and tales of broke-down vans and the broke-ass dudes who drive them are dunked in buckets of reverb and splattered across ten short bursts of hooky, garage rock glory in the Fort Worth five piece's debut full-length. Drag's characters are living the good life on the downlow, scraping by, getting high, and making the best out of the boredom of growing up. It's a deftly worded soundtrack to the afternoon you spent digging through the cushions for beer money. SS