It occurred to me recently that, within the DFW music scene, people really love to draw county lines. So what we were trying to illustrate with our 2012 Dallas Observer Music Awards nominees is that Dallas, Fort Worth and Denton aren't three separate entities, but rather one big music community that can help nurture and foster an identity we sometimes seem to be lacking. There are some known names in the bunch, sure, but we also wanted to elevate some of the lesser-known bands. That said, we're excited about our group of nominees, and we hope you are too. We'll see you in Deep Ellum this weekend (check out our DOMA Bingo card for added drunken fun) and the ceremony at House of Blues on Tuesday.
All the details you need for both events await, in the pages that follow and at dallasobservermusicawards.com. Here's your introduction to our showcase stars. -- Audra Schroeder
Reno's (Inside), 210 N. Crowdus St.
Ducado Vega, 6:20 p.m. Did duo Ducado Vega get their funk in your R&B, or did you get your R&B in their funk? Don't think about it too hard, just enjoy their glammed-up approach to the genre.
The Tidbits, 7:20 p.m. Dallas' free-form jazz trio the Tidbits have encyclopedias worth of knowledge between them, and are quite adept at balancing improvisation with more straight-ahead rock 'n' roll. The question isn't what instruments will they play, but what won't they?
Big Fiction, 8:20 p.m. Dallas quartet Big Fiction slapped their aesthetic on the cover of April's Prison Van LP, signaling to all that despite all their rage, they (and we) are still just a rat in a cage. Their daylight set at September's Riot Fest got them to a bigger audience, one craving their bottom-heavy diatribes.
Cutter, 9:20 p.m. Electronic duo Cutter lurk in the darker corners of dance music, employing drum machines, live drums and keyboards for a sound that's anything but chill.
The Atomic Tanlines, 10:20 p.m. Denton foursome the Atomic Tanlines stole the show a few months ago at Rubber Gloves, bringing the night to a grinding halt with their brass-knuckles mix of queer politics and classic three-minute punk purge.
Somebody's Darling, 11:20 p.m. With their latest album, Jank City Shakedown, Somebody's Darling have beefed up the soul, R&B and rock 'n' roll side of their sound. Don't worry, there's still some country in there too.
Zhora, 12:20 a.m. When singer Taylor Rea left Ishi, that group suffered a big loss. Rea was the vocal anchor, and she gets her deserved shine with new group Zhora, a dreamier electronic endeavor. An EP came out earlier this year, as did a slowed-down reinterpretation of The Cure's "Just Like Heaven." Fingers crossed for a full-length soon.
The Roomsounds, 1:20 a.m. This four-piece really went for it by titling their debut album We're #1. They've also got a song called "Kinks," so you know what era they're coming at you from.
Dada (Inside), 2720 Elm St.
Sarah Sellers, 5:40 p.m. Local singer Sarah Sellers first came to my attention via Dallas jazz institution Damon K. Clark. But beyond that shining recommendation, I had no idea she'd been a contestant on American Idol, or that she had a pretty hefty series of YouTube song covers out there, reinterpreting Adele and Lana Del Rey. Or that she's a prolific food blogger. Or that she has a killer voice.
Clint Niosi, 6:40 p.m. Clint Niosi's 2008 LP, The Sound of Dead Horses Beaten Against Cold Shoulders, was a fine album built around his voice and acoustic guitar, but its spareness made it feel like a bookend on something bigger. Even the artist himself admits that: "I felt in hindsight that perhaps it could have been a bit more daring." The Fort Worth guitarist's new LP, For Pleasure and Spite, explores that. It is angry at times, quiet in others, the extremes when dealing with grief and loss, which were the foundation of the album.
Home by Hovercraft, 7:40 p.m. If you've ever wanted to employ the phrase "hardcore ballooning" and have it not refer to some sort of sex act, Home By Hovercraft have you covered. Helmed by husband and wife Seth and Shawn Magill, the five-piece's music is classically informed, and yet pop in its translation. Their musical components include tuba, piano, mandolin and a step dancer, and they're currently at work on songs for the musical On the Eve, which is about Marie Antoinette, time travel and a hot air balloon.
Ronnie Fauss, 8:40 p.m. The way Dallas singer-songwriter Ronnie Fauss was "discovered" by the folks at New West Records is pure old-school. It was an acoustic in-store gig at Houston's famed Cactus Records, which caught the right ears and led to the next chapter in Fauss' career. Certainly the in-store performance was serendipitous, yet it would be a mistake to assume all Fauss has done in recent years is simply perform on occasion and hope the right person hears his songs. Since the release of his 2009 EP, I Can't Make You Happy, Fauss has been a regular on bills with Brent Best (Slobberbone), Danny Balis and Grant Jones. But Fauss will soon be taking his time-tested songs far beyond the metroplex with his first full-length album, I Am The Man You Know I'm Not, which is also his debut release on Normaltown Records, an imprint of New West.
Mora Collective, 9:40 p.m. It's curious that the Dallas band Mora Collective -- bassist Chris Isaacs, saxophonist Zach Puchkors and drummer Eric Yacula -- have yet to find an audience in their hometown. Cowtown listeners remember the heydays of ace fusionists Bertha Coolidge and dub juggernaut Sub Oslo, and the trajectory of Confusatron, which started as a trio, busking downtown in front of the Houston Street Coffee Haus, and wound up a groove-oriented septet that regularly blew the ceiling off the old Black Dog Tavern. Mora Collective's sound, which combines jazz, dub, hip-hop and space-rock, fits easily into this matrix.
Blackstone Rangers, 10:40 p.m. In the span of about a year, Blackstone Rangers have gone from an electronic duo to what we've come to label as "distorto-pop." The trio's summer release on Dallas Distortion Music, Into the Sea, found a more comfortable home in the woods of bright melodies and clean riffs.
Michael Donner & the Southern Renaissance, 11:40 p.m. Southern renaissance is right: This Dallas five-piece has put their own spin on country music. They're nominated for Best Country Act, but there's no honky-tonk two-stepping here. Just a knack for harmonies and storytelling, as heard on last fall's No Better Time.
The Colurs, 12:40 a.m. Multi-instrumentalists Max Townsley and Drew Erickson make up Denton's The Colurs, and they've recently released their self-titled debut EP, on which they play all primary parts. They even composed an accompanying orchestral score.