Here are the Winners of the 2012 Dallas Observer Music Awards

Best Album

Best Solo Act

Best Female Vocalist


Dallas Observer Music Awards

The Body Wins, Sarah Jaffe

Sarah Jaffe continues to be on the lips of North Texas music lovers in 2012, with her second LP, The Body Wins, revealing a tougher, darker side to longtime fans, and certainly gaining some new ones in the process. This new evolution is exactly why she remains relevant in our cultural landscape and important artistically, as Jaffe seeks new collaborators to dig into the nooks and crannies of her creative mind. Fingers crossed she puts down the bass to pick up yet another new instrument to compose with, as many eagerly await the next chapter in this hometown favorite's evolution. Deb Doing Dallas

Best Song

Best Punk Act

"Wait for Us," Mind Spiders

Meltdown, the second full-length from Mark Ryan's Mind Spiders, is fortified with pop-punk-new-wave ballast, but single "Wait for Us" is its finest moment, three minutes of strong-arm robbery that ends in a sci-fi spin of guitar, chant and synth. Audra Schroeder

Best Blues Act

Jason Elmore

Elmore's 2010 debut, Upside Your Head, was produced by the legendary Jim Suhler and featured a wide array of blues styles all held together by sheer tough-guy bravado. Echoing moments from Stevie Ray Vaughan, Freddie King and even ZZ Top, Elmore's best songs aim for the gut and are rarely off target. Darryl Smyers

Best Roots/Americana Act

The O's

Given that Taylor Young and John Pedigo have managed to make the basic instrumental arsenal of banjo, pedal steel, kick drum and harmonica sound rich and rootsy is a testament to their talent, and the fact that they might be the most popular act in town. Kelly Dearmore

Best Electronic Act


Duo Cutter are tentatively releasing an album on Dallas Distortion Music in the near future, but in the meantime, they've been slowly but surely gathering fans of their synth and drum war cry. Audra Schroeder

Best Experimental Act

New Fumes

Daniel Huffman's solo project New Fumes shows us he's just as at ease with the performance art components of his presentation as the aural ones. Projections, animal masks and his colorful pop-electronic compositions all work together to create an experience that is experimental, but never without context.

Deb Doing Dallas

Best Hardcore Act

Power Trip

Just the fact this category could've hosted a larger pool of worthy nominees says quite a bit about area bands that understand the nuance of a well-placed scream. Power Trip aren't a collection of angst-ridden youth spouting off about injustices, but if Riley Gale and crew had been active in the '80s, it's not hard to picture them in the middle of the action, if only because they would've been the ones causing the action.

Kelly Dearmore

Best Rock Act

The Breakfast Machine

After seeing this group at our Rock the Park event earlier this year, we knew they had the stage presence to rock beyond the park. March's A Pitch to the Wind finds them mixing pop, rock and a bit of funk, all propelled by singer Meghann Moore's golden pipes.

Audra Schroeder

Best Male Vocalist

Daniel Hart

Daniel Hart has a long history as one of North Texas' most unfailing supporting players for artists like St. Vincent and The Polyphonic Spree. His solo album, The Orientalist, is a lush piece of romance worth diving into. Hart's vocal deliveries are as nuanced as the compositions. Deb Doing Dallas

Best Pop Act

Burning Hotels

Burning Hotels took a minor gamble with their second record, last year's self-titled. Fusing some '80s pop elements to their post-punk style, masterminds Chance Morgan and Matt Mooty found themselves playing to even bigger crowds across the DFW area. Whether it was Trees, the Granada, Lola's or even the Winspear Opera House, the band has definitely made a positive impact and hopefully will deliver some great new music in 2013. Eric Grubbs

Best Folk Act

Hares on the Mountain

One of the best things about Hares on the Mountain is their ability to take you on a journey. Together, the six-piece group and its variety of instruments tackle subjects like death, drinking and camaraderie, and even when portrayed humorously, they still capture the essence of mid-century folk, updated for this modern life. Rachel Watts

Best Jazz Act

Yells At Eels

Trumpeter Dennis Gonzalez and his sons Stefan (drums) and Aaron (stand-up bass) recently played Trees as part of Index Fest, and picked up a handful of fans who'd likely never seen them. This is the power of a Yells At Eels performance. The trio's free-jazz excursions start at the base of the mountain and slowly wind their way up, until the altitude changes and you're out of breath. Audra Schroeder

Best Latin/Tejano Act

Mariachi Los Unicos de Greiner

"Los Unicos" means unique, and that certainly applies to this middle school mariachi band from Oak Cliff's W.E. Greiner Middle School Exploratory Arts Academy, led by founder Lupe Vargas-Garcia. Audra Schroeder

Best DJ

DJ Sober

Will Rhoten, aka DJ Sober, has been an integral part of the Dallas music scene for years. In 2012, he toured the country on Dallas rap duo A.Dd+'s Claps and Slaps Tour, scored the once-in-a-lifetime gig of deejaying Dallas Maverick Dirk Nowitzki's wedding, and his Thursday night party at Beauty Bar, Big Bang, has become one of the best weekly events in the city.

Vanessa Quilantan

Best Country Act

Somebody's Darling

There might be a better lead singer/lead guitar player combo in North Texas than Amber Farris and David Ponder, but such a case will not be easily proven. Farris' powerfully soulful voice is the smoke to the flames that leap from Ponder's axe when he really kicks out the jams. Their recent release Jank City Shakedown reminds us that country music can legitimately blow out amps. Kelly Dearmore

>Best Mixtape

Leon the Professional, (B)EAST

The "B" is for bass and the "EAST" represents the style and flavor of hip-hop, says Leon the Professional of his 2012 mixtape. That East Coast rap style translates nicely in Dallas' scene, however, and (B)EAST's furious spin of concrete flow and Southern boast makes for a one-of-a-kind jam. Audra Schroeder

Best None of the Above

My Wooden Leg

Experimental rock duo My Wooden Leg call themselves a "gypsytronic Balkan rock band." We couldn't come up with a better tag, so they found their way into the Best None of the Above category. Their experimental, sample-heavy sound is a product of two multi-instrumentalists and a MacBook. Guitarist Michael Maftean says that much like their live performances, their sound is ever-evolving. Rachel Watts

Best Funk/R&B Act

The Cannabinoids

In 2008, Dallas native Erykah Badu had the brilliant idea to put together an all-local live musical improv group. Joining forces with some of the city's most talented producers and beatmakers, Badu set out to give the artistic process of the remix a live setting. The Cannabinoids use eight laptops, three turntables, six keyboards, four drum machines, a theremin and live onstage production to create a visceral and lush soundscape like nothing you've ever seen before. Vanessa Quilantan

Best Instrumentalist

Petra Kelly, Hares on the Mountain

When we last wrote about her, violinist Kelly discussed how her fandom landed her spots in the bands she now performs with, like the Angelus and Hares on the Mountain. Since her addition to Hares, Kelly's strings have breathed life into the ensemble's songs. Rachel Watts

Best Cover Band

The Gorehounds

When a tribute to The Cramps wins Best Cover Band, you know Dallas is making some major strides. Most cities have to suffer through endless couch potatoes aping Bon Jovi or The Boss, but we get J.T. Dayton and Howard Kelley recreating some of the most toxic rock and roll ever made. Darryl Smyers

Best New Act

Blackstone Rangers

Derek Kutzer, Ruth Smith and Dan Bornhorst of Blackstone Rangers released the Salim Nourallah-produced Into the Sea, their synth-pop debut from Dallas Distortion Music, via cassette, and that's just plain cool. Kelly Dearmore

Best Metal Act

Pinkish Black

Pinkish Black winning this category is proof people are cool with their metal being less thrash and speed and more mood and ambiance. Jon Teague and Daron Beck's eagerly anticipated full-length self-titled debut is a remarkable feat of sound and spirit that comes close to transcending any categorization, let alone easily tagging it with a convenient label. Kelly Dearmore

Best Label

Good Recordings

As much a record label as an Internet-based song factory, Good Recordings certainly lives up to its moniker. But who can argue with a roster that includes such notable artists as Binary Sunrise, The Polyphonic Spree and Tripping Daisy? Add in the likes of Preteen Zenith, Sweet Lee Morrow and New Fumes and you have the makings of a kick-ass local music collective. Sure, the one-song-at-a-time thing is kind of precious and quaint in a DIY kind of way, but there's no arguing with the music. It's all damn good and demands your attention. Darryl Smyers

Best Producer

Salim Nourallah

For the seventh consecutive year, Salim Nourallah is chosen as the best knob twister and ego masseuse. There's nothing too fancy or obscure about the way Nourallah does his thing, and perhaps that simplicity is what attracts the likes of Rhett Miller, Smile Smile and Deathray Davies to Nourallah's Pleasantry Lane Studio. His style is crisp and clean and his recordings highlight each band's best features. Darryl Smyers

Best Talent Buyer

Parade of Flesh

Parade of Flesh is busy planning your free time and taking your disposable income with each new show announcement. You can trust the curation of their hardcore and punk shows, but look for their choices in alternative hip-hop, indie and comedy as well. Deb Doing Dallas

Best Record Store

Good Records

It's not a stretch to put the perennial winner of this category into the Best Venue category. Whether it's their always-epic Record Store Day celebrations, the big-name acts that appear for signings (Public Image Ltd, Deftones) or the caliber of bands that come to rock the Astroturf stage (Grimes, Hull, Anvil, Ting Tings), Chris Penn and his crew have a handle on quality tunes. Kelly Dearmore

Best Radio Show

The Paul Slavens Show, KKXT-FM 91.7

Since KXT's launch as an adult alternative station in late 2009, host Paul Slavens and his eclectic music show have served the tastes of many non-mainstream music seekers. From his random but spot-on selections to his deep consideration of his listeners' requests and feedback, he truly deserves this award. Rachel Watts

Best Venue

The Granada Theater

Over the past eight years, Mike Schoder's labor of love has been a room of high quality. Even with increased competition from some great venues, The Granada finds ways to improve its product beyond the musical realm. When it comes to one-stop spending of entertainment dollars, one will find it difficult to top the Sundown/Granada concert combo. Kelly Dearmore

Best Festival

35 Denton

If a Most Improved Festival category existed, 35 Denton might be a repeat winner. The former "Conferette" has displayed the ability to evolve as quickly as it has grown. Main-stage acts the Jesus and Mary Chain and Built to Spill were impressive this year, but so were the club bookings. 2013's already shaping up to exceed this year's roster. Kelly Dearmore

Best New Venue

The Foundry

With a generously large patio area, complete with a Jenga-style concert stage, the Foundry has stepped things up in Oak Cliff. It has hosted many free shows this year, including Menkena and The O's, providing a bright new development in the local music scene. Oh, and the Chicken Scratch place next door is great, too. Eric Grubbs

Best Video

Sarah Jaffe, "Glorified High"

This video, directed by David Lowery and Toby Halbrooks, sets the tone visually for the meatier sonic experience of The Body Wins' lead single, "Glorified High." Young dancer Emily Hoffman is the real scene-stealer here, interpreting that backbeat while Jaffe mediates an almost paternal conversation on rhythm and mood.

Deb Doing Dallas

Best Poster Artist/Screenprinter

Magnificent Beard

Connor Hill and Matt Brinker have an eye for the image that will stick with you, from their "Wu-Tang for Dummies" poster to that infamous Kills suicide scene. The duo knows how to get the graphic side across, while maintaining a subtle sense of humor. Audra Schroeder

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