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. Our series on the best of those continues today with another ten releases:
In an age where fans can cherry pick and pay only for their favorite songs throughout iTunes, A.Dd+ released this entire album as a free download, and it is an invigorating set of raucous beats and expressive melodies. It will tug at your emotions, with tales of the struggles of the everyman; you'll want to own every minute of this release. This mixtape was among the best collection of Southern hip hop-styled sounds contained within one album in 2013. But still, it retains an unmistakably kinetic quality that only A.Dd+ possesses, one that transcends regional hip hop sub-genres. With the Screw-based dramatic episode bumping through "Where You Been" and the groove-heavy and club-ready "Suitcases," every moment on this album makes for a tough challenge for other local artists to de-throne these kings of Dallas, and a warning to every rap group on the planet.Aaron Ortega
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Buffalo Black -- S/T Buffalo Black is a curious case. Dallas rap's anti-hero is often overlooked for his more party-centric counterparts in the local rap scene, but it's not enough to stray him away from the often serious and political undertones of his records. On The Buffalo Black LP, he explores various themes of sexual frustration, social injustice, and civic disconnect. The album's production from Trust Beatz, N.O.M.A.D., Justin McMillin, Mustapha Mond, Mattron, Onetalk, and the rapper himself is some of the best Dallas rap saw all year. Smooth and understated beats perfectly compliment Black's sharp tongue and scathing delivery. Conceptually, the album is one of the most realized bodies of work we had the pleasure of hearing this year. Vanessa Quilantan
Fogg -- Fogg Demos Fogg, the best (and youngest) psych-metal outfit in North Texas, delivered one of the most impressive debuts of the year. Tape hiss glow and Sabbath-like tunings are the staples of the aptly named Fogg Demos. Smeared with shoegaze fuzz and stoner vibes, this five-track release plays out like a reverby mescaline vision pulled straight from every '70s era metal-head. The spindly guitar hooks and woozy timbres paint a dreamy aesthetic--a hazy, neon form that sounds like metal chords trapped in a never-ending film dissolve. Absurd, trippy, and just right, the Fogg Demos represent the biggest mind-fuck DFW birthed in 2013. Jonathan Patrick
Midlake -- Antiphon Denton heroes Midlake lost lead singer Tim Smith, and as a result, the album they had been working on at the time. The group, now featuring Eric Pulido on the main mic, kept their name and made their most psychedelically pleasing record to date, Antiphon. Less flute and a more up-tempo feel has the collective still sounding very Midlake-like. Such triumph through possible disaster is encouraging, indeed, as theirs is a continually bright future. Kelly Dearmore
Power Trip -- Manifest Decimation Not only did Power Trip release its first full length effort this year, the band also got signed to the Southern Lord record label. After an exhausting tour through most of Europe and Russia, Power Trip paused briefly at home this week before heading out across America in 2014. The best punk/metal band in Dallas is definitely at a make it or break it moment. Darryl SmyersSam Lao -- West Pantego
It is a particularly rare occurrence to see an artist's star rise as fast as Sam Lao's has off the strength of one 6-song EP. When the young visual artist dropped her debut project,West Pantego
, this summer- Dallas immediately fell in love. From the seductive coos of her lush singing voice on "Haze", to the sultry spoken word ferocity of "Run!", to the tough girl brass she bares on "Pilgrims"- Sam Lao illustrates a depth of range that few artists in this city can execute on one cohesive project. On top of her staggering talent, her boho-angelic beauty and self-proclaimed frizzy haired swag are quickly making her one of Dallas' most adored live performers.VQ
True Widow -- Circumambulation True Widow could've easily been excused for using a new, beloved record label (Relapse) and their position atop a self-appointed realm of Stonegaze to go into a different route with their new album, Circumambulation. Instead, they masterfully continued along the pounding, plodding pace they've marched along with so much prime, hazy doom. D.R. Phillips, Nicole Estill and Slim, TX (drummer Timothy Sparks) hasn't merely cemented their recording skills at a high level, but the trio's live show only grows tighter. No other show in town will ever feature what can only be described as the world's slowest possible display of head-banging. KD
Tunk -- Direct Deposit Tunk's Direct Deposit was easily one of the most self-actualized, personal, and authentic rap releases of 2013. It will likely be remembered for years to come, as a defining moment in the 24 year old rapper's career. Tales of unrelenting drive and determination to provide for his family, maintain his autonomy in a disenfranchising world, and stay on the straight and narrow path shape the main thesis of "Direct Deposit". Throughout the mixtape's fifteen tracks, Tunk continues to cement his reputation as one of the last stalwarts of the traditional Southern rap style, without sounding dated or recycled. For that reason alone, Tunk has proven he has very little competition in the city's rap scene. VQ
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Various Artists -- Dreamy Soundz Group Therapy Vol. 1 Compilation Recorded live at the Where House in Fort Worth, the 16 tracks on the Fort Worth-based psyche/garage rock label's inaugural compilation encompass a wide range of young, punk-ish bands from both sides of the Trinity, including Fungi Girls, The Longshots, Uboat, Year of the Bear, and the recently disbanded hardcore band Big Fiction. If you want to know what the kids are up to right now, this is a pretty integral document. Steve Steward
Vulgar Fashion -- S/T "Krystal Tearz" is a glittery goth dance beat that seems to have been reanimated from the dead soundtracks of '80s era horror movies and given fresh new life through an infectious bass line and haunting vocals lent by Julie McKendrick. The song proved this Denton synth/noise/experimental duo was already capturing the perfect dynamic between fuzzy noise and danceable rhythms, and it caught the attention of Pitchfork back in February. And once you've digested "Krystal Tearz," there's still the rest of the album to take in, and each track is an enjoyably uncomfortable sound on the dance floor. AO