Best Of Dallas

The 5 Best New Acts in Dallas of 2015

With the 27th annual Dallas Observer Music Awards just around the corner — in fact, voting is open right now at — we're looking to spend the next several weeks taking the opportunity to highlight some of the nominees for this year's awards. And when we say these artists are the "Best," don't just take our word for it: We polled 200 local music experts to pull together the nominees this year, so they come on pretty good authority.

When the calendar turned to 2015, we knew we were in for a wild year of surprises from a variety of newcomers to the North Texas music scene due to an almost unexpected amount of hype buoyed by the signing of an artist to a major label, and some exciting debuts. In an ever-changing landscape of music there’s always room for new artists to show up and establish themselves as interesting voices in the area, and these five artists have done just that.

The Azalea Project

North Texas' obsession with teenage musical groups dates back to the '90s when a young Ben Kweller and some friends formed Radish and were promptly declared the next big thing. From there it’s been a mish-mash of teenaged bands from a variety of genres declared the thing to see in Dallas, only for them to find the pressure too much and peter out, or for the media to move on to something newer and shinier. It seems we might finally have a group that will buck the trend: The Azalea Project was born out of a childhood friendship and nurtured by a stint at Dallas’ Booker T. Washington School for the Performing Arts, and doesn’t seem limited by the fact that the group formed so young. Yes, the hype is raging, and the band is young, but it seems like the group is poised to take advantage of the opportunity.

Leon Bridges

Since a chance encounter with a member of White Denim in a Fort Worth bar, the world has been a blur for North Texas’ new favorite son. He’s signed with Columbia Records, made his national television debut, been written about in Rolling Stone, The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal. He’s released his first album to wide critical acclaim and released a remix tape of that album that reinforced his street cred. Bridges is currently touring the festival circuit on the strength of all these accomplishments and enjoying the sort fanbase growth only an Apple iPhone commercial can provide for an artist. 2015 is just the beginning of the Bridges hype train; either get on board or out of the way.

Pearl Earl

If this Denton group can keep their stage beards on there’s probably nothing stopping the college town’s best new group in ages. Bratty, fun and just flat out better than many of their Denton contemporaries, the group has been taking the North Texas music scene by storm with a vocal snarl and sly grin on their faces at every venue that’s ready to rock the hell out with four talented musicians with a taste for space and the dramatic. This is the best band you haven’t seen yet, Dallas.

Rat Rios

Hype started to fly around Samantha Rios’ Rat Rios project in late January when several media members caught the eclectic songwriter performing a set at Three Links. From there the local machine started to gather and set the machine in motion. Rios would play house shows in North Dallas she’d pop-up on bills at the Crown & Harp; and from there she would start to show up on Vice Palace bills. All of this came with the attention of the local media who scrambled to be the first to write about Rios and her music. It’s fascinating to watch how an artist’s hype grows in a local market; it’s even more fascinating when the hype is well deserved.


Multi-DOMA nominee and 2014 Best Punk Act winner the Phuss wasn’t enough for singer and guitarist Joshua Fleming. He decided that playing rock didn’t quite scratch enough of his musical itch, so he went and formed a country act. The result is the Vandoliers, which sound like Conor Oberst decided to get the Desaparecidos drunk and make a Lee Hazlewood cover album. This being Dallas, people immediately decided this was something great, and this being the music section of the Dallas Observer we’re here to say, “Yeah, this is pretty great.” So when someone comes to town and wants to scratch their own music itch, but with a Texas tinge to it, make sure you take them to see the Vandoliers. They’ll thank you kindly for it.

KEEP THE DALLAS OBSERVER FREE... Since we started the Dallas Observer, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Dallas, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Jaime-Paul Falcon