With the 28th annual Dallas Observer Music Awards just around the corner, we will spend the next several weeks highlighting 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.
Each year, the Best New Act category is one of the most anticipated at the Dallas Observer Music Awards. In 2015, the honors belonged to soul singing phenomenon Leon Bridges, and the year before that it was Party Static, who return this year with nominations in four categories. So who will be among the bands to watch in the years to come in Dallas music? These 5 lead the way.
Cure for Paranoia
Some artists write about parties, some write about romance and some tackle topics with a bit more heft. Cure for Paranoia craft soul-inflected hip-hop songs that address the larger issues affecting our country, including mental illness and the racial injustice that plagues the legal system. One of the chief songwriters, Cameron McCloud, has been diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia, which manifests itself in songs by the group like “Normal Person.” This provides a unique and honest perspective on a topic that is difficult for neurotypical people to fathom. Cure for Paranoia are band that continuously challenge your perspective, but don’t sacrifice any quality — and that makes it all the more impressive.
Sometimes hip-hop needs to get a little weird, and FXXXXY certainly delivers, sampling exotic sounds such as thunderstorms, and mixing them with traditional hip-hop beats. Their most recent release, Cartel Shawty, blends surrealist elements with accessibility in a way that really makes the listener question the way they understand hip-hop. It’s almost entirely self-produced, barring some collaborative effort from 11am on the track “Columbian Exchange,” making the album almost entirely the brainchild of FXXXXY. Don’t worry though, there is still plenty of familiarity for those seeking more traditional hip-hop sounds, as well.
The Heavy Hands
A lot of people seem to think that good old fashioned rock 'n' roll is dead. If you ask the Heavy Hands, however, they would be inclined to disagree, mostly because they’re the ones working to keep it alive. Led by John Tipton, they write straightforward, raucous bangers that feature just the right amount of gain, and sly blues influences that never fail to impress. Their single “Little Cindy” possesses all the hallmarks of traditional rock music, complete with catchy hooks, booming vocals and just the right amount of simplicity. If you consider yourself a purist, then look no further than the Heavy Hands.
For those of you that like a little more garage in your rock, Loafers are here to fill that gap. On their latest split with Teenage Sexx, the words at the bottom of their Bandcamp page read “Recorded in our home by Eric Vaughn,” and boy does it sound like it. Of course, this is a good thing. It makes for grimy, fuzzy, unapologetically fun party music. The first track “Creep Around” even boasts some surf-rock goodness to demonstrate that even lo-fi has some range. If you’ve ever shotgunned cheap beer surrounded by 12 strangers and someone you only kind of know in a sweaty garage, this is for you.
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Glam isn’t a word used to describe many artists these days, and that’s what sets Siamese apart. They make fun, engaging art-pop that redefines boundaries and blurs the lines between theater and music. More interesting still is their use of onstage alter egos that lend to the atmosphere of surrealism that surrounds their performances. Siamese push the envelope on their single “Savage High” that features ominous and foreboding vocals, mixed with minimalist guitar that crescendos at each chorus, suspending the listener inside their own subconscious, before dropping them back into reality.
Vote now for the Best New Act and many other categories at 2016musicawardspoll.dallasobserver.com.