With the 27th annual Dallas Observer Music Awards just around the corner — in fact, voting is open right now at 2015musicawardspoll.dallasobserver.com — 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.
Dallas loves its punk music. As in, you almost can't turn around without bumping into some. Check the many clubs in Deep Ellum on any night of the week and you're just about guaranteed to find at least one punk show taking place. So it's no surprise that some of the city's most widely loved bands happen to fall somewhere in the "punk" category. But that doesn't mean a homogenized sound; the five bands in this year's Best Punk Act category are all across the board, and that's just the way we like them.
Party Static are one of the best live bands in Dallas. Boasting dual vocalists Laura Harrell and Kjersten Funk, the five-piece has a flair for lively performances. A Party Static show is all over the place with the band's energy forcing audiences to try and keep up. For real: Standing still at a Party Static show will make you look stupid. From their first show in August 2012, the band has made a reputation with their energy, charm and wild sound, which was enough to earn them Best New Act honors at last year's DOMAs. Party Static released an EP on Valentine's Day this year entitled My Cat Doesn't Like That.
What can be said for Radioactivity that hasn't been said before? Nationally, they are one of the most beloved punk acts going today. The band boasts a who's-who of the North Texas punk scene for nearly the last decade. Jeff Burke and Mark Ryan are half of Denton's the Marked Men (one of this generation's most beloved punk bands). Daniel Fried and Greg Rutherford have played in more bands than can be counted. The amount of nuance, sensibility and pedigree the four bring to Radioactivity is without measure. At the end of June this year, the band released their latest LP Silent Kill on Dirtnap Records to great fanfare.
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Returning to the DOMA shortlist for Best Punk Act are local darlings Sealion. The band's sound can be described as a hodgepodge of indie, surf rock and punk music. Sealion is Cole Denton, Hunter Moehring, Alex Poulos and Samantha Villavert. In July 2014 they released their second full-length album Heavy Fizz. Despite its summer release, the album is perfect for fall weather. In addition to their solid recordings, Sealion's energetic live shows have helped the band obtain the adoration of the local music community. It's for this reason that Sealion is a must-see act in the Dallas music scene — and also nominated for no fewer than five awards this year.
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There are two ways to react to Slimy Member's name: a) disgust at its vulgarity or b) respect for naming themselves after a Rudimentary Peni song. Anarcho-punk and death rock are currently experiencing a renaissance in the U.S. punk scene, and Slimy Member are one of the best new bands playing this style in the entire country. The band had a great 2015 (one this writer predicted last year) that included the release of their follow-up EP, building momentum for their upcoming full-length, as well as touring the USA on the strength of a critically acclaimed demo.
Also returning to the DOMA Best Punk shortlist are the Street Arabs. The band, which began in 2012, comprises Matt Powers, Scott Boothe, Dan Guerra, Aaron Barker and Chris Mancini. In April 2014 the band celebrated the release of their second album, Bruised Fruit. In addition, the band released an EP through Classic Waxxx Records entitled Ill Form on Black Friday. The band's sound is reminiscent of the Goner Records scene and the Reigning Sound. Barker declares that the band is simply a "Texas garage punk band with honky-tonk and psychedelic influences." Since then they have continued to play shows and tour on the strength of their 2014 recorded output.