The 30 Best North Texas Albums of 2013: Part One

Categories: Best Of

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. Earlier this week, we announced your ten favorite North Texas albums of 2013 (you can still vote for a winner). Now, here are ours. Or part of them, anyway -- the first ten, in no particular order.

Bukkake Moms -- Michael Briggs
"Atrium of Hernias," the opening track from the album Michael Briggs, seven songs tightly crammed like fine grinds of espresso being packed by a tamper into 17 minutes of compact cacophony, is a noisy and sludgey shot that will weed out any casual listeners. Big Cum, the band's release from August this year, was no doubt a enjoyable, tumultuous recording. But the Micahel Briggs EP is undoubtedly their best recorded material of the year. Underneath the Moms' NSFW lyrics and somewhat playful demeanor, you can see there is a certain attention to detail in their song-writing as evident in their complex rhythm swapping. It doesn't take a lot to appreciate such a fine mastery of noise production this band so casually wields. Aaron Ortega

Cutter -- EP
The newest EP by electronic duo Cutter gave listeners a boiled-down four track teaser of any of their energetic live shows during 2013. "Curse," the opener, is decidedly the best track, and it is an unnerving dance beat breath of fresh air during a time when some electronic and synth-heavy practitioners lean more towards the pop end of the spectrum. AO

Kylie Rae Harris - Taking it Back
The world of Texas Country/Red Dirt still suffers from a lack of creative estrogen. Such a low level of femininity isn't the result of Kylie Rae Harris not being around and stunning folks with her tunes, though. Harris has been gigging on her own and singing harmony for Zane Williams for years now. Thankfully, in 2013, she finally got around to releasing her EP, Taking it Back, the follow-up to her 2010 debut, All the Right Reasons. The tender breeziness of her folk-feeling collection was certainly worth the wait, even if it makes us hope 2014 brings out more new songs from her. Kelly Dearmore

Home By Hovercraft - Are We Chameleons?
While art-rock as a category covers a lot of territory, there are bands, such as local chamber-pop outfit Home by Hovercraft, which take the label more literally. With a roster of fine art veterans boasting a whimsically varied musical approach and a keen, perfectly-timed sense of drama, it's not unfair to call this Seth and Shawn Magill-led group a Theater-Rock collective. Is there such a thing? Well, if there wasn't before, there is now. KD

New Science Projects -- Hard On
For the enigmatic Dale Jones, leader of New Science Projects, 2013 could only be considered an unqualified success. Not only was the band nominated for its first ever Dallas Observer Music Award, the instrumentally challenged outfit released Hard On, one of the best local albums of the year. Here's hoping New Science Projects will venture outside of Denton and even North Texas to bring their bizarre shows to new audiences. Darryl Smyers

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My New Year's wish is that one day the Dallas Observer will realize there is more to music than alt-rock, alt-country and rap.  Like the fact that DFW is home to some of the greatest jazz musicians on the planet.  In July, our indie label, Eclectus Records, released "Necessary Evil," the second album by Laura Ainsworth (, who was recently honored as a nominee for best female indie vocalist in America by the Artists Music Guild awards.  It's produced, arranged and features keyboards by Brian Piper,  Sammons Center for the Arts' 2011 Dallas Jazz Musician of the Year.  Supporting artists include some of the best players in North Texas, including a 13-piece big band horn section.

The album received rave reviews from such top NYC media outlets as Jazz Inside magazine, Cadence magazine and Cabaret Scenes.  One reviewer from Scotland compared it to the classic Capitol and Verve albums of the '50s.  It enjoyed worldwide airplay, made the Jazz Week radio charts, and the cut "Out of This World" was included on an international best-selling jazz compilation series.  Laura was even interviewed by one of the top radio hosts in India, who implored her to come tour the subcontinent. 

And what did the Dallas Observer have to say about the album?  Nothing.  You never reviewed it at all.  Just like the Dallas Morning News and D magazine, even though I know our promo guy sent all three press kits and review copies.   

Way to support local artists, Dallas media! (BTW, this doesn't apply to the Dallas Voice or to Preston Jones at, both of whom gave it rave reviews.  Now I know where to turn if I want a complete survey of Dallas music.) 


Well, we released Curl & Curvature, and you, as per usual, missed out. Congrats!

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