Hot issue: Five local acts to keep an eye (and an ear) on

Posted 8:57am on Thursday, Aug. 29, 2013

Hear that?

It’s the sizzling sound of North Texas bands and musicians, nearly all of whom are making music at a furious pace, releasing singles, EPs and albums almost as fast as they can finish them. All year long, for the first time in a long time, there’s been no drought, no period where artists in Fort Worth, Dallas or Denton take their foot off the gas and ease up. It’s been wall-to-wall local music, in clubs and on our iPods, from the get-go.

Picking five relatively new acts to keep an eye (and an ear) on can prove tricky, but here are some of DFW’s most promising talents (some of whom have already struck out for stardom beyond the state’s borders).

Panic Volcanic

One spin of Panic Volcanic’s freshman full-length album, Freak Fuzz, and you’ll be hooked. Ansley Dougherty’s show-stopping vocals are the bait, but the hook is set by the rich, textured sounds conjured by her bandmates Chris Cole and Zach Tucker. The Fort Worth trio is hitting the fall festival circuit hard, with appearances at the Fort Worth Rock Assembly on Sept. 8, the Clearfork Music Festival on Sept. 21 and Arts Goggle on Oct. 6. Dougherty says the band is even “in pre-production of our sophomore album.” To tide you over until the next LP arrives, catch these rockers in full glory on the Near Southside, at Shipping & Receiving’s grand opening Sunday.


Howler Jr.

It’s been several weeks since I first heard Howler Jr.’s self-titled debut, but the songs remain firmly lodged in my head. Led by Spencer Kenney, this Dallas-based trio pumps out pop-rock, produced by Salim Nourallah, that feels like a day at the beach. It’s irresistible stuff, and some of the best local music I’ve heard in 2013. The threesome’s next show isn’t for a while — Nov. 30 at City Tavern with Un Chien and Brave Young Lion — but Kenney says Howler Jr. is already at work on “a new release,” but declined to provide more details on the new music, saying “we'll probably announce something about that closer to the winter months.” Ah, a band for all seasons.



Fort Worth’s hip-hop scene has blossomed in the last five years, something those who consider the city a bastion of hat acts and psych-rockers might find astonishing. Much of the genre’s resurgence can be credited to, of all places, Texas Christian University, which a number of Cowtown’s hip-hop movers and shakers attended (or are attending). Midway, comprised of two Horned Frogs by the name of Lou Charles and Kev Nolan, just released its debut mixtape, FunEmployment: Volume 1, which contrasts the freewheeling hedonism of college life with the cold, hard realities of existence outside the dorms. It’s stylish, cerebral stuff and another evolution of Fort Worth’s riveting rap offerings. They will perform Sept. 21 at the Clearfork Music Festival.


Rania Khoury

You won’t forget the first time you hear singer-songwriter Rania Khoury’s voice. It’s a marvelous, melodious thing — soaring and stretchy and filled with peculiarities that make you sit up and take notice — and it’s the engine fueling the Arlington native’s assured debut album, Stone Wolf. It was produced over an 18-month period, and features killer songs like Sweet Apple Pies. She’s keeping busy promoting the record with area performances: Khoury will take the stage Sept. 6 at Bryan Street Tavern and Sept. 12 in Klyde Warren Park in Dallas.


Cale Tyson

Longing for the glory days of Nashville? Then cue up Fort Worth-raised troubadour Cale Tyson’s debut EP High on Lonesome — you’ll be hit with flashbacks of Music City’s golden era, when tears in your beer were par for the course and nothing soothed a broken heart like a healthy dose of pedal steel. Heavyweights like American Songwriter and CMT Edge have already taken notice, and Tyson will be touring throughout the fall (nothing’s set for DFW just yet). He’s also hard at work on a follow-up EP, which will feature another very promising Texan’s contributions — Houston singer-songwriter Robert Ellis.


Preston Jones, 817-390-7713 Twitter: @prestonjones

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