Based not out of Dallas as you might expect, but Nashville, Tennesse, Dallas Ugly are a trio of college friends turned bandmates, Libby Weitnauer, Eli Broxham, and Owen Burton. With a sound described as, “genre dissolving” the band take the pallet of country music from pedal steel to fiddle and filter it through an array of influences from indie-rock to hip-hop and everything in between. The band’s growing reputation was cemented earlier this month with the release of their debut album, Watch Me Learn.
At the heart of Dallas Ugly’s appeal throughout Watch Me Learn are the beautifully entwined vocals, whichever member is taking the lead the others seem to fall in behind adding a depth and togetherness that’s a true calling card. At times they dial up the country-licks, as on the beautiful Courtney Andrews-like Part Of A Time, at others they step away and experiment, like the double-bass-led Gold, which has a 1970s pop-flourish Van Dyke Parks or Carole King would be proud of. Particularly wonderful is the title track, Watch Me Learn, a beautifully shuffling American-folk song about learning from your mistakes, even if you’re in the habit of repeating them time and time again, as Libby sings, “I’ve been busy all the time so I guess this feels fine, when the dust settles I know it’ll burn, watch me learn”. For all the genres and styles that run through the veins of Watch Me Learn, more than a story of style Dallas Ugly’s music is a story of friendship and growing up, of the events that made them the people are they are, the communities that will continue to shape the people they become – and there’s nothing ugly about that, in fact, it’s rather beautiful.
FTR: For those who don’t know who are Dallas Ugly?
We are three friends who met in college. We started this band after several years apart and at the start of the pandemic when we found ourselves living together in Nashville. Our music relies on the friendship we’ve built over the last decade because we often make a thousand comically bad and questionable musical decisions before we find one that actually sounds good (well, that WE think sounds good), so there’s a lot of humor in our process. I think the result is something equally playful and earnest.
FTR: What can you remember about your first show?
Our first “shows” together were before we were ever Dallas Ugly when we would play for free sandwiches at a coffee shop near our school in Chicago called the Bourgeois Pig. We would really just play for ourselves but probably annoyed many a studying college student when we played there.
FTR: Why do you make music? Why not another art form?
Hm… I guess I can’t speak completely for the band, but I think we make music together because we all share a love of crafting a song. There’s something about the experience of listening to a song, or an album, where you can hear and feel each little decision that was made from beginning to end that’s so magical. Even choices that are subconscious are still choices, and there’s so much intention in music that you can either zero in on or choose to ignore and just enjoy the big picture.
FTR: What can people expect from the Dallas Ugly live show?
Regardless of whether or not we’ve got our drummer with us, people can expect an intimate experience. I’m biased, but I think our songs have a lot of beauty in them. We prioritize groove and beauty over something like showmanship, for example. I really hate watching/listening to performances where it feels like the musicians are just flexing the whole time – like they aren’t there to share anything except for what they’re capable of. I feel like we prioritize sharing an experience, if that makes sense.
FTR: What’s next for Dallas Ugly?
Touring! We’re just really excited to play shows for people after the last year and a half of only making music for ourselves/recording. We have a lot of new songs that we do look forward to recording, but I think we’re most excited about getting out there and putting on a show.
They Listen To…
Altameta – Wheel Of Love
The Margos – Angie
Big Thief – Certainty
The Kernal – U Do U
Allison de Groot & Tatiana Hargreaves – Wellington
Nico – The Fairest of the Seasons