The first two weeks in 2019 have brought big news of albums by local Grammy winners Gary Clark Jr. and Patty Griffin. By contrast, 2018 was more a year of ascending talents in Austin music, as the results of our second annual Austin360 Awards attest.

As with last year’s inaugural awards, we asked dozens of locals with deep knowledge of Austin’s music community to submit nominations, and then cast votes on finalists, in a handful of categories: Artist, Album, Song, Breakout Act, DJ/Dance Party and Residency.

Here are the winners and finalists in each category:

ARTIST OF THE YEAR: JACKIE VENSON

Rising blues star Jackie Venson was so busy in 2018, notable events that happened early in the year seem like distant memories. In February, she was honored with a placement on Chris Rogers’ resurrected music mural at 12th and Chicon streets.

“I got painted on there right next to Selena, which is awesome because I love Selena,” she says.

But after a packed year that included four European tours, a month-long residency in New York City and her debut appearance at the Austin City Limits Music Festival, “that was so long ago, it seems like it happened two years ago,” she says with a laugh.

Venson made a commitment to herself and her fans to release one single a month in 2018. With one Christmas song and one small release to her private Facebook fan group, she racked up a total of 10 originals. The last one was released by boutique label Big Indie, which has offices in the U.K. and Austin.

The new music demonstrates an ongoing evolution in her songcraft that makes her one of the most captivating artists to come out of Austin in a long time. Eight of the singles (some with new studio versions) will make it onto her next album along with seven new unreleased tracks.

She’ll celebrate the album release with a gig at the Paramount, “the biggest show of my career,” on April 12. Then she’ll be back on the road for most of the year. She already has tours set up in Europe and on the East and West Coasts that will take her through the summer, with plans for the fall likely to firm up in the next few months. We predict she’ll land a few prominent festival slots and her stature in Austin and the world at large will continue to grow. — D.S.S.

FINALISTS

Molly Burch. After Burch moved to Austin from North Carolina a few years ago, the strong positive response to her debut “Please Be Mine” made her an upstart deserving of close attention. This year’s “First Flower” showed it was far from a fluke: Her music drew the attention of noted director/actress Noel Wells, who shot the video for the single “Candy.” Burch spent much of the fall touring Europe in support of the album, but she did make it home for ACL Fest. — P.B.

Shakey Graves. The gradual national rise of Austin native Alejandro Rose-Garcia continued with his third album from influential Nashville label Dualtone. “Can’t Wake Up” came out in May and reached the top 40 of Billboard’s Rock Albums Chart, plus top 20 in Alternative Albums and top 10 in Folk Albums. His tour schedule included selling out a headlining slot at Colorado’s iconic Red Rocks amphitheater in August and playing ACL Fest in October. — P.B.

The Teeta. Since 2016, the self-proclaimed “new age pretty boy trap” artist has been on a steady rise in the ATX hip-hop underground. In August, the Austin Chronicle crowned him a leader of the next generation of Austin rap, which led to a shout out in Pitchfork in the fall. His distinctive look makes him stand out in a crowd, but it’s his relentless release schedule that will drive his career forward. In addition to the full-length, “American Pop,” he dropped two EPs and a slew of singles in 2018. — D.S.S.

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Sabrina Ellis. Fronting both Sweet Spirit and A Giant Dog, two of Austin’s best and most accomplished indie bands of the decade, Ellis branched out with a joyously creative new side-project in 2018. Heart Bones teamed her with Minneapolis singer extraordinaire Sean Tillman (a.k.a. Har Mar Superstar) for three promising originals they released in the fall, but that turned out to be just a prelude for a tour in which they covered the “Dirty Dancing” soundtrack (with two December dates at Austin’s 3Ten). — P.B.

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BREAKOUT ARTIST OF THE YEAR: MÉLAT

The dreamy R&B singer has been steadily building buzz over the last few years, but in 2018 she pushed through to the next level, her sultry voice seducing us with hazy daydreams and worldly love songs on her lush new release “Move Me II: The Present.”

“That was the sequel to something I made back in 2014 with the same producer — Jansport J — and so that was really amazing being able to put that out,” she says.

She played numerous high profile gigs at the South by Southwest Music festival including an early morning KUTX show and the Grammy block party. Her success at the fest helped solidify her stature as an in-demand club act.

She only did limited touring in 2018, instead focusing on targeted one-off gigs away from home. One of the most meaningful shows for the native Austinite, whose parents fled violence in Ethiopia in the ‘80s, was a trip to Washington, D.C., to perform at the Kennedy Center as part of their World Refugee Day Concert.

Looking ahead, she expects to have a new EP out by midyear and she’s focused on “sharing this music with people outside of Austin, so I can show them what can be born and bred here,” she says. — D.S.S.

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FINALISTS

Molly Burch. An unusual twist in this year’s voting found Burch as a finalist for both Artist of the Year and Breakout of the Year. This may indicate, in part, that her audience grew in 2018: Those who discovered her from last year’s “Please Be Mine” may have considered her already established and worthy of AOY status, while many others may have come aboard with the new “First Flower.” Either way, it’s a clear sign that Burch is one of Austin’s fastest-rising musical talents. — P.B.

Quin NFN. Stacking up YouTube streams in the millions, the 17-year-old rapper with the hard-driving flow enters 2019 looking like the first Austin hip-hop artist to break nationally. His material is centered on standard street rap topics — drugs, girls, partying — but he comes with undeniable swagger and bad boy charisma that put him way ahead of the crowd. We expect to see his turnt-up rhymes electrifying festival crowds before the year is up. — D.S.S.

Jaimee Harris. The 28-year-old singer-songwriter’s big year was one of those “overnight” breakouts that was more than a decade in the works, dating back to her days as a Waco teen playing in a folk-rock duo with her dad. “Red Rescue,” her solo debut issued in September, was long overdue yet well worth the wait; she spent much of the fall touring the country, making a splash at Nashville’s AmericanaFest, before ending the year as a winner of a $20,000 Black Fret grant at the patronage group’s December ACL Live concert. — P.B.

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Superfónicos. Their 2018 release “Suelta” is an intoxicating blend of Colombian music, afrobeat, funk and Caribbean sounds, and after the EP dropped in October, the eight-piece powerhouse proceeded to move the booties and open the hearts of Austinites at ACL Fest. They closed out the year headlining the big Austin’s New Year bash at Auditorium Shores with a stellar performance that cemented their reputation as one of the best dance floor-wrecking party bands in town. — D.S.S.

ALBUM OF THE YEAR: SHAKEY GRAVES 'CAN’T WAKE UP'

It’s become increasingly hard to peg exactly who Shakey is as a musician and songwriter, but that’s sure not stopping his momentum. The artist who recorded “Can’t Wake Up” seems eons removed from the one-man-band performer who arose from the Hole in the Wall around a decade ago.

The album’s also distinctively different from Graves’ 2014 Dualtone debut “And the War Came” and the 2015 follow-up “Nobody’s Fool” (which earned him Emerging Artist of the Year honors at the Americana Music Awards). Writing about Graves when the album came out in May, the Statesman’s Deborah Sengupta Stith observed: “Sonically, it’s a departure for the Americana standout. The folksy sensibility and witty lyricism are still there, but the new songs emerge through a psychedelic haze. … He’s now making rich indie rock for a full ensemble.”

The national press concurred. Writing for NPR, Nina Corcoran noted that on “Can’t Wake Up,” Graves “gambles with the very formula that brought him fame. Armed with new instruments and a lifetime of dreams, he forgoes his boot-stomping, cheeky folk for a sound that fluctuates between finely tuned rock and full-band pop. Alejandro Rose-Garcia pulls it off in large part due to his storytelling prowess; these songs would be welcoming, even enthralling, in any style.” — P.B.

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FINALISTS

Mobley “Fresh Lies.” The pop savant, and spectacular one-man band, describes his 2018 release not as an album, but a song cycle. “It's a large collection of songs that are connected by a thematic and conceptual approach,” he wrote on his website in January before it came out. The collection, which includes some tracks previously released on the 2016 EP, “Some Other Country,” is centered on themes of nationhood and identity and alienation, ideas Mobley intends to continue exploring. The fact that it’s also a soaring set of arena-ready pop anthems is a testament to his formidable skills as a songwriter. — D.S.S.

Molly Burch “First Flower.” Following up her acclaimed 2017 debut “Please Be Mine,” the 27-year-old Burch recorded 11 original tunes with Erik Wofford at Austin studio Cacophony that expand the horizons of her gypsy-jazz-influenced indie pop. Accompanied by guitarist Dailey Toliver, she moved from the sweetly swaying opener “Candy” to the cinematic string accents on the urgent “Without You” to the mournful closing ballad “Every Little Thing.” — P.B.

Jaimee Harris “Red Rescue.” The long-awaited debut from this rising-star singer-songwriter lived up to expectations. From radiant melodic pop to exquisite acoustic balladry to deeply affecting atmospherics, Harris and producer Craig Ross created a record that will stand tall decades from now. — P.B.

Abhi the Nomad “Marbled.” “Tell me where’s the music we could feel to/ Where’s the groove we could love, hate, cry and then relate to?” the New Dehli native, who now lives in Austin, asks on “Mama Bling,” a poignant, mama-loving protest of materialism in hip-hop that opens this excellent collection. The album was released on Tommy Boy Records, the label that launched De La Soul, and it boasts rich jazzy production that old school hip-hop heads will appreciate. There’s a little soul searching here, a little philosophizing there, but mostly it’s a solid selection of funky party raps geared to the slightly nerdy hip-hop set. — D.S.S.

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SONG OF THE YEAR: BLACK PUMAS 'BLACK MOON RISING'

“I’m trying to do something that is going to move me so deeply that it doesn’t really matter what I’m thinking about externally,” Eric Burton told the Statesman in April. In his collaboration with top Austin guitarist and producer, Adrian Quesada, he wants to make music that is simple and honest. Songs straight from the heart. Songs with a lineage that can be traced back to the Motown era that maintain the urgency of the current moment.

“Black Moon Rising,” the resounding winner in this category, is a searing love song woven with celestial mystery. It’s a story of late-night passion, shrouded in black and spiked with an edge of danger. It’s the only single the duo released in 2018, but they have a full platter of psychedelic soul set for release midyear with a tour to follow. It’s already one of the most anticipated local album drops of the year. — D.S.S.

FINALISTS

Sweet Spirit “Touch.” Our 2017 Artist of the Year didn’t put out an album in 2018, but they issued a couple of singles that kept momentum building: “Los Lonely Girls” in the spring and then this innuendo-laden politically charged tune in the fall. With a video featuring women wearing masks of presidents and lyrics like “whip out your genius if you love it so much,” Sabrina Ellis and company echoed the lows of 2016 GOP campaign debates. Ellis says the song arose from ideas she’d written on sticky notes to accompany Andrew Cashen’s spooky riff. “They were dark,” she said of her lyrics. “These feel like dark days. But I wanted to play with this idea of a turning tide; of a woman glaring sardonically back over her shoulder.” — P.B.

Molly Burch “To the Boys.” One of the standout tracks on Burch’s sophomore album drew praise from Pitchfork, which observed: “On 'To the Boys,' she is both feminine and in charge. She doesn’t need to play-act machismo in order to be heard. She knows there is strength in her gentleness." The song’s official video creatively fused footage of Burch singing the tune into an animated background featuring pastoral farm scenes complete with toy animals. — P.B.

Abhi the Nomad “Sex and Drugs.” In this hip-hop cautionary tale, the classic markers of success, including the titular “Sex and Drugs,” are a source of both temptation and existential angst as our hero finds the world he once dreamed of inhabiting leaves him spiritually bankrupt. “I need my sex n’ drugs/ I need my money first/ Bless me with all my sins,” he sings plaintively on the hook to the catchy track with more than 6 million Spotify spins. — D.S.S.

Walker Lukens “Baby.” KUTX’s Rick McNulty commented on his ballot that “Walker Lukens struck gold with a most unconventional love song. It’s all bad advice: let’s make out in public, max out our credit cards, report them stolen, tell the boss she’s awful, and so on. As funny as it is, the song remains a sumptuous slice of yacht rock.”

DJ/DANCE PARTY: DJ MEL

“Everything that I’ve been wanting to do lately is to be involved with things that are way bigger than me,” veteran party rocker DJ Mel says.

In 2018, he had a strong showing at Bonnaroo and he launched a new series of early dance parties, geared toward an older crowd, filling “a void for a group of folks that are completely underserved,” but he’s most excited about the things that connect him with larger groups and causes.

He has a partnership with University of Texas athletics and spins at football and basketball games. “I’m not in a front-facing position at the football games. I’m DJing right next to the announcer,” he says. The football team had a winning season and it was a thrill to be involved.

He also began playing more charity events last year, beginning with an event for the Down Syndrome Association of Central Texas. “When I did it, just seeing how the kids were responding to it, I was just completely hooked,” he says.

He plans to do more philanthropic work in 2019, including a gig supporting local classical music radio station KMFA 89.5 FM at Springdale Station on Jan. 29. He’s a big fan of the station. “I love how they treat composers like rock stars,” he says. “It’s not this hip thing… just something that I believe in.”

And after a two-year hiatus following the end of his tenure as President Obama’s DJ in 2016, he plans to get back into playing political events. He’s been talking to folks at the Obama Foundation to see where he might fit in.

“Don’t get me wrong. Playing 'Rock the Casbah' or playing at a bar or whatever... having fun and everyone’s dancing, that’s’ great and I love it and I’ll always love it. I just think at this point ... lending my talents to these like causes is more in alignment with where I’m at now in my head,” he says. — D.S.S.

FINALISTS

DJ Kay Cali. Her “12 to Midnight” SoundCloud series is a treasure trove of soulful chill-out grooves and bedroom burners, but in the clubs she keeps the dance floor popping. The California native is a regular guest at the Body Rock parties and the DJ of choice for your favorite ladies of Austin soul. Fun fact: She’s a classically trained percussionist, so you know her beat matching is on point. — D.S.S.

Peligrosa. The mighty collective, which celebrated its 11th anniversary in December, boasts more than a dozen members, a record label and a vibrant monthly residency that serves as home base (and community safe space) for a wide variety of dance fanatics. Through the years, the group has remained faithful to the party’s original concept: to create eclectic Pan Latin mixes that combine vintage sounds with modern heat. Their adventurous innovation keeps the party fresh. — D.S.S.

Thank You For Sweating. The TYFS DJ crew hosts all-night dance parties in warehouses, creating spaces where everyone has the freedom to be themselves. “Whether you’re a drag queen, a student at UT or an engineer, you can dance like no one’s watching, until you’re sweating,” says Charles Moon, the group’s founder. — D.S.S.

DJ Jester the Filipino Fist. A veteran of Kid Koala’s turntable band, the artist also known as Mikey Pendon took part in the Vancouver DJ’s Vinyl Vaudeville show “Floor Kids” last year. The show was a wild extravaganza that included dancers, puppetry and music. On his own, he’s known as a mashup master who knows how to get the dancefloor hot. — D.S.S.

RESIDENCY OF THE YEAR: A GIANT DOG AT BEERLAND (FEBRUARY)

This category’s a little tricky, as a good case can be made that Austin’s most valuable residencies are the ones that run all year long. Inevitably, though, we sometimes take those permanent installments for granted, knowing they’re always there for us on any given week.

Our voting panel gravitated at least partly toward residencies that were temporary but packed with excitement. And really, it’s hard to beat the opportunity to see indie-punk band A Giant Dog in the gloriously tight and sweaty dive that is Beerland, one of the Red River Cultural District’s long-term survivors.

For four straight Thursdays, the band rocked the room, bringing local openers aboard for the ride including Lola Tried, Flesh Lights, Trouble Boys and Missing Pages. Here’s hoping they do it all over again sometime soon.

As for the continuously recurring gigs: Don’t feel bad if you only go every few months. Even if you miss 48 weeks of a show, that would mean you still saw four, the sum total of A Giant Dog’s monthlong Beerland stint. And most any band would express their gratitude to fans who went to see them four times in one year. — P.B.

FINALISTS

Black Pumas at C-Boy's (February-April). Adrian Quesada didn’t alert the press or blast his flier on social media when he debuted his new project at C-Boy's in February. Though Quesada and singer Eric Burton had been writing together for a year, they only had two weeks of rehearsals with the full band before the first gig and Quesada felt shaky. He told his wife not to come. She ignored him. So did a horde of his musician friends. Halfway through the gig, “I remember looking around and thinking like, ’Oh damn they’re into it,'” Quesada said in April. Overnight, word spread about the new rock ’n’ soul crew’s Thursday night shakedown, equal parts boozy weekend kickoff bash and revival meeting. By the end of the run, the club was at capacity with 50 to 100 people lining up before the doors opened, eagerly waiting to catch the hottest new band in town. — D.S.S.

The Nu Wave with Joaqu.n at the Eastern. "The sound of our events is very eclectic. We play hip hop, dance music, soul, future beats, forgotten gems, and world music." says Venezuelan DJ Joaqu.n, founder of the Nu Wave collective. "The vibe is all about the music. It’s always a very diverse and welcoming crowd." After over a year keeping Saturday nights live at the Eastern, the Nu Wave crew closed out the residency in early January. But the party's not over. "We're not going anywhere though," he posted in a message to his Instagram account. "It's time to reinvent the Nu Wave and make it a bigger, better experience." His next party is scheduled for Jan. 18 at a secret warehouse. Drop by instagram.com/joaqu.n .for more details. — D.S.S.

Body Rock at Empire. With their monthly dance happening, Chaka and Qi Dada, from the husband/wife hip-hop crew Riders Against the Storm, take a Dionysian approach to the concept of partying. Indulge in libations, move your body to the rhythms, get hype to DJ Chorizo Funk’s flawless mix of hot new hip-hop and choice throwback cuts, but the end goal is spiritual release. When you enter the temple of “Booty Sweat,” prepare to get lifted. After a long run at Empire, the First Friday throwdown returns to its old home at the Sahara Lounge in February. — D.S.S.

Bonnie Whitmore at the Continental Gallery. Whitmore’s late-2018 “Tragic Mondays” run at Stay Gold actually tied with this one in our list of finalists, but we’re giving the nod to her year-round gig at this intimate room above the Continental Club, home to many of Austin’s best residencies. Whitmore’s 10:30 p.m. slot is a great place to hear one of the city’s hidden-gem songwriters, along with the likelihood of cool special guests. (December found fast-rising Oklahoman John Moreland sitting in.) — P.B.