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A sound gesture... It wasn't the most poignant way to go out. Josh Lloyd, a longtime bouncer and ever-present personality at Emo's, had been depressed for months, and try as they did, none of his friends seemed able to remedy his sadness. Finally, Lloyd, an aspiring artist and sometime musician, must have felt his options were exhausted. Last November 7, he ended his life, shooting himself in the head while his girlfriend was in the next room.

"Josh was nuts," says Mike Marquez, a bartender at Emo's and a close pal of Lloyd's. "He was the sort of guy who, when you met him for the first time, you either loved him or you hated him."

Those who loved Lloyd haven't been quick to bury his memory. A makeshift shrine -- Lloyd's guitar surrounded by personal notes and snapshots -- hangs on one wall at Emo's. And most recently, the compilation CD Texas Style was assembled in Lloyd's name. It's just been released on the local Dirty Dog label.

In happier times, say friends, Lloyd was a joker with a seemingly bottomless bag of pranks at his disposal. "Once he was peeing at this urinal and he asked the guy next to him if he could pee on his leg," Marquez recalls. "The guy said yes, so he did, and the guy punched him."

So it seems appropriate that Texas Style would include a slew of obnoxious moments from some of the state's gnarliest punk and heavy alternative bands. In that respect, this collection delivers the skanky goods -- 25 tracks, all loud, all proud and most nasty. Rather than confining itself to one city, the CD features a Texaswide selection of bands, and one act from the Northwest. Represented here from Houston are in-your-face pillars of bad taste Poor Dumb Bastards, Shovel 13, Flamin' Hellcats and Peterbuilt; Dallas supplies Mess, Pump'n Ethel and X's For Eyes. It's interesting to note that the only non-Texans on the compilation, Shark Chum from Seattle, hand over the beefiest song of the bunch in "Speed King." (Two words: better production.)

Overall, the music on Texas Style is nowhere near great, but at least half of it is interesting -- and the CD's high-speed pacing is a mosher's delight. The carnage is heartfelt. Peterbuilt's redneck-on-wheels anti-anthem "Doublewide" and the Hellcats's more-vato-than-billy workout "Straight to Hell Baby" are blunt and offensive in the best way -- keyed up, ungainly and excessively freaky.

There's enough pot smoking, liquor guzzling and weapon wielding going on in these tracks to make even the most jaded parent uneasy, though most of the debauchery seems to be of the all-in-fun variety. Still, lighthearted or not, you have to wonder if the sort of fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants lifestyle glorified in many of these songs had anything to do with Lloyd's undoing. But it's a little late for lectures, and I'm sure Texas Style is a compilation Lloyd would be happy to have blaring in his ears, wherever he is.

More good deeds... To benefit the AIDS Foundation Houston, KRBE has hurried together Private Sessions, a new CD featuring music from its unplugged series of the same name. The disc features (almost) acoustic performances by well-known "adult alternative" acts who were willing to brave the scrutiny of an intimate studio setting at the Art Institute of Houston. The small audiences were made up of KRBE listeners who had been lucky enough to win tickets on the air.

Private Sessions begins on a high note with a trio of tunes by Sarah McLachlan, and drifts modestly downhill from there. Merril Bainbridge's "Mouth" is perky and well executed, but slight; the two efforts from ex-Bangle Susanna Hoffs are strained and somewhat out of tune (ditto for the Lisa Loeb tracks); and Dishwalla's slightly mellower version of their ubiquitous hit "Counting Blue Cars" is hardly a revelation (nice organ, though). As a songwriter, McLachlan -- whose warm, funny December performance I had the chance to attend -- is a notch above the company she keeps here, and her haunting piano interpretation of "Possession" dwarfs everything else that follows. So it doesn't help that it's Private Sessions's opening cut.

Etc.... Further proof that goodwill is contagious: Sunday, the Urban Art Bar is hosting a benefit show for its soundman, Billy Lovelace, who was shot in the elbow as he was walking home from Emo's December 4. So far, Aftershock, Carolyn Wonderland, Podunk, Under the Sun and Rosebud are confirmed, and the bill could get larger. No suspects have been found in the shooting, and Lovelace has no explanation for it -- though he suspects it was stray gunfire. Lovelace isn't insured, so the money raised from the performance will go toward his medical bills. Also Sunday, McGonigel's Mucky Duck is holding its own benefit for an injured comrade, actor Jim Keany, who needs funds for a liver transplant. Slated to donate their time are PC Cowboys, Jack Saunders and Kelly Clark.

-- Hobart Rowland

 
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