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2008 in Plastic: Seven inches at a time...

Two thousand seven was a banner year for the album in Houston indie rock; with recession looming in 2008, local bands adjusted their ambitions, rediscovering the pithy charms of the 7" — or, as R.E.M.'s Peter Buck once put it, the "piece of crap usually purchased by teenagers." Local labels Dull Knife and Cutthroat were major players. Dull Knife had two unique releases, with Hearts of Animals' glassy, dreamy "Stars Say No" single and the Wiggins' typically abrasive "Feed the Ghost." Cutthroat did the Drunks' "Speed Metal Blues" and Born Liars' "Go Back One Day" and collaborated on several others.

Those Liars' other single, the soulful but epistemologically conflicted "Don't Tell Me I Know"/ "I Don't Know Why," was an artistic step forward for their retro garage, and the inaugural release for Ditchwater Records. More solid garage was available from the Welfare Mothers' debut release, as well as Something Fierce's troubled Modern Girl EP. The latter was available as a download in May, but due to label problems didn't see vinyl until December. Meanwhile, gentle duo Papermoons pulled a beautiful single, "Honesty," from their full-length CD.

The year's clear leader was hardcore guitarist Beau Beasley, who wrapped his popular grindcore project Insect Warfare with a six-song blast — released as one side of a split with the improbably named Flagitious Idiosyncrasy In the Dilapidation — before moving on to his new "leatherpunk" trio No Talk. They dropped three platters of tight, butch, guttural punk ("Police Mafia," "Invade Iran" and "Tighten the Noose") before the summer was out, each more cynical, disturbing and immediately out of print than the last. Under the name ArseGestapo1982, Beasley also put out the Secret Prostitutes, an unusual Wire-like punk band with lyrics in Indonesian, and Black Leather Jesus' Diseased Translation EP, a white-noise assault with iconically obscene cover art.

 
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