10 Texas Bands That Don't Get Enough Credit

Baboon rocks out at Dallas' Trees in 2011
Baboon rocks out at Dallas' Trees in 2011
Photo by Mike Brooks/Dallas Observer

BABOON Baboon has a rare gift for squeezing the dense guitars and brawny drums more often heard on post-hardcore records into bittersweet pop-rock tunes. Some of Weezer's better albums mine the same territory, but for our money this Denton-based crew had better songs, especially on 2002 personal favorite Something Good Is Going to Happen to You Today. Once badly burned by the same label that unleashed Creed on the world, Baboon have largely curtailed their recording and touring activities, although they still play out in the Metroplex from time to time.

10 Texas Bands That Don't Get Enough Credit
Photo courtesy of SausTex Media

CHURCHWOOD A project of former LeRoi Brother Joe Doerr and Austin guitarslinger Bill Anderson (Meat Purveyors), Churchwood has released three critically acclaimed albums since 2011. Doerr has a Ph.D. in English and an MFA in creative writing and is an internationally respected poet. The songs he has written for Churchwood have drawn comparisons to Captain Beefheart. The band's tune "Rimbaud Diddley" was included in an episode of AMC's Sons of Anarchy.

Hickoids: cowpunk with a Texas twist.
Hickoids: cowpunk with a Texas twist.
Photo by Larry Stern/Courtesy of SausTex Media

HICKOIDS In their first incarnation from 1984-1991, the Hickoids defined cowpunk with a Texas twist. They took the Sex Pistols' screw-you attitude to Texas-sized lengths, welding metal riffs onto country goofs like the Green Acres theme that thrilled punks and freaks and brought frowns and occasional violence from straights.

They reformed a decade ago and have lost none of their fire or flair in spite of being eligible for Medicare. Their 2011 album of British covers, Kickin' It With the Twits, was special even by the twisted gonzo hillbilly standards of Jeff Smith and Davy Jones. The Hickoids still perform frequently, although Jones has recently undergone treatment for cancer.

The Krayola's at a 2009 Cactus Music in-store
The Krayola's at a 2009 Cactus Music in-store
Photo by Chris Gray

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THE KRAYOLAS If the members of Krayolas weren't all highly educated men with serious day jobs, the band would undoubtedly be much bigger than it is today. Formed in 1975 by brothers Hector and Donald Saldana, the San Antonio band became known as the "Tex-Mex Beatles" for their rocking, upbeat pop tunes.

While they were a popular dance and party band throughout the Southwest, the band never got enough national traction to reach the next level, and in 1988 gave up the dream. In 2007 they put together Best Riffs Only, a compilation of their earlier singles, and the good reception inspired the Krayolas to reform. They have since released three new albums, and still perform intermittently.

10 Texas Bands That Don't Get Enough Credit

LEROI BROS. Originally a side project for Fabulous Thunderbirds drummer Mike Buck, the LeRoi Brothers eventually became an Austin institution. Buck, bassist Alex Napier, and guitarists Don Leady and Steve Doerr took Austin by storm circa 1981 with a mix of rockabilly, blues and rock and roll salted with just a touch of hillbilly-hepcat punk attitude. Doerr's brother Joe eventually added even more firepower as a vocalist and writer.

Despite a half-dozen critically acclaimed albums and thousands of gigs, the LeRois never achieved the fame of the Thunderbirds, Joe Ely or Stevie Ray Vaughan, but their single "Pretty Little Lights of Town" is a well-known Austin classic. At various times during their 30-plus-year career, the LeRois' lineup read like a Who's Who of Austin's top players, and the band was inducted into the Austin Music Hall of Fame this year.

10 Texas Bands That Don't Get Enough Credit

MACON GREYSON Ray Wylie Hubbard wanted to begin producing records, so his longtime cohort Buffalo Terry Ware put Hubbard together with budding Dallas songwriter Buddy Huffman. Huffman didn't have a name for his project, and Hubbard suggested Macon Greyson, something he just made up. Beginning to gig heavily in the DFW/Denton markets, the band was initially lumped into the "Texas music" market, although their rock-leaning sensibility was morein line with the likes of Wilco.

Starting with 2000's Hubbard-produced Miles From Here, Macon Greyson showed a penchant for whip-smart, socially conscious songwriting and big guitar crunch. By the time of 2006's Translate, Macon Greyson had become a touring powerhouse that took no prisoners; two years later, their song "Black Light" was included in Mickey Rourke's movie The Wrestler. The band broke up suddenly in 2009 when Huffman returned to work full-time as a cancer researcher.

Story continues on the next page.

 

Moonlight Towers debuted with 2002's eponymous LP that featured "Don't Wait Up" and "Back to the Pines."
Moonlight Towers debuted with 2002's eponymous LP that featured "Don't Wait Up" and "Back to the Pines."
Photo by Cory Llewellyn & Cameron Russell/TransistorSix.com

MOONLIGHT TOWERS Moonlight Towers dares to float the proposition that rock and roll can still be noble. The Austin four-piece comes by it honestly; there's a quite a bit of the Byrds and R.E.M. in the hypermelodic guitar jangle they've been honing for more than a decade, as well as Big Star, the Velvet Underground and a handful of other bands whose popular success has mostly come posthumously. Towers hasn't quite gone down that road yet, however.

Already well-known and much respected in their hometown, the band is currently making a push for their terrific new album, Heartbeat Overdrive. Last time out Little Steven's Underground Garage named 2011's "Heat Lightning" to the program's esteemed "Coolest Song In the World" list, and new single "Out of the Grey" deserves to make it two for two. Towers will be going back out on tour next month, so consider this a challenge to Walters, Rudyard's or the Continental to book them as soon as humanly possible.

10 Texas Bands That Don't Get Enough Credit

SCRATCH ACID Scratch Acid were frequently vile, and if your mental hangups include a predilection for particularly scabrous post-punk, not many bands can touch them even today. The mid-'80s band's discography amounted to just two albums and one EP of pure psychic torment, before being conveniently repackaged in 1991 as The Greatest Gift. Scratch Acid's footprint weighed especially heavy on the cadre of largely Austin-based Trance Syndicate bands (which also included Houston's Pain Teens) in the early and mid-'90s, while David Yow and David Wm. Sims' took their subsequent group to a new level of opprobrium altogether with the Jesus Lizard.

Slobberbone at Houston's Continental Club in 2011
Slobberbone at Houston's Continental Club in 2011
Photo by Jason Wolter

SLOBBERBONE Among first-wave alt-country bands, Slobberbone deserves to be counted alongside Whiskeytown, the Old 97's and Bottle Rockets, one rung below granddaddy of 'em all Uncle Tupelo. Brent Best's Denton bunch mixed up irony, tragedy and boozy, haymaking riffs much like the Replacements had, explaining why Slobberbone would sometimes break out a Mats cover like "Can't Hardly Wait." After starting the 21st century off with the Stonesy masterpiece Everything You Thought Was Right Was Wrong Today, activity plunged sharply after 2002's Slippage.

Best started another band, the Drams, and guitarist Jess Barr became a partner at the Twilite Room, which our DFW sister blog DC9 at Night named the best bar in Dallas last year. In September, bassist Brian Lane announced that Barr was leaving the group to run the Twilite full-time, but that Slobberbone would soldier on.

10 Texas Bands That Don't Get Enough Credit

TRUE BELIEVERS Perhaps no band encompasses the Austin zeitgeist and dream like the mercurical "Troobs." Formed in Austin by Alejandro and Javier Escovedo, with additional guitarist Jon Dee Graham, the band was frequently dubbed a "guitar army." Although they took Austin by storm in 1982 and their shows were discussed in legendary terms, they could never convince major label to take a chance on them, and eventually released True Believers on Rounder in 1986. {Note: this paragraph has been edited after publication.]

The album only cost $10,000, but it brought big dog EMI to the table with a big recording budget. However, EMI insisted on a new rhythm section for the album and bassist Denny Digorio and drummer Kevin Foley left the band. Making matters worse, EMI refused to release the second album and cut the band loose, at which point they disbanded almost immediately. The band reformed in 2013 for some shows, including ACL Fest, and the release of a new EP.

Written by Chris Gray and William Michael Smith

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