While we're sure that some people feel that Aftermath engages in a bit of hagiography regarding the music of our fair city, we find it mildly difficult not to regularly and frequently express our love for the many excellent artists who call Houston home. We might lament how our scene is underappreciated residentially and nationally, and how too many bands around town stagnate before they ever really get going, but we do enjoy going to see good shows on a regular basis. The best part about going to see so many locals acts ply their trade is that we often learn about bands that we've never heard of (or at least haven't heard play yet). Friday night was another outstanding example of this over at Walter's On Washington. Not only did we help the three men in The Gold Sounds celebrate the release of their new record, but also we finally heard The Small Sounds for the first time, and then were exposed to the great music of T. V. Torso. What started out as two fractured shows being mashed together for the sake of scheduling convenience ended up with four acts with clearly distinct sounds melding into a cohesive event. The Small Sounds started off the night with a fresh take on classic alt-country and Americana. The instrumentation implemented by this sextet filled up the stage: four guitars, banjo, pedal steel, Korg CX3, Nord Electro (hidden within an vintage Farfisa case), bass, drums and three tambourines. But to our ears, we were most impressed with the great lead vocals and shimmering three-part harmonies that called to mind the Fleet Foxes and Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young. Towards the end of the band's crisp, clean 10-song country-rock set, we were convinced that these guys should be out playing more old-school country dancehalls around Texas.
Up next was T.V. Torso out of Austin, and we were instantly wowed by this trio's take on second-wave indie rock. Mixing together large chunks of Pavement, early Spoon, and Pinkerton-era Weezer, this group's friendly, kinda nerdy garage-pop made us smile. The songs were loud, but never overpowering, and were collectively short, sweet, and catchy with nary a hint of fey indie-pop. As soon as the guys left the stage, we promptly and proudly purchased both of the 7" records the band was selling.
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Paris Falls took the stage next with its brand of nifty, swinging indie-pop. Glam-ish guitar riffs and drum rhythms set atop a bed of piano chords, but we feel that the sound could definitely be filled out and given a deeper growl with the presence of a strong bass player. At times, we were slightly confused by the inclusion of some garage-blues lines, as well as the threesome's strange serious-meets-sarcastic-meets-cute vibe. Nevertheless, the band was full of energy, which gave the shiny tunes a bit of grit, which was really needed when the back half of the crowd became obnoxious with its loud conversations.
Hitting the stage a bit after midnight, The Gold Sounds brought the night to a strong close, as friends, family, and fans gathered to hear an entire show dedicated to the band's new record, entitled Seismic Love. Hailing from Deer Park, this garage rock power trio probably doesn't get enough attention in the Houston-proper music scene, but this show should start the process of setting the record straight. With a sound that calls to mind a glammed-out Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, complete with pounding drums, chunky guitar parts, and stellar neo-classic rock vocals, the band managed to channel some very "in" proto-punk/blues attitude without being a tired cliché. After The Gold Sounds whipped through 13 songs of strong, loud, old-school rock that's easy to get into and that whips you into a frenzy quite quickly, the night was over much sooner than we thought it should be. But maybe that is how it should be with a good show - we knocked back a few drinks with friends, we sang along to the songs at the top of our lungs, and it all left us desirous of more. It's the reason we traverse Houston week after week: we want to see great music, and we know that, if we look hard enough and know where to look, we're going to find it.