"Whiskey Deuce," News on the March: Oh, snap. Bet you thought we'd pick "Moving Pictures." Nope, that's a good one, but there is something a little more memorable track 2 off the country-fied/barber shop quintet's first official EP, Glory Be! "Whiskey Deuce" has pitch-perfect harmonies, two-step-ready drums and guitars and talks about Wisconsin -- where this Rocks Off writer spent a better part of her summers growing up. If there was ever a place to forget your sour sweetie, it's the Dairyland bluffs.
"Alien," Something Fierce: It only took nearly three years, but we finally got a new set of tunes from SF in the form of full length There Are No Answers. Well done. We dig the added harmonization where vocals seem to come from ten different people in ten different directions. We never knew punk rock could be so chapel-ready.
"Own Me," Balaclavas: Inferno, the LP from which this tribal, post-punk ditty was spawned, is a top contender for best local album of the year. "Own Me" channels all the anger - real or portrayed - from this trio and sets it to rumbling guitars, drums and bass. Vocalist Tyler Morris howls the titular chorus, wailing at listeners as if he's trapped inside their speakers. It's mesmerizing and will lull you into a meditative stare until the end.
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"Fear the CIA," No Talk: Did you know No Talk's Beau Beasley has a tattoo on his shoulder of a bear in a leatherman outfit encircled with a whip? Surprising that you didn't, considering how much that dude loves to take his shirt off.
"Go Back One Day," Born Liars: The Born Liars released its 2008 7" and continued a tradition of rowdy, Replacements-esque, garage rock that will have fans dancin' as wildly in their bedroom as they do in front of the stage. Bonus: Houston gets a lyrical nod.
"Montrose Blvd. Blues," Craig Kinsey: Any self-proclaimed lover of all things H-town who didn't name this as a 2008 favorite should be ashamed. Kinsey, who you might know as Sideshow Tramps' "The Reverand," worked up this harmonica-tinged, folk homage to the 'Trose. All the sites are mentioned: St. Thomas, thrift-shop row, Dietrich's, "Chinese meditatin.'" Rocks Off spent many a summer day bikin' through the heart of Houston with this tune pumping through the ol' iPod. (Thanks to all the cars that dodged us). - Dusti Rhodes