Like the city it came from, Jug o' Lightnin' is zoning-free. You can't peg its blues-rock-bluegrass-country sound with a few pithy words -- it has shades of all but is none of the above. What it is is moss-draped, gutbucket, raw and in-the-pocket. When Aaron Loesch, Chris King and "Mopar" Mike Sinclair are rolling through one of their bayou-style trash-can symphonies, they create a vacuumlike suction that draws you inexorably to the heart of the groove. Roots bands with unique aesthetics are about as hard to find as it is to catch lightning in a bottle, and as their name states, Jug o' Lightnin' has pulled it off. Thank God for this rare instance of 100 percent unmitigated truth in advertising.

Like the city it came from, Jug o' Lightnin' is zoning-free. You can't peg its blues-rock-bluegrass-country sound with a few pithy words -- it has shades of all but is none of the above. What it is is moss-draped, gutbucket, raw and in-the-pocket. When Aaron Loesch, Chris King and "Mopar" Mike Sinclair are rolling through one of their bayou-style trash-can symphonies, they create a vacuumlike suction that draws you inexorably to the heart of the groove. Roots bands with unique aesthetics are about as hard to find as it is to catch lightning in a bottle, and as their name states, Jug o' Lightnin' has pulled it off. Thank God for this rare instance of 100 percent unmitigated truth in advertising.

Ambient modern popster Arthur Yoria has a special gift: a Buckleyish high tenor coupled with the ability to craft smart arrangements and melodies that are impossible to banish. What's more, he wraps that gift in some exceptionally pretty paper -- his band is one of the best in town. Matt Rhodes's pedal steel and the crack rhythm section of bass-man Dwayne Casey and drummer Ilya Kolozs are far more than mere window dressing. So far, Yoria and company have released a total of nine tunes on two EPs, and there's not a lump of coal among them. It's just a shame that Santa Claus -- in the form of a major label -- hasn't spread Yoria's gifts around a little farther.
Ambient modern popster Arthur Yoria has a special gift: a Buckleyish high tenor coupled with the ability to craft smart arrangements and melodies that are impossible to banish. What's more, he wraps that gift in some exceptionally pretty paper -- his band is one of the best in town. Matt Rhodes's pedal steel and the crack rhythm section of bass-man Dwayne Casey and drummer Ilya Kolozs are far more than mere window dressing. So far, Yoria and company have released a total of nine tunes on two EPs, and there's not a lump of coal among them. It's just a shame that Santa Claus -- in the form of a major label -- hasn't spread Yoria's gifts around a little farther.
Great band names are significantly less common than bad ones. Many are pretentious. Still more are just plain stupid. Or goofy. Or snide. For example, an Austin band in the '90s conjured up a wonderful moment in TV history where racists clashed with a pretentious talk show host. That band, Geraldo's Broken Nose, is history now as well. The best band names are short, to the point, memorable, and conjure up in some intangible way the music they advertise, the times they live in, and possibly even the city the band comes from. For now, Katy's youthful punks, the Diseased Pigeons, take the cake. Only a punk band could have such a lurid, unforgettable name. And with the West Nile virus ravaging our avian population, no name could be more geographically appropriate. Check their bizarre Web site (www. diseasedpigeons.cjb.net) for some of their useful statements of intent, such as this one, from "The Cat Song:" "I want to be a cat / I'll eat myself a rat / You won't see me in the fog / I'll be taunting your dog." Well, try to find it, if you can, amid all the levitating clip-art monkeys, lions, and gingerbread men and the weather forecasts for Djibouti and Colombo. These kids aren't there yet, but they look like they might be going places.
Great band names are significantly less common than bad ones. Many are pretentious. Still more are just plain stupid. Or goofy. Or snide. For example, an Austin band in the '90s conjured up a wonderful moment in TV history where racists clashed with a pretentious talk show host. That band, Geraldo's Broken Nose, is history now as well. The best band names are short, to the point, memorable, and conjure up in some intangible way the music they advertise, the times they live in, and possibly even the city the band comes from. For now, Katy's youthful punks, the Diseased Pigeons, take the cake. Only a punk band could have such a lurid, unforgettable name. And with the West Nile virus ravaging our avian population, no name could be more geographically appropriate. Check their bizarre Web site (www. diseasedpigeons.cjb.net) for some of their useful statements of intent, such as this one, from "The Cat Song:" "I want to be a cat / I'll eat myself a rat / You won't see me in the fog / I'll be taunting your dog." Well, try to find it, if you can, amid all the levitating clip-art monkeys, lions, and gingerbread men and the weather forecasts for Djibouti and Colombo. These kids aren't there yet, but they look like they might be going places.
After three years, a boatload of Press music awards and more than 100 local gigs, Houston's very own Marxist synth-pop sextet is no more. Their epitaph: "Let the record state, we kicked nature's ass." Front man Tex Kerschen is now hovering about in his new underground supergroup, Swarm of Angels, with various former or current members of Rusted Shut, the Vulgarians, Matty & Mossy and Culturcide (among others). Of that band's first EP, Splendid E-zine said the following: "Static and dense at best, this short EP is quasi-catchy on a brute, animalistic level" and meant it as a slam. Sounds pretty cool to us. Then again, maybe we're just quasi-smart brute animals.
After three years, a boatload of Press music awards and more than 100 local gigs, Houston's very own Marxist synth-pop sextet is no more. Their epitaph: "Let the record state, we kicked nature's ass." Front man Tex Kerschen is now hovering about in his new underground supergroup, Swarm of Angels, with various former or current members of Rusted Shut, the Vulgarians, Matty & Mossy and Culturcide (among others). Of that band's first EP, Splendid E-zine said the following: "Static and dense at best, this short EP is quasi-catchy on a brute, animalistic level" and meant it as a slam. Sounds pretty cool to us. Then again, maybe we're just quasi-smart brute animals.
Normally the words "rap rock" and "sounds like the Red Hot Chili Peppers" set off alarm bells. Uh-oh, we think, another bunch of loud, heavily tattooed white kids who can't rap or play guitar, jumping around on stage in their briefs bellowing about blunts and the porn starlet du jour. Fantastic. Houston and the world needs that like it needs another energy-trading scandal. Luckily, Houston has Simpleton instead. Like the Chili Peppers with their City of Angels, Simpleton revels in the ins and outs of their hometown -- and at its best, Simpleton is the sound of this overlarge, brawling city. Sly, hilarious front man B.C. is the rare rap-rocker with mad flow, and Marc Armaos is probably the only upright bassist in the rap-rock game. Simon Reynolds's guitar is another highlight -- every song on this disc has a riff you can sink your teeth into, and the scratches of DJ Sun are another big plus. "Milo," Simpleton's ode to the Lima-era Astros, is the best sports-related song to ever come out of this town, and the fact that Houston's nine don't take the field to this rip-roaring anthem is a crime.
Normally the words "rap rock" and "sounds like the Red Hot Chili Peppers" set off alarm bells. Uh-oh, we think, another bunch of loud, heavily tattooed white kids who can't rap or play guitar, jumping around on stage in their briefs bellowing about blunts and the porn starlet du jour. Fantastic. Houston and the world needs that like it needs another energy-trading scandal. Luckily, Houston has Simpleton instead. Like the Chili Peppers with their City of Angels, Simpleton revels in the ins and outs of their hometown -- and at its best, Simpleton is the sound of this overlarge, brawling city. Sly, hilarious front man B.C. is the rare rap-rocker with mad flow, and Marc Armaos is probably the only upright bassist in the rap-rock game. Simon Reynolds's guitar is another highlight -- every song on this disc has a riff you can sink your teeth into, and the scratches of DJ Sun are another big plus. "Milo," Simpleton's ode to the Lima-era Astros, is the best sports-related song to ever come out of this town, and the fact that Houston's nine don't take the field to this rip-roaring anthem is a crime.

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