Ah, punk rock. No matter how many times declare its demise, it just keeps coming back upon us. Right now, Houston's underground scene is bubbling over with talent and the influence of the '80s scene is going strong. Underground bands are getting resurrected by 7-inch collectors, and the look going forward seems to be looking back.
In the midst of all that, it might be time to explore some of the more underrated bands of the time. Some were influential, some just outright forgotten, but there were so many people kicking ass in this genre at the time that it was hard to keep up. These aren't your Black Flags or your Misfits, but are worth remembering all the same.
Really Red Really Red were early adopters of punk rock in Houston, showing off a sound indebted to the Cramps that Houstonians likely had never heard before at the time. They remain influential locally, but unfortunately have been forgotten by the larger punk continuum.
Gorilla Biscuits Gorilla Biscuits ended up being hugely influential in the straight-edge scene of hardcore punk, but are still overlooked these days, unfortunately. It's important to note that they also incorporated some of the melodic overtones that Fugazi was adopting around the same time, but just didn't manage to bring it to the mainstream as much.
Negative Approach Despite experiencing a small renaissance thanks to their 2006 reunion, Negative Approach remains one of the more obscure hardcore punk bands to come out of the early-'80s scene. Their cred remains intact in the underground scene, though, especially since the acclaimed shows they've played in Houston over the last few years.
Big Boys This Austin band became huge in the skate-punk scene and were one of the main hardcore bands to incorporate heavy funk influences into their music. Leave it to Texans to do it totally off-kilter from the Bay Area sound, which had become so popular by then.
Jerry's Kids Boston hardcore has its own distinct sound these days and is known for its rich scene, but in the early '80s it was just starting out; Jerry's Kids was one of the de facto leaders. They also participated in the influential compilation This is Boston, Not L.A.
Sons of Ishmael Virtually unknown outside of collectors from Canada, Sons of Ishmael were an awesome hardcore punk band that mixed in some thrash-metal influences to create some early crossover records. Some interludes sound like Metallica during their Kill 'Em All days, only sped up about 50,000 light-years.
List continues on the next page.
Pitchfork Rick Froberg and John Reis became vastly more famous later for their hugely influential bands including Drive Like Jehu, Hot Snakes, Rocket from the Crypt and most recently the Obits, but started off with another awesome band called Pitchfork that has sadly fallen into obscurity. Their sound blended contemporary '80s sounds to create some of the earliest indie-rock-influenced emo around.
Poison Idea Even though one of their songs was covered by Pantera ("The Badge," as a Japanese bonus track for Far Beyond Driven), Poison Idea remains one of the lesser-known contributors to '80s hardcore. They truly lived up to their album title Kings of Punk however, to those who knew about them.
Legionaire's Disease Band Another little-known but badass Houston punk band, these guys rocked it mostly in the late '70s. However, LDB's only studio release came out in 1980, just on the cusp of hardcore punk's total domination in the early '80s. They might not be famous these days, but were bringing something totally unheard at the time to Houston back then.
Culturcide One last Houston band: Culturcide didn't fit the typical mold of a punk-rock band in the '80s, and it earned them both a cult following and their own essential demise. Their most famous record, Tacky Souvenirs of Pre-Revolutionary America, featured Culturcide songs dubbed over old rock and pop songs, which earned them legal issues and record-label refusals to release any further music by them. Flash-forward to 2014, and that's a practice called sampling that mixtape rappers do constantly. How times have changed.
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