Thursday night in New York City, Houston promoter The Convoy Group and several other companies (including Brooklyn Vegan's Austin bureau) co-sponsored "The Texas Takeover," an evening of all-Lone Star music at Chelsea drinkery Rebel NYC, part of the famous emerging-talent festival CMJ. On the bill were Houston's Tontons, New York City Queens and Josiah Hall, Austin's Wild Child and Shakey Graves, and then Robert Ellis, who probably belongs to both towns at this point.
Speaking of the Tontons, when the band headed off to play another up-and-comer fest, PopMontreal in early September, it dawned on Rocks Off that the local bands we generally thought of as "new" really weren't that "new" anymore. Folks we had grown accustomed to thinking of as "baby bands" (Fat Tony, Ellis, Buxton, the Tontons, Wild Moccasins, Grandfather Child, etc.) have instead been steadily recording and touring for several years now. Even the Wheel Workers/Second Lovers/Poor Pilate/Featherface generation, groups that more or less date back to late 2010 and early 2011, isn't that new anymore.
Shockingly, it didn't take very long after that for us to think, "Well... who is?" We really do try to keep track, but it is a constant struggle; seriously, there is a lot of music out there, Houston.
We asked three promoters who handle what we'll call (no disrespect) entry-level local bands -- Jason Petzold of Pegstar (Fitzgerald's), Treaty Oak Collective's Brandon Lemons (Mango's, Walters) and Phil Peterson of Dean's and Notsuoh -- which bands they first started noticing in the past year or so. Rocks Off added a couple whose names keep coming up in various club listings and whatnot.
You'll have to trust us all on the math, but meet your 2012 freshman music class, Houston. (List is alphabetical.)
Sound/History: Mmmmm... Grizzly Bear? Psych-ish, eccentric pop, anyway. A Sea Es is local musician Austin Smith, who has expanded the roster to accommodate his live calendar. Output So Far: Releasing self-titled first album next Friday at Fitzgerald's with Candy Coated Mothership, Poor Pilate, Mystery Flavor and a $500 costume contest. Upcoming Shows: See above.
Sound/History: Angry, angry hardcore with former members of the Burden and Fight Pretty. Space City Rock likened them to Barkmarket, which is definitely a compliment. Output So Far: Six-song cassette recorded live at this year's Free Press Summer Fest.
Sound/History: Female singer-songwriter. Promoter Says: "Incredible voice and nerve-searing lyrics -- vast array of styles/songs," says Peterson. "Not shabby on guitar either."
Promoters Say: Mentioned by both Phil Peterson and Jason Petzold, who described them as "some pretty cool shoegaze stuff."
Self-Description: "Favors blood lube over spit or gasoline" Promoter Says: "Very, very angry post-hardcore band with members of Fight Pretty" -- Lemons Output So Far: The Voyeur EP; "Restrict My Breathing" streaming on Bandcamp
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Sound/History: Unreconstructed '86-style thrash metal. Teenagers. Much admired by Rocks Off's Nathan Smith. Upcoming Show: October 26, Walters
Sound/History: Leans toward the more anthemic, mainstream side of emo a la Jimmy Eat World. Output So Far: Debut EP Come and Take It released in June; available on iTunes
Promoters Say: Mentioned by both Petzold and Lemons, who called the quartet "Mazzy Star if [Hope Sandoval] rocked really hard." Output So Far: Moxy Kid EP (free on Bandcamp) Upcoming Show: November 9, Fitzgerald's
Sound/History: Duo of Brandon Duhon from HPMA-nominated Houston synth-rockers Glasnost and Rodney Connell of Austin's Motel Aviv. Self-Description: "Inspired by darkwave, synth-pop and other things."
Sound/History: Laid-back Woodlands-based indie-rockers aptly describe their sound as "coolwave." Output So Far: Self-titled three-song release on Bandcamp
Sleuth, bless their hearts, appear to have no Web footprint whatsoever, which makes us like them that much more. They may want to look into that name, though - apparently there's already a Sleuth in Vancouver. Rocks Off's then-intern Alexa Crenshaw happened to catch Houston's Sleuth at Mango's in April, and was reminded of Daydream Nation-era Sonic Youth and Fugazi. Promoter Says: "Great Sonic Youth-inspired band" -- Lemons Proof Sleuth Does Exist: Played with American Sharks and others September 29 at Walters
Sound/History: Electro-pop-soul newcomer claims to be influenced by Beyonce, Santigold and Janelle Monae. Worth a listen or two; you'll be hearing more about her for sure.
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Sound/History: Peterson describes this four-piece as a "roots-rock/Eagles thing." Joined Facebook on October 1, and played Rudyard's three days later. Not bad. Self-Description: "Rock and roll, baby."
Surely there must be a No. 15. Who did we leave off?