Just nominated for Best New Act in the Houston Press Music Awards, Arthur Yoria has generated quite a buzz around town with his frequent gigs. Yoria's self-produced, self-titled EP on his own label, K Oso Records, available at Cactus, is his first release under his own name. He's not a complete unknown, though. Yoria played in the local band the Jeepneys and in a solo bilingual project known as Lavendula.

The resulting EP is a shimmering accomplishment and, to be sure, a good thing despite its lack of publicity. Yoria's songs have been played on college radio, but they would fit comfortably on a mainstream alternative station, on a set with Semisonic and Third Eye Blind.

The lyrics can be exceedingly cruel, but the catchy music masks this bitter streak. Yoria may croon, "Don't be fooled if I appear amused" on "Just Like You," but the music is too contagious not to sing along. Like "Strange Grin," "Just Like You" is emotive, slower, but with driving hooks.

"Several Mistakes in a Row," a surefire winner, showcases Yoria's expressive vocals. His voice is soothing and pleading. It's a great song for sad days when there's nothing to do but brood on past deeds. The best song, by far, is the first. Instantly likable with ready-made choruses, "Of the Lonely" has that intangible hit quality. A pop song to the max, it exemplifies Yoria's songcraft. In fact, Yoria was voted Houston's Best Singer/Songwriter in the 1998 Public News readers' poll.

The prolific Yoria continues to write songs and no doubt will perform new gems at upcoming shows.

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Sande Chen