The pride of Port Arthur (with apologies to Janis Joplin), this band's name is both a tribute and a gentle slam on their much-maligned hometown. But the quartet (three of whom have known each other since kindergarten) has nothing to be ashamed of musically. Straightforward rock and rollers without indie affectations or the über-Texas blues touches, Podunk balances a meaty, guitar-driven sound with catchy melodies and a touch of pop harmony.

Their second effort, Throwin' Bones (Matchbox), showcases their sound, from the lighter side ("Summer Song," "In the Middle") to harder fare ("Wings," "Colorblind," "Dashboard Mary"). "Catch the Bus" could be a lost Black Crowes track, with vocalist/guitarist Jason Touchette and lead guitarist Bryan James playing off each other like the brothers Robinson without the fisticuffs. Paul Soroski's bass thumps heavy where it's supposed to, and Dwight A. Baker's drum work holds it all together. And though some songs deserve a little smackdown for their trite lyrics ("Family," "Us," the anti-stick-model anthem "A Little More"), the forceful, no-frills music usually overcomes any literary deficiencies.

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Bob Ruggiero has been writing about music, books, visual arts and entertainment for the Houston Press since 1997, with an emphasis on classic rock. He used to have an incredible and luxurious mullet in college as well. He is the author of the band biography Slippin’ Out of Darkness: The Story of WAR.
Contact: Bob Ruggiero