Rest of the Best: Houston's 10 Best Bands (With Only Two Members)

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I went from being in a band that at its biggest had six members to ending up in one that has only two. Let me tell you something, it is fantastic! Thanks to modern technology, you can replace damn near any instrument and boil down an artistic vision to two mates that get along. I wouldn't trade it for any other sort of lineup.

And apparently I'm not alone, because a fair amount of musical duos in Houston have also found the tag-team to be the most effective way to deliver audio sucker-punches. Here follows 20 people who constitute ten phenomenal acts.

10. Mannequin Mishap Tony Bautista and Manny Trey Lopez have been friends since they were both three months old, and three years ago they put their drums, bass and screaming skills to good use as a musical team. Last year they released debut album Hypnic Jerk II, a nonstop high-energy slap-punk sort of thing that isn't afraid to delve into more experimental math-rock. They sure don't sound like just two guys.

9. Cashus A pretty new band formed by Matt Cloud and Hayden Wander from excuseMesir and Ruiners, so far Cashus only has a three-song EP, Never Was, to its credit. What an EP it is, though, with plenty of hopeless, manic indie-rock energy. Cloud is a gift of a rhythm section that opens the songs up wide.

8. Vendetta Diabolique What do you get when you combine Doomstress Alexis's (Project Armageddon) one-of-a-kind wasteland wail with the guitar work of Jan Kimmel from Sanctus Bellum? An industrial dance outfit, believe it or not, and it is a thing of dark beauty. Nothing better than seeing of Houston metal's finest playing outside the box.

7. Tan Dragon Clan Austin Canik and Cody Adams use a lot of words to describe their sound, but for my money it's glam. Good, Roxy Music glam with just a touch of jazz and funk to give the boys room to maneuver. Seriously, they make me want to bust out the Velvet Goldmine DVD again.

6. Asmodeus X At its height, Asmo had four members, but as they finished out their career only Paul Fredric and Brad Marshall were left soldiering on to the end. At least that's what I thought. Apparently there's going to be an Asmodeus X reunion at the Texas Industrial Festival.

Whether this appearance will include former members Joel 313 and Chris Vasquez I don't know, but Marshall and Fredric put out quality product. Hopefully the two of them will find enough spark to grace us with another album or two.

5. Mood Indigo For something both low-key and impossibly wonderful, you'll want the vocal jazz-duo stylings of Susan Elliott and Joe Romano. It's like Bobby McFerrin meets Paul Simon, but with just enough rhythm to keep it moving like a dance. Mood Indigo approaches what they do with moderation and an eye for whimsy, and that's what makes them so engaging.

List continues on the next page.

4. Thing Else When I heard Insko's Gunnar Cushway had a side project I got chills because he's one of the great atmospheric musicians in the city. After Cashway teamed with Taylor Harper, they just have the single song out at the moment, but it'll stick in your head like a hatchet and leave you totally haunted.

Is it better than Insko? Honestly, yeah. There's a bit more focus and a deeper sense of hurt and honesty. I can't wait to hear more.

3. The Shiny Darks This is the band that inspired this whole article. Quenton Rockwell and Chadwick "Chavi" Boswell put out some damned fine hard rock, and their EP Stab at Love will grab you right by your face. Rockwell controls all the melody from foot pedals onstage. while Chavi beats thunder from the drums. It's hard for two guys to sound like The Trimms, but The Shiny Darks do a pretty good job.

2. Night Drive Yes, you could call Night Drive an Austin band as much as Houston, but don't let that deter you from loving some extremely wonderful electropop. After a young woman that both Rodney Connell and Brandon Duhon were dating suddenly and tragically died, the two men formed together to write songs inspired by their loss. It's great stuff that ranks up with BLSHS and Hyperbubble in terms of great Texas electronic acts, but throws in a throbbing pathos on top of the hyperactivity that makes them unique.

1. Morgue City It couldn't be anyone else. Raul Bertot and Spike the Percussionist currently make up this version of Morgue City, and it's by far the best. Just listen to "Hey" up there. It's all the chainsaws and blood of metal and industrial tempered with grunge rock production and straight pop appeal.

I can (and have) listened to Morgue City all day long and never gotten tired of them. The fact that they can do all that with just two guys is amazing. Of course, the same can be said of everyone on this list. Houston's just got great two-man bands.

Jef has a new story, a tale of headless strippers and The Rolling Stones, available now in Broken Mirrors, Fractured Minds. You can also connect with him on Facebook.


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