Second Lovers Enter First Rank of Local Bands

If Rocks Off happened to be put on the spot, our choice for the best group to emerge on the Houston scene in the past couple of years would probably be Second Lovers. It might not even be close.

Reminiscent of a less booze-sodden Whiskeytown, the Lovers' 2012 debut Wishers, Dreamers & Liars was easily one of last year's best local releases, distinguished by crisp melodies and songwriting a cut or two (at least) above the standard twentysomething indie navel-gazing. The band followed in April with "New Mexico," a double-sided single that ups the electric-rock component without sacrificing any of their wistful Americana glow.

Second Lovers formed three or so years ago out of the remnants of Lunara, featuring Pasadena-area natives front man Nicholas Morales and bassist Matt Lopez. Their greatest accompishment thus far may have been maintaining forward momentum in the face of numerous lineup changes: their original drummer left to pursue an internship at U of H; violinist and singer Ashley Parker, who appears on Wishers, also departed.

Guitarist Thom Truver, originally from the Humble/Kingwood area, joined when the group was looking for a bass player, but Morales (already set on Lunara mate Lopez) suggested he pick up the guitar instead. Now drummer Bryan Hoff is about to move to keyboards thanks to a new baby, and The Manichean's Sean Spiller (who helped on the production of "New Mexico") will soon take over on bass.

Despite all the personnel turmoil, though, Truver says the Lovers' transition from newcomers into established act - indeed, for our money Houston's best folk/Americana group since Buxton - has been relatively seamless, citing local benefactors like Magnolia Red and the Convoy Group.

"Once you introduce yourself and get affilliated with those people, it's been phenomenal what they've been able to help us with," he says.

The Lovers have assumed a busy pace that seems almost guaranteed to keep them on the upswing. Before they head back into the studio to record a quick acoustic EP (inspired by Austin singer-songwriter David Ramirez's The Rooster, Truver says) and begin work on another full-length album, Saturday at Fitz the Lovers will premeire their video for "New Mexico."

Directed by their friend/manager Tom Paynter, the clip finds the band peforming in the main hall of St. Arnold's Brewery north of downtown, conveniently splicing in plenty of footage of the picturesque brewery thanks to Paynter's job making promotional films for the popular local beverage-maker.

"I'm proud of it," Truver says of the video. "I think it's great because it just showcases someone in Houston who had an idea that they loved and [has] become an amazing company, a company that speaks volumes about Houston and what it's becoming. And what it is."

Truver is of course talking about St. Arnold's, the beer, but could just as easily be describing his own band.

Second Lovers' "New Mexico" release party is Saturday at Fitzgerald's with Emily Wolfe, Matt Harlan and Yello Echo. Doors open at 7 p.m.


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