Touting oneself as "San Antonio's most innovative new band" seems a bit pretentious, but that's what it says right at the top of Snowbyrd's bio. Lyrics like "It's sometimes hard to find us / but there's no need to remind us / guitar rock is back / 'cause we never changed" have more than a bit of a marking-our-territory, self-congratulatory attitude. Snowbyrd goes so far as to include an open barb at current San Antonio poppy art rock faves Buttercup ("The Playboys like to mix it up / but we're still too loud for The Buttercups"). Hmmm. Could there be a bit of competitiveness and self-involvement in the San Antonio pop scene?

Rivalries aside, Houston will probably dig this twin-guitar post-punk foursome, which possesses a keen musical sense and an edgy take on the current possibilities in power pop. New release Snowbyrd has buckets of attitude but is way too melodic for a punk or metal label and too pop for an alt-country tag. While Snowbyrd may not have the vocal prowess or the attendant "pretty factor" of Buttercup, their guitar-driven attack creates walls of thrash and roll and bows toward everything from The Clash on "St. Mary's Nights" to the psychedelic side of the Burrito Brothers on "Tower of Pearl." "Ram," a free-flowing tribute to Ram Ayala, the slain owner of legendary venue Taco Land and the godfather of San Antonio punk rock, is a heady mix of spacey psychedelia aided by a steel guitar that seems so out of place it's perfect.

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William Michael Smith