The Best Local Songs of 2008, Part 1

"Song About My Mom," Jenny Westbury: This song likely encompasses all of Westbury's tunes. It's silly, serious and most of all lyrics meet instrumentation in perfect harmony. Westbury's lyrical phrasing makes it seem as though rhyming couplets pour as effortlessly out of her mouth as water does from a faucet.

She sings: "Hawaiian shirts and button-downs and party gowns are difficult, especially the sleeves / Her fingers were so delicate / experienced as she was / From securing the tightrope / And the flying trapeze for the fleas / We need no safety nets / Their second-nature stunts are guaranteed to crowd please."

"Freeway Land," Three Fantastic: There has never been a local band more underappreciated than Three Fantastic. These four dudes from Conroe are led by the band's two longest-standing members, Kelly Doyle and Charles Peters (two of Houston's best songwriters, period). The pair must have studied the elements of rock greats - The Beatles, Devo, Led Zeppelin, The Clash, Otis Redding, etc. etc. etc. - and plucked their strongest attributes.

This is exemplified throughout the band's second full-length, this year's Life Just Keeps Getting Better and Better, especially in the fast-paced, Arabian-nights-riff-driven "Freeway Land." Please, please, please, local bands, book these guys on your shows so we can hear them. We're losing our minds.

"Two Ways," Gold Sounds: This Deer Park trio hit everyone by surprise with their classic-rock jams. "Two Ways" was the stand out of the various-versions EP the band sold at shows. This song has all the marks of catchy greatness: lyrics yearning for the one that got away, a steady, tap-friendly drum beat and guitar licks that signal the moment when you're really supposed to mean it when you sing the chorus: "Baaaby / Wish I was / Back with you ..."

"Spanish and Jazz," Wild Moccasins: Oh Zahira, your vocals make us want to sit in a bay window and watch the wind blow through the trees and hair of children playing in the street. This young local quintet can't escape the worlds "jangly" and "folk." But this tune from its Grey Ghost release hints at a whole mess of yet-to-come sounds-like adjectives including soulful, jazzy and Cure/Blondie-esque.

"Art School," Teenage Kicks: In an appropriate punk-rock fashion, we're going to choose one of Teenage Kicks' more obscure, initial tracks. But "Art School" really does hint at its followers. Drum build-ups cue a drop beat that signals the sing-a-long chorus "When you went you went to art school ..." as falling ohs and ahs back it up. It's littered with high-pitched, quick guitar riffs and the lyrics are a backhanded I miss you to a school-bound chummmm-p. - Dusti Rhodes

[Note: Stay tuned for Part 2 tomorrow.] 

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