In this week’s HearSay, our trusty columnist who may or may not be me trots out a bunch of what he thinks are some of the best tunes, albums, and shows to come out of the 817 over the past 10 years. Below are links to some of his favorite tracks for your consideration. Happy listening. (Send hate mail, rusty nails, and subpoenas directly to email@example.com. Send flowers, poems, and pizza-grams to firstname.lastname@example.org.)
the cut*off’s “Big House.” Perfectly ragged pop. A song you think you’ve heard before but, like, totally haven’t.
Calhoun’s “Breathe” and “Kick-Drum Mind.” Perfectly clean pop. If you’re prone to existential angst and are convinced that life isn’t fair –– and root for underdogs and can’t understand why our airwaves are cluttered with so many fucking crappy songs and our multiplexes by so many fucking crappy movies and our bookshelves by so many examples of pure hackery –– then do not listen to either song (or “Big House,” for that matter).
Fate Lions’ “The Girls Are Alright.” Jaunty, Rickenbacker-sounding ’80s-Brit-pop gem off the band’s most recent album, Good Enough For You.
Black Tie Dynasty’s “Lakes.” Another throwback to the ’80s, but instead of Dave Edmunds and The Plimsouls, the dearly departed Black Tie soundchecks Echo and the Bunnymen and Depeche Mode.
Tame … Tame and Quiet’s “Blank Checks on Clean Slates.” A blistering battle royale among fiery drums and clanging guitars (replete with handclaps during the chorus) off the band’s first –– and, sadly, last –– album, Tin Can Communicate.
Stumptone’s “Pendulum.” Epic and unstoppable. Avalanches listen to this song to get fired up. Off the band’s Gravity Suddenly Released album.
The Burning Hotels’ “Austin’s Birthday,” “My New Romance,” and “Stuck in the Middle.” The first song is off the band’s new album, Novels, whose release will be celebrated tonight (a.k.a. New Year’s Eve) at Lola’s Saloon-Sixth (2736 W. 6th St. in the West 7th Street corridor, 817-877-0666).
The other two songs are off the band’s previous recording, the Eighty-Five Mirrors EP, and “Stuck in the Middle,” as I’m sure you’ve probably heard (a million times already in these very pages), was included on the soundtrack to the summer-’09 tween dramatic comedy Bandslam. (The Hoteliers also make a performance cameo in the movie as themselves, playing said song.)
Brandin Lea’s all over HearSay’s list. “When They Come For You,” which originally appeared on the nigh legendary Acoustic Mafia comp CD, is one Lea song that you now can hear only live (and only after you’ve begged him and/or plied him with a couple shots) or on our 2009 Fort Worth Weekly Music Awards compilation CD. (Copies are still available for $5 apiece. Proceeds benefit the Tarrant Area Food Bank. Just e-mail email@example.com.)
Lea’s solo vehicle, The February Chorus (with Telegraph Canyon’s Austin Green on drums, Calhoun’s Jordan Roberts on guitar, and singer-songwriter Taylor Craig Mills on bass) has two tracks on HearSay’s list –– “On a Train” and “Cars and Planes,” both listen-to-able here –– and Lea’s longtime main band, Flickerstick, has three: “Catholic Scars and Chocolate Bars,” “Girls & Pills,” and “Open Up Your Eyes.” The first two are off the band’s most recent –– and, sadly, last –– album, Tarantula. “Girls & Pills” also appears on the recording that came out a couple of months before Tarantula, To Madagascar and Back. The EP/DVD contains HearSay’s other fave Flick track, “Open Up Your Eyes,” an ass-kicker that should have been on Tarantula, IMHO, but for whatever reason wasn’t. Feh.
G.S. Boyz’ “Do Da Stanky Legg.” A floor-filler from some Arlington kids that came out about a year ago. Check out the part in the video where a kid is doing the accompanying dance (Da Stanky Legg, natch) on the hood of a slow-moving car. “Lemme see yo’ sock!”
John Price’s “Closer,” “Slip Away,” “Tongue,” and “Questionably Red.” A couple of years ago, the indie-pop singer-songwriter took a break from music to get his master’s degree in psychology. Now freshly graduated, he may be back on the boards soon. Until then, you can hear the last three songs on his last album, Questionably Red, and, as has been the case for years, you can hear “Closer” only in person (and only after you’ve asked him nicely repeatedly) –– he’s never recorded the song.
Daniel Katsuk’s “Evergreen.” Just a wonderful solo acoustic song with accompanying flute that doesn’t resemble the rocking stuff that the singer-songwriter is doing now but is still a local folk classic.
Collin Herring’s “Cellophane” and “Sandstorm.” Both off Herring’s last album, 2008’s Past Life Crashing. “Cellophane” starts off as a spooky dirge that soon opens up into a hiccupping, bombastic jaunt in which Herring (via the miracle of production technology) harmonizes perfectly with himself. “Sandstorm” is kind of a throwaway –– it doesn’t really jibe with the rest of the album. But there’s no denying the song’s toe-tapping, drivin’-down-the-open-road, throw-your-cares-to-the-wind appeal. To HearSay’s list of all-decade faves, Herring’s “Back of Your Mind” off the singer-songwriter’s The Other Side of Kindness album should have been added.
Titanmoon’s “Where the Sidewalk Ends.” HearSay never even thought the song sounded like R.E.M.’s “It’s the End of the World as We Know It (and I Feel Fine)” until Titanmoon frontman Tyler Casey said something. But singers have been doing that I’m-gonna-rush-through-the-lyrics-as-fast-as-I-can thing forever. (Bob Dylan, anyone?) In other words, R.E.M. didn’t start the fire. Anyway, “Where the Sidewalk Ends” improves upon the lipstick traces of the (rather silly) R.E.M. classic by darkening it and making it appropriately melancholy.
Stella Rose’s “Makin’ It Easy” and “The Christmas Tree.” The first is sexy, driving grunge, and the second is heavy, obsidian, and spooky.
James Hinkle’s “Brother Love.” In the tradition of “Stagger Lee,” the devil, and other blues archetypes, the title character in Hinkle’s song could be an angel of death, a genuine helping hand, or, I guess, even a drug dealer. The mellow tempo and Gut-tar James’ smooth delivery lend a sense of foreboding to the track.
Rivercrest Yacht Club’s “The Tuck.” A killer floor-filler formerly known as “The Tranny Tuck.” “Tuck that shit where the sun don’t shine / Swirl it all around like a glass of wine / Like Colt 45, it works every time / Rub it like a dime while I drop this rhyme / I’m the Clark Kent of the disco scene / I’m a mild-mannered man of the same routine / But when the sun sets I’m a dancin’ machine / Every day’s Halloween, and I’m the queen.”
Clint Niosi’s “My Mephistophilis.” What starts out all pleasant and bluegrassy turns into a sinister, dissonant, Tom Waits-ish stomp.
Telegraph Canyon’s “Old Dark Hymns” and “Shake Your Fist.” They’re Telegraph Canyon songs. ’Nuff said.
Blood of the Sun’s “Burnin’.” Ya like vintage Deep Purple? (I know ya do.) Check out Blood of the Sun –– and smoking out while jamming out to its all-decade track.
Good luck finding a recording of “Business Children,” a lovingly facetious krautrock gem that came out about a decade ago by A.C. Identity, another one of singer-songwriter Nathan Brown’s projects –– in addition to his solo early-’80s-era-synth-R&B stuff, he’s also fronted a rock band, Pretend King, sat in on drums during jazz jams, and currently runs an indie label specializing in recordings on 8-track tape, The Dead Media.