I cover local
music for SOTO, so my end of the year-end list is
Austin-focused (with a few exceptions). These are the
artists I listened to the most, saw in concert multiple
times, and was excited to recommend to friends. There's no
special order or ranking here. They are simply the Texas
bands that made me a little happier this year.
Jennifer's Year-End List
This summer, Leatherbag released a musical 1-2 punch with
their Yellow Television LP and Patience EP.
The band found their stride as a trio and I couldn't get
enough of catchy nuggets like Poor Misguided Boy. All
killer, no filler.
- Poor Misguided Boy:
They entered my world two years ago and became an instant
favorite. Intelligent, memorable songs that get stuck in
your head. Bonus points for the use of an omnichord and a
typewriter as percussion in Can't Get Through.
Pons - Can't Get Through:
They released a solid collection of melodic gems with their
third album, Make Up. Lots of jangly guitars with a
just hint of twang. Refreshing like a cold beer on a hot
- Make Up:
I didn't catch onto them with their previous albums but
their latest effort, Alive, won me over immediately.
Bright, upbeat guitar pop that earned many repeat listens.
Bear - Prospect Park:
The Sour Notes:
Their latest album, Last Looks, quickly got its hooks
into me. Well written, infectious tunes with an eclectic
range of sounds. It's much more than indie pop. I love the
killer horn section in Big Dreams.
Sour Notes - Big Dreams:
Elaine had a very busy year - singing and playing with The
Sour Notes as well as releasing her own solo record,
Annotations. She has such a warm, sweet voice that can
melt the coldest of hearts.
Greer - How Many Hearts:
I stumbled across this Houston band in 2010, and they
finally released their self titled album in 2011. I fell in
love with their surf rock inspired garage pop. They're
supposed to be moving to Austin next year, which is
Girls - This Time:
It's no understatement to say that their debut album,
Paper Cuts, flipped my lid during these past couple of
months. This Dallas based quintet display guitar pop
perfection that gets better with every listen. I'm
absolutely addicted to their combination of ringing guitars
and layered harmonies, and I can hardly wait until they come
back for another Austin gig.
Blurries - Pretty Knife:
This band includes members of the Austin band Lil Cap'n
Travis. They've been around for a few years but their debut
album, Wild Eyed In The Hinterlands, wasn't released
until this year. Trippy psychedelic pop with hints of
alt-country and 60s garage rock. They don't perform live
much, but get your hands on their album (on gorgeous
aquamarine blue vinyl) if you can.
Tiny Adventurers - The Cobra And The Mongoose:
Ripe are a musical force to be reckoned
with. A psychedelic pop meets garage rock power trio. They
released their debut full length album, In Your Ears,
this fall. I highly recommend seeing them live to get the
full Ripe experience.
On their fourth release, We Are All Where We Belong,
they've created anthemic yet personal songs touching on
love, faith, belief, religion, and doubt. Their live shows
are a lot of fun filled with plenty of singing along,
clapping, and self deprecating humor.
Company - Fear And Fallacy (Sitting In A Tree):
I featured them in my first post for SOTO because I loved
their single, Run From The Light. Crunchy yet melodic
guitar pop that should be all over the radio. Looking
forward to hearing more from them in 2012.
Rogues - Run From The Light:
They released their debut album, Post Modern Nation,
this year. They bring a 21st century spin on their 80s
influences such as The Smiths, U2, and The Cure. I love the
Morrissey meets Bono vocals and the guitar on the track
Lack Lust is reminiscent of early U2.
Aviv - Lack Lust:
Stereo Is A Lie:
They released their self titled debut album early in 2011 on
their own label, Monolathe. Loud, dual guitars rule here and
are accompanied by dark lyrical themes. If you see them play
live, bring your earplugs (and that's a compliment to their
sound by the way).
Is A Lie - Look At Yourself:
This project is led by ex-Sixteen Deluxe member, Carrie
Clark. Songs like Black Hearted Faction on the
Evil Eye EP have a new wave meets Motown girl group vibe
(with a dash of glam rock). Irresistibly fun and you'll be
singing along to the chorus on first listen.
Lines - Black Hearted Faction:
Becker And The Last Joke:
Ryan Becker and Grady Sandlin of Denton TX based, RTB2,
decided to record covers of some of their favorite Texas
artists for a 6six song EP. The result is a rollicking fun
record worthy of repeat listens. I can confidently say I've
enjoyed their Leatherbag cover as much as the original.
Thomas Becker And The Last Joke - Tom Petty Summer:
They released their third album, Day Is The New Night,
this year. Going to shows I sometimes feel a bit out of
place as an over 40 live music fan, so I can identify with
the lyrics in Not A Kid Anymore - "But when I think
of running out that door/I remind myself I'm not a kid
Towers - Not A Kid Anymore:
Shapes Have Fangs:
I became an instant fan of this local quartet when I first
saw them back in 2007. Their debut album, Dinner In The
Dark, didn't get released until early 2011, but it was
certainly worth the wait. They create a delectable musical
stew of psych, garage, pop, blues, and country.
Have Fangs - Rattle And Confuse Me:
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