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Thursday, December 15, 2011

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

Leatherbag:  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.

:Leatherbag - Poor Misguided Boy:

The Pons:  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.

:The Pons - Can't Get Through:

Wiretree:  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 summer day.

:Wiretree - Make Up:

Golden Bear:  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.

:Golden 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.

:The Sour Notes - Big Dreams:

Elaine Greer:  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.

:Elaine Greer - How Many Hearts:

Young Girls:  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 exciting.

:Young Girls - This Time:

The Blurries:  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.

:The Blurries - Pretty Knife:

The Tiny Adventurers:  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.

:The Tiny Adventurers - The Cobra And The Mongoose:

The Ripe:  The 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.

Quiet Company:  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.

:Quiet Company - Fear And Fallacy (Sitting In A Tree):

Gentlemen Rogues:  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.

:Gentlemen Rogues - Run From The Light:

MoTel Aviv:  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.

:MoTel 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).

:Stereo Is A Lie - Look At Yourself:

Elevated Lines:  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.

:Elevated Lines - Black Hearted Faction:

Ryan Thomas 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.

:Ryan Thomas Becker And The Last Joke - Tom Petty Summer:

Moonlight Towers:  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 anymore."

:Moonlight 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.

:Shapes Have Fangs - Rattle And Confuse Me:

- Jennifer Leduc -

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