October 24th, 2014 | Comments Off
Project Grimm (Houston, TX)
A decidedly less experimental group than its most direct predecessor, the Mike Gunn, Project Grimm was formed in 1995 by Gunn frontman and guitarist John Cramer to satisfy his urges to be a bit more straightforward in his approach to guitar rock. Interested in looking to build a band around this new direction, Cramer called local drummer Rick Costello (…of Houston band Bleachbath) who volunteered his services straight away. Drew Calhoun joined on bass, and former Schlong Weasel (University of Houston “branch”) member Jim Otterson rounded out the lineup as second guitarist. Their first show, on July 3, 1995 was followed by recording sessions that would result in their first album, Lying Down out on Linus Pauling Quartet’s Ramon Medina (also a former Schlong Weasel-er) Worship Guitars label in 1996. The pace of recording and releasing would slow down considerably for the band, which wouldn’t quite get around to releasing the follow-up until 2003. In the meantime, Bo Morris would take over on drums for the kicked out Rick Costello, and Cramer would work with former Mike Gunn colleague Scott Grimm on his Dunlavy project. July 2003 would see the release of Project Grimm’s second album, Huge Beings (released on Camera Obscura’s Australian sister label Camera Lucida), but it would also see the band split — on the very day of the album’s release. Leader John Cramer would later appear as a solo artist working under the name the Powers of Light & Darkness, and played sporadic shows around Houston. – Chris M. True via allmusic.com
Brand New Hearts (Houston, TX)
“One was a quartet of guys from the teeny little town of Magnolia who called themselves Ultramagg. They were one of the best damn emo(-ish) bands this city had seen, in my humble opinion, and they played every show like they were destroying the stage at some arena-sized show in front of a jam-packed crowd of crazed fans. They were heavy, they were melodic, and they were awesome. Frontman/guitaristNathan Parsons wrote the kind of songs I wished I could’ve written, and it killed me when they stepped out of the limelight and put down the guitars and drumsticks.
Then there was Ben Murphy, who fronted or played with a slew of bands back in those days, from Pop Deflation to We’ve Got Airplanesand up through Panic in Detroit and Lucky Motors and beyond (and who most recently worked his magic in the sadly-defunct Bright Men of Learning). I can vividly remember watching Ben play guitar at one We’ve Got Airplanes show and feeling my jaw literally drop as I tried to figure how he was making the sounds that were coming out of the speaker.
Back in those early band days, we — like every band in this town — had trouble finding and keeping a drummer. We auditioned a ton of ‘em, honestly, and one of the few that utterly bowled me over was a guy named Jeff Senske. The man played like a hard-hitting metronome and was one of the best, tightest drummers I’ve heard before or since, up there with Sugar’s Malcolm Travis or Superchunk’s Jon Wurster. (Plus, he makes the best Drummer Faces ever.) Luckily for him, he came to his senses and demurred when we asked him to join the band, but we went on to be in damn near every good band that came after, including Trompedo and the aforementioned Bright Men of Learning.
Last but not least, there was Bring Back The Guns, aka Groceries, aka Gandhi in Evags, aka at least three or four more names I can’t recall. At one point, I’d pinned my hopes on BTTG to be The Band, the one who’d finally make the Music World At Large sit up and pay attention. The band’s skewed-yet-addictive brand of indie-rock was fun as hell but weird enough to make you scratch your head; in a lot of ways, looking back, they were about five years ahead of their time. And after releasing an EP, an album, and a couple of 7″s, they called it quits and went their separate ways, leaving myself and a bunch of other devoted fans sad and disappointed.
I say all this, by the way, both to set the stage somewhat and explain why I was so freaking excited to get word of the existence of Brand New Hearts a month or so back. I’d heard from Nathan Parsons back in the fall, when he nonchalantly mentioned he was trying to get a band together, and a couple of months later, BNH appeared, a band that boasted Parsons, Murphy, Senske, and Ryan Hull of Bring Back The Guns. It was damn-near perfect, at least on paper.
And, happily, from the snippets I’ve been able to hear so far, it’s damn-near perfect in reality, as well. The band comes off like the best elements of all the component bands/musicians, all mashed together into a glorious, rough-edged, insanely catchy whole, and I can’t wait to see ‘em live.” – Space City Rock
Dead Mineral (Houston, TX)
Formed in 2005 under the name Novox, Dead Mineral have been blasting Houston area bars and clubs with mostly instrumental dual guitar driven rock that wraps beauty inside searing noise. Members collectively hail from other Houston bands including Dry Nod, Sprawl, The Drunks, STOMA, The Keenlies, Run Trip and Fall, Rusted Shut, Project Grimm, Texas Guinness Lovers.
“This four-piece formed in 2005, originally billing themselves as Novox. They released a split seven-inch on Four Letter Music with Fired For Walking this year. The Dead Mineral side features their track “Hyper-Vigilance,” a melodic, shifting instrumental number. Houston’s first and foremost “Ouija Rock” band (note, if anyone wants to hop on that bandwagon, you’re likely to be the second) is definitely worth a listen, especially for those who admire Explosions In The Sky but want something a little surlier.” – Houston Press
The Ex-Optimists (College Station, TX)
“I’m honestly kicking myself now for not listening to this sooner. College Station band The Ex-Optimists have been on repeat in my headphones for a while now, drowning me in a turbulent squall of Sonic Youth guitars, driving ’90s indie-drone-rock melodies, and hazy, softspoken vocals, and I’m enjoying the hell out of it.
On “Nitemare City,” the guitars are watery and sharp-edged in equal measure, drifting around you like psychically-controlled knives that periodically dart in to gouge out a chunk of your flesh. In the meantime, frontman Kelly Minnis serenely murmurs and croons like he’s already lost in the swirling murk; that is, until the whole damn thing explodes in a ball of fury partway through before coalescing back into its more stable previous state. The closest thing I can come up with is Houston’s own Muhammad Ali, except that this quartet sounds like they’re fueled less by beer and more by green, leafy substances.
Then there’s B-side “February,” which dives sideways into nearly Dinosaur Jr., quick-stepping along through an insanely-catchy melody while the overfuzzed guitars set fire to the scenery. Occasionally feels like I’m listening to a rougher-edged Silversun Pickups — there’s definitely a hazy, shoegaze quality to it, beneath the out-and-out noise. “- Space City Rock