Saturday, November 6, 2010

The Tejas Twelve

This article was constructed to create awareness about twelve bands I find to be the hardest working, stand out bands hailing from The Great State. Below are critiques, comparisons and links concerning the bands discussed. I hope readers will find this article entertaining and enlightening but, above all, the most important thing you find from reading this article is TIME; time to see these bands should you be lucky enough to have them pass through a city near you.

So, without further ado, I give you…


12. O Pioneers!!!


O Pioneers!!! is a folk-punk band hailing from the outskirts of Houston, TX formed in the winter of 2004 starting as a 2 piece consisting of vocalist/guitarist, Eric Solomon and drummer, Jeff Groban. Since their inception, they have undergone countless line up changes, rotating members in and out until the formation of their most recent, and seemingly final, cast of band mates featured on their latest effort, Neon Creeps, released in 2009 on Asian Man Records.

Why You Should Care:

With a sound reminiscent to early Hot Water Music, Against Me, & Bear Vs Shark, O Pioneers!!! have crossed the country on both regional and national tours with the likes of Latterman, Fake Problems, and By the End of Tonight, leaving show-goers in awe of their angst-filled messages and striking performances. The band has produced two full-length albums and countless splits/compilations on various formats including vinyl, CD, and even cassette! 

Required Listening: Neon Creeps

Our Favorite Track: “Saved By The Bell Was A Super Good Show”

11. BONNIEblue


BONNIEblue is a southern-metal band that formed in late 2007 in one of the most unlikely spots for any Texas metal band, home of the Texas Aggies, College Station. However, these country boys did not let their unfortunate location stop them from quickly becoming one of the towns most recognized acts. In 2008 the band put out their self–released Blood In the Soil EP. They have continued to perform in support of that release. bringing their unique blend of southern metal to anywhere that dare have them.

Why You Should Care:

BONNIEblue has crafted a distinct mix of southern metal to be celebrated alongside such acts as Maylene & The Sons of Disaster, Memphis May Fire, and earlier Every Time I Die peppering in their own vastly more technical perspective. Despite the bands hectic schedule, they have managed to hammer out what has become their first full-length album, Attack of the Lot Lizards, self-released in October of 2010. They had a CD release tour that took place the same month. In addition to all of this, the band has already begun writing their next record, which is sure to please current fans and expose them to even wider audiences.

Required Listening: Attack of the Lot Lizards

Our Favorite Track: “Swine Flu”

10. Newlywed


According to their Twitter account, Newlywed have been playing music together since every member was 14-years-old. In this time, they have managed to perfect their songs and mold them into two releases thus far: Fear Country in early 2008 and a split with the late San Marcos rock band, Clubs, in 2010. Their blend of hardcore/punk demands attention and is sure to electrify fans of Black Flag, The Bronx and Cancer Bats.

Why You Should Care:

If this were a review about under-rated Austin bands, Newlywed would have definitely made the number one spot. Since their formation in 2006, Newlywed have turned out the most highly charged hardcore/punk super-hits only to go unnoticed or mistaken for a reality show concerning the married lives of mindless, washed up pop singers. Needless to say, their continuing the band and nightly pouring out their souls in front of audiences may mean that their hearts are bigger than their band name but Newlywed has yet to disappoint a crowd.

Required Listening: Fear Country

Our Favorite Track: “Paranoia Will Distroia”

9. Alphanumeric


Alphanumeric is a thrash band formed in Austin, TX in the winter of early 2010 by guitarist/vocalist Blake Strahan and drummer Myk Barry. Both founding members had been in previous big-buzz Texas bands (Strahan- Wake the City/ Barry – In Dying Fashion) and together wrote what would be come the band’s self-released, debut album, Zenith Angles. In an attempt to complete the line up, Barry recruited acquaintance and former bass player of San Antonio, TX’s Prom Night Fist Fight, Cameron Kisel, solidifying the band as a 3 piece.

Why You Should Care:

Not only did the band spend their own money to record their self-released debut album, Zenith Angles, but also reached even deeper into their own pockets to travel from Texas to New York in order to shoot a high-definition music video complimenting the albums single, “Bone Dance,” with filmmaker Carlos Ortega. In addition to completing Zenith Angles earlier this year, the band has almost finished writing their sophomore effort to be titled The Season of Paramount, which they have already begun tracking. Be sure to be on the lookout for The Season of Paramount, which is scheduled for release as early as spring of 2011.

Required Listening: Zenith Angles

Our Favorite Track: “The Contract”

8. Sohns


Sohns are an indie/punk quartet that formed in San Antonio, TX in mid 2007. Since their formation they have toured relentlessly through the US with such acts as The Grasshopper Lies Heavy and La Dispute. The bands sound could be faintly related to that of Converge, Blood Brothers or Daughters with an energy matched closely by Refused but these comparisons are far from what ranks them at number 8 on our list. Sohns live show is by far their most breath-taking attribute, always offering a stand out performance in clubs but more often at DIY house shows.

Why You Should Care:

Sohns have worked tirelessly to put out an EP, multimedia disc, and a split with new label mates, The Grasshopper Lies Heavy, on various labels including Mayday! Mayday! Records!, The Little Viking Company and even Mt. Hope Revival Records of Austin. The bands current activities include recording a debut full length to be titled To Ward It Off And Drown It Out produced by Chris Common (Native, Pelican, These Arms Are Snakes) on Forgotten Empire Records to be released early 2011.

Required Listening: Eating Death Mountain EP

Our Favorite Track: “We Don’t Use Neon”

7. Thieves


Thieves are a pop-punk four piece formed in Austin, TX from the remnants of two local band break ups, The Cabaret and Tomorrows Too Late, back in late 2008. The marriage has granted a small Austin following based off the popularity of their two previous bands, but they really made a name for themselves opening for larger genre acts passing through town such as Drop Dead, Gorgeous, Scary Kids Scaring Kids and Hit The Lights. Since then, they have gained widespread recognition touring regionally alongside their up-and-coming pop-punk peers, With The Punches and Carridale.

Why You Should Care:

Other than taking the Texas pop-punk scene by storm with a self-released four song EP back in 2009, Thieves have recently inked a record deal with local promotion company/indie record label newcomers, Vagabond Collective, and are scheduled to release their debut full-length, to be titled Just Give It Up, later this year. With a full-length in the works and an ever-growing fan base, Thieves have earned every inch of their number 7 spot on our list!

Required Listening: 2009 EP

Our Favorite Track: “Slo-Motion”

6. Zlam Dunk


Zlam Dunk is a five piece self-proclaimed “dance/punk” band formed in a San Marcos dorm room in February of 2008. The band has gained popularity through their participation demanding, high-energy shows featuring two sets of drums, keys, tambourines and packed out crowds. Their songs feature subject matter dealing with Top Gun, zombies, The Black Plague and many more creatively obscure topics. Zlam Dunk has played locally with a variety heavyweights ranging from Dr. Manhattan all the way to critically acclaimed Houston rapper, Paul Wall.

Why You Should Care:

Aside from being honored in the January 2009 issue of Alternative Press’s unsigned bands of the month section, Zlam Dunk have made a name for themselves all on their own self-releasing a slue of EP’s including their most popular to date, We Are All Dead EP, released in May of 2009. The band is currently working on their latest EP, to be titled Noble Ancestry, this time featuring nine new tracks. Be on the look out for Zlam Dunk’s Noble Ancestry EP scheduled for release December 3, 2010.

Required Listening: We Are All Dead EP

Our Favorite Track: “Patrick”

5. Set Aflame


Set Aflame is a six piece Texas Metal band formed in Austin sometime back in 2004. The band had undergone many changes in both genre and line up halting at the addition of their latest member and front man, Johnny Ybarra, in late 2009. The band has released two EP’s and one full length offering their brand of party metal, as passionate as it is violent, to anyone set on expanding a collection likely consisting of Darkest Hour, Every Time I Die and Black Dahlia Murder records.

Why You Should Care:

Besides housing a triple-guitar assault, Set Aflame focuses on writing high-energy material that is as aggressive on record as it is performed live which is reflected on their latest effort and debut full length, Beheader, self-released in February of 2010. The band spent the better part of this summer touring in support of Beheader and has already begun writing new material scheduled to be recorded as early as November 2010.

Required Listening: Beheader

Our Favorite Track: “Thunderhoof”

4. Brother/Ghost


Brother/Ghost is an experimental/indie band from Austin, TX that formed in the fall of 2008 when guitarist/vocalist Jasper den Hartigh and drummer Austin Matherne moved to the capital city and befriended future guitarist, Sterling Dowdy, through mutual acquaintances. Soon after, the group began writing material and recruited bass player, Colby James, establishing the band as a four piece. Brother/Ghost put out their first EP, titled Black Ice, on Austin-based indie label Mt. Hope Revival in July of 2009. They have since worked tirelessly to display a D.I.Y. sense of work ethic ranging from making their own show posters and merchandise to personally recording every bit of their music.

Why You Should Care:

den Hartigh offers, “While most bands play music as an escape from reality, we play music that brings listeners back into reality.” This mentality is sure to hold true on their upcoming, and so far untitled, twelve track debut full-length which the band will record themselves in the winter of 2010 to be released shortly thereafter. The upcoming record is said to have a deeper and darker sound than Black Ice; one that den Hartigh says, “will make The Smiths sound like Smash Mouth!”

Require Listening: Black Ice EP

Our Favorite Track: “Waal”

3. Fire From the Gods


Fire From the Gods is a five piece metalcore band that formed in Austin, TX in 2006. Since their formation, the band has gained widespread recognition through their energetic live shows drawing crowds participating in the bands performances by chanting choruses and dancing at nearly every opportunity. On June 30, 2010, Fire From the Gods were chosen out of 14,000 bands that were entered to perform on the Ernie Ball Stage on the 2010 Van’s Warped Tour in Las Cruces, New Mexico. In April of 2010 the band self-released their debut full-length, Sleeping With Anchors And Mirrors, and celebrated the release of the album with a three week, west coast tour which the band called the “Just Living the Dream Tour” with McAllen, TX metal band, The Requested, as support.

Why You Should Care:

Aside from being the most resilient band featured, Fire From the Gods earned their number three spot on our list with their consistent live delivery and clever song writing. The opening track of the bands 2010 release, Sleeping With Anchors And Mirrors, features the bands rendition of a man who is hospitalized and drifts into his own personal hell forcing him to deal with his internal demons. This move sets up the concept of the album, which deals with depression, the human condition, and finally, enlightenment. Fire From the Gods current activities include solidifying the longevity of the band by seeking management and writing new material to be recorded in early 2011.

Our Favorite Track: “Vincent the Vessel”  

2. True Widow


True Widow is a three piece stonegaze band hailing from Dallas, TX that formed in the winter of 2007. Vocalist/guitarist, Dan Phillips, conceived the band based off material that he had written after the split of his previous group, Slowride, and recruited drummer Timothy Starks and co-vocalist/bassist Nicole Estill to establish the bands line up. True Widow released their self-titled debut full-length on Austin-based indie label, End Sounds Records, in November of 2008 and has since toured in support of the release with the likes of Sleepy Sun, Bad Dream and more.

Why You Should Care:

Other than pioneering a unique blend of grunge and shoegaze featuring dual male and female vocals, this band tunes it down and slows the pace to deliver track after track and firmly establishes their own collection of haunting lullabies. The opening track of their 2008 self-titled album, “AKA,” has a music video shot entirely in Sweden by Swedish filmmaker Mats Ek, who, according to the bands website, wrapped the entire production in the few days between Christmas and New Years of 2009. True Widow’s current activities consist of recording their next, and so far untitled, full-length album to be released in early 2011 on Kemado Records.

Required Listening: True Widow (self-titled)

Our Favorite Track: “Corpse Master”

1. Surrounded By Monsters


Surrounded By Monsters are a six peice experimental metal band from Denton, TX formed in early 2007. In the same year of their formation the band self-released their first EP titled, That Ain’t No Moon, produced by Steven Bradley of iwrestledabearonce. As many bands do, Surrounded By Monsters underwent predictable member changes, but the band refused to let that hold them back. Their non-stop tour schedule includes hitting the road with the likes of Austin, TX death metal act, Falsetta, Audette and friends iwrestledabearonce. In June of 2009 the band self-released their sophomore EP, Planet Horror!, and has all but finished recording their third, and so far untitled effort to be self-released in October of 2010.

Why You Should Care:

Vocalist Michael Batson offers, “Being in a band has been really difficult in the past year because the scene is so over saturated with bands that pop up sounding exactly like the one before them. [Surrounded By Monsters] are striving to be real musicians offering fans something different and refreshing.” We couldn’t have said it any better ourselves! Surrounded By Monsters earned their number one spot on our list by offering legitimate substance with a combination of their experimental take on modern metal and uncompromising work ethic. In a scene overpopulated with copycats and autotuned vocals, Surrounded By Monsters strive to bring you an intoxicating progression that inspires as well as delivers. Be sure to check out Surrounded By Monster’s in a city near you as they tour in celebration of their third release in the early months of 2011.

Required Listening: Planet Horror!

Our Favorite Track: “Swayze Crazy”

John Strother


All links for free downloads were previously posted online by separate parties unaffiliated with Birdpipe Entertainment. What I have done is simply provided links to these pre-existing downloads. Every one of these albums can be found in Google (Yes, that’s how I acquired them). Because I did not upload these albums I do not have the power to destroy them. However, at the artist’s request I will promptly take down the hyperlinks. Please remember, our goal as patriots of the music community is to reach as many people as humanly possible.


  1. "At the artists requests..." I say you ROCK. Good article, good points. Thanks for posting. I will check em out.

  2. Thank you so much, Kristin! I believe that you are the first person to every actually comment on this blog. With that being said, YOU ROCK!