Wind-up: The House That Creed Built kicked off its love affair with Dallas by releasing Drowning Pool's Sinner in 2001. The next year, Wind-up signed Stereo Fuse and SubmerseD, and now has Edgewater on its roster. Which makes it the unofficial label of Sack of Kittens. Hey, we didn't say these labels were signing good bands.
Deep Elm: Not surprising that this North Carolina-based outfit has a bit of a soft spot for the 214, since it basically takes its name from--that's right--Deep Ellum. (Owner John Szuch has said as much.) In 2002, the label released albums from Lewis (Even So), Red Animal War (Black Phantom Crusades) and Slowride (As I Survive the Suicide Bomber). Recently, Deep Elm issued Slowride's latest, Building a Building. And for some reason, they still haven't actually moved into Deep Ellum.
Bella Union: This U.K.-based label (run by erstwhile Cocteau Twins Robin Guthrie and Simon Raymonde) snatched up Lift to Experience after a whup-ass SXSW set a couple of years ago, leading to 2001's The Texas-Jerusalem Crossroads and plenty of pants-wetting from the folks at NME. They've continued mining the Denton vein, releasing Jet Screamer's Starhead earlier this year and Midlake's Bamnan and Sliver Cork early next.
Aezra: In the '90s, Interscope had a roster filled with locals: the Reverend Horton Heat, the Toadies, Deep Blue Something, Soak, Brutal Juice. Now two of them (DBS and the Toadies) are on this Phoenix label. Fitting since both groups have sort of risen from the ashes and all that. (Don't get excited: The Toadies aren't exactly back together, but they're still putting out albums. They're just albums they already recorded.) Aezra's best local hope is Chomsky, which will debut for the label early next year with Let's Get to Second.
Same thing also happened with Washington, D.C.'s Beatville Records. The label released albums by the pAper chAse, [DARYL], Lucy Loves Schroeder and Kid Chaos all within the span of about a year. We're not sure why this happens, and keeps happening, but we've got one theory: No one really pays much attention to Dallas until they have to. When they come to town, they find something else that catches their eyes and ears, and so on and so on. Which means it can happen again at any given time, so stop screwing around.
Expect big things from Eisley next year. This one has been sort of a learning experience, a year of prep school before heading off to college: They started 2003 by signing with Record Collection, a boutique label that's part of the Warner Bros. family. Then came a high-profile tour with Coldplay, followed by a well-received EP (Laughing City) and an even bigger tour with Coldplay. As the year winds down, they're on their first club tour (with Brand New and Hot Rod Circuit, which hits Gypsy Tea Room on November 10) and have just released their second EP, Marvelous Things. Sort of: The four-song set is already up on iTunes and Napster and such, but it won't be in stores until December 29. You can snag a copy at the GTR gig.
If that sounds like they've already had a big year, well, they have. But really, the band members--sisters Chauntelle (guitar), Stacy (keyboards and vocals) and Sherri DuPree (guitar and vocals), their brother Weston (drums) and friend Jonathan Wilson (bass)--are just kind of finding their way. The two EPs have given them a chance to record with four different producers and to figure out what feels right in the studio. The tours have shown them what the road is like from top to bottom.
They begin recording their first full-length in February. They were good before. With a year of experience, they'll be even better. Expect big things.
Jessica Smith is putting together an event called the Texas State-Wide Simultaneous Elliott Smith Remembrance. You can likely guess what it is by the title. If you wish to take part, the Web site is at www.geocities.com/txesmith/memorial.html. Or you can reach Jessica at [email protected]. It's still very sad.