For Every ZZ Top and Steve Miller our state produces, there are thousands of bands that either wallow in obscurity or just get by with endless, backbreaking tours and the hope of having enough cash to finance some studio time.
Here are some acts that should have hit the big time in their day and a few that still have a chance to do so.10. The Telefones
Dallas' best punk/new wave band seemed on the verge back in 1980, but a fateful move to Los Angeles didn't gain the band the traction it so richly deserved. The Telefones' debut,Vibration Change
, is still one of best albums made by a Dallas band. Occasionally still performing, the Telefones are capable of turning heads with such songs as "Rocket Rocket" and "The Ballad of Jerry Godzilla."9. The Cut Off
Hailing out of Cowtown, this collection of hygienically-challenged misfits worshipped all things Pixies related. They also made one really great EP (2006'sThe Rorschach
) and one pretty great album (2008'sPackaged Up For Beginners
) before calling it quits by the end of the decade.
8. Peyote Cowboys Way before forming the Old 97s, bassist Murry Hammond was playing some crazed, psychedelic guitar in the Peyote Cowboys. Infatuated with classic '60s stoner rock (a la The Seeds) and the bands associated with the 80's Paisley Underground scene in Los Angeles (Dream Syndicate, The Rain Parade), Hammond was a far cry from the stately gentlemen he'd become in the 97's. Songs like "Susan Loves Sharon" and "Mel Coolie A GoGo" were intense and infectious slabs of tripped out psychedelia.7. Horseshoe
Houston's answer to Uncle Tupelo, Horseshoe rode roughshod throughout the '90s and made a debut album,King of the World
, which is still considered one of the area's best releases. Substance abuse and health issues would derail the band, but Horseshoe's latest reunion occurred in 2011, so we might have not heard the last from Greg Wood and crew.6. Churchwood
Austin doesn't have many bands better that Churchwood. Equal parts Howling Wolf and Captain Beefheart, these guys deserve a much wider audience. Luckily, Churchwood still records and plays frequently, so there is still time to bring justice to the blues rock universe.5. Kristy Kruger
A onetime winner of aDallas Observer
Music Award as best female singer, Kristy Kruger never got the attention she obviously deserved and recently left Dallas for New Orleans. Possessing a remarkable voice that can cross genres with alarming ease, Kruger has self-released several fine albums, each begging for you to hear them. Catch her opening for Patti Griffin at the Kessler on October 26.4. Collin Herring
Originally a native of Fort Worth, Collin Herring is the best singer/songwriter that too many folks sadly haven't heard of. Herring's 2005 effort The Other Side of Kindness is a phenomenal album that melds the alt-country and power pop genres with captivating ease. Herring's songs can be utterly heartbreaking and poetic even when he's banging the hell out of his guitar. Currently hanging out in Austin, Herring is working on his fourth album.3. The Reivers
not the Faulkner novel, but the catchy power pop band out of Austin in the 80's, The Reivers have recently reformed and even released a new album. Good news for all involved as frontman John Croslin is still one hell of a songwriter and an underappreciated singer. Sure, he sounds exactly like Ira Kaplan from Yo La Tengo, but when is that a problem?2. The Big Boys
Texas' best punk band bar none, Austin's Big Boys never got the national accolades of Black Flag or Minor Threat. Perhaps because they were actually fun to listen to and god forbid, you could actually dance to a couple of song, few punks outside of Texas showed interest in the varied and forceful music of the Big Boys. Fronted by the late great Randy "Biscuit" Turner, the Big Boys never made a bad record.
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When Austin's True Believers released their self-titled debut album in 1986, it was firmly believed by critics and fans that the band was well on its way to stardom. Surprisingly, the album itself was disappointing, and the band never released a proper follow up. Alejandro Escovedo went on to release several outstanding solo efforts, but when the True Believers were at their best in the early 80's, there wasn't a band in the state that could rival them. The band performs Friday at the Kessler Theater.