Bright Men of Learning (Houston, TX)
They practice all the time, hardly ever play, and insist (despite some recent indications to the contrary) they’re “allergic to promotion.” The result is that BMOL is one of Houston’s most criminally under-appreciated bands. Preddy’s whisky-soaked phrasing, Murphy and Kahlich’s lovely guitar work, and Sage and Senske’s solid rhythm section combine to form one of the warmest and most inviting sounds in the city. – 29-95.com
Professed fans of Tom Petty and the Replacements, the Bright Men do a good job of blending the open strum of Petty’s popped-up Americana and the rough edges and everyman focus of the ‘Mats hopped up garage…Just loose and dirty rock and roll with enough tuneful touches to qualify as “pop,” but definitely not pretty. – Delusions of Adequacy
Bright Men of Learning inject a heavy dose of nineties indie rock into a blend of old-style pop and early alternative. At times, the music brings to mind Pavement and The Replacements, seventies-era Stones, and Big Star, but it also showcases the group’s more modern appeal. – Houston Calling
Distant echoes of Black and Blue-era Stones, as well as the more recent releases from Pavement and the Replacements, are all easy to detect on this 11-song collection from this local quartet. – Houston Press
Early last year the band formerly known as Chasmatic hit the circuit with a new name, a whole new batch of material and attitude (something their songs lacked). Now they’ve finally put it all on disc —and it translates. Bright Men are a rock band, but this isn’t necessarily a rock record; it’s more like campfire pop music. Lead singer boy Marshall Preddy’s penchant for the all-too strummy guitar is all but erased in favor of more intertwined guitar work with Chris Kahlich, whose leads don’t quite control every song but definitely guide them. – 002 Magazine
A Sundae Drive (Houston, TX)
For most of the band’s debut EP, You’re Gonna Get Me, it feels like A Sundae Drive just rolls hazily along, serene smiles across the band members’ faces as the music unwinds itself to whatever its eventual destination’s going to be. They nod and sway like they’ve done it forever, but they’re not dreampop (or shoegaze, or whatever you want to call it), not exactly, but they’ve taken pieces of that sound and made ‘em their own.
Take the driving bass at the start of “…And See the World,” for one example — it bumps its way speedily through, Britpop-style, but over the top there’re wavery, watery guitars that bring to mind Teenage Fanclub (or maybe Surfer Blood), as well as some sweetly drifting harmony vocals. On the other end of the spectrum, “I’m a Poster” is right-angled and math-y, with defiant, J. Robbins-like vocals, spiraling guitars, and a jagged, almost stop-start structure. And despite the differences, it all sounds like the same band, which is no mean feat in itself.
Then there’s “Buenos Aires, Manny Pacquiao,” a soft-voiced look backwards at childhood that makes me think of Austinites Meryll more than anything else; both bands craft songs that are intensely personal and reference events that happened when the singer was a kid but still feel utterly relevant to the listener, right here in the present. There’s also a resemblance to Copeland’s gently-rocking post-emo pop, both on “Buenos Aires” or on the steadily-building “So Sleep.”
What’s really interesting about the EP, though, is that A Sundae Drive sound like a pop band that doesn’t really realize it is a pop band. They’ve got all the indie-rock influences poking out from beneath their sleeves, sure, and it’s obvious they love a lot of sharper-edged stuff — the Pixies-esque guitar drone in the background on “Alone Bad, Friends Good” gives that away, not to mention that nice “walking” melody — but the actual songs they’re writing are warm and fuzzy ’round the edges, nodding in a friendly way when you walk in the door.
At the EP’s end, when the band turns down for the up-close, slow-stepping rumble of “I’m Gonna Miss You Like Crazy,” with the droney, half-distorted, Seam-like guitar line and frontman Zeek Garcia’s deliberate, quiet vocals whispering in my ear, it hits me: I really, really like this band. A Sundae Drive don’t need to bash you over the head with how good they are; they’d much rather stand in the corner, plug in, and play until your brain catches up to what your ears already know. – Space City Rock
The Magnificent Snails (Austin, TX)
“Ah! Ah! Ah! Ah!” is a winner, blending 60’s pop with Spoon-y syncopations. The rhythmic main vocal hook is a real keeper, the best of many good moments by soulful lead whiner Russell Galis.”
-BIG WESTERN FLAVOR
“With touches of horns and experimental torques, the Snails can ripple with softly gleaming harmonies, bounce with a kind of Vampire Weekend punch of infectiousness, and even cut funky garage-glam with effective relish…”
-THE AUSTIN SOUND