Houston has been blessed with a vibrant music scene for the past five decades, and local rock bands have been a major contributor. The current crop of groups produce a variety of sounds and concert experiences, giving Houston-area residents plenty of options for a rocking night out. Trying to distinguish the best of the bunch is complicated with so much musical talent around. The five groups selected here have worked tirelessly to distinguished themselves through their sound, stage presence and originality.
Described as parts punk, alt-rock and metal, American Fangs has emerged as one of the most successful rock bands to come out of Houston in recent years. In a story not atypical of how great bands evolve, vocalist Gabriel Cavazos and drummer Micah Miller started the group in 2008 with casual jam sessions where they crafted a sound that has been described as “anti-rock star.” The name was chosen for its visual tone, and according to Cavazos, exudes their “who-gives-a-crap” attitude. That mentality has caught on with their fan base, which has steadily grown in past years. American Fangs had been invited to tour with Papa Roach in the United Kingdom this December.
Edgy, high-energy cuts with a huge sound is how Examiner.com music writer Jerry Doby describes the latest album “Back to You” from Dimitri’s Rail. The Houston rock band made its presence known on a larger scale when the group’s 2011 song “Will Never Break” got national air play and was nominated for a Grammy Award for best rock song. The song was written by lead singer/songwriter Paul Ehmer, who started the band in 2001. Fans of Dimitri’s Rail praise the group for its commitment to the craft and ability to consistently put on original and entertaining shows. The high-energy jolt from guitar-infused anthems are particularly popular.
Another Run had quite a setback on the second day of recording the album “I’ll Be There.” The five-piece Houston rock band had its gear stolen. While that setback was the low point, there have been plenty of high times lately. The band won the 2012 Houston press award for Houston’s Best Modern Rock Band. It was also named Best Alternative Rock Band at the Texas Buzz Music Awards. Known for its stage presence, Another Run has brought its original combination of indie rock, soul, blues and pop to Fitzgerald’s, Warehouse Live and venues across the city and state.
If the challenge is to name a popular four-year-old Houston rock band that effectively combines folk, rock and pop influences to produce two crowd-pleasing albums, the answer is Qanda. Pronounced Q & A, singer-songwriter Jordi Baizan, guitarist Andy Zipper, drummer Dustin Wolfe and man of many roles Mark Dulworth combined forces to craft “Floe” in 2010 and “285” last year. One reviewer compared Qanda’s sound to John Mayer but noted the songs about love and loss are kept upbeat and heartfelt without being overwrought. Fans give the band high marks for thoughtful songwriting and having a cool sound. The group has an upcoming show August 31 at the Old Quarter Acoustic Cafe in Galveston.
Red Box Harbor
As one of Houston’s younger successful indie rock bands, Red Box Harbor has been building a fan base through resonate melodies that linger in the mind, well that and social media. The band has more than 22,000 Twitter followers and it takes the time to interact with fans. Jeremiah Turner, Zac Golden and Mark Schroeder formed the band while in high school in 2009, but they had no intention of being another typical boy band. Self-described as “new, fun and unique,” the band is proud of its different sound, which evolved from different music each band member listened to. Some of the group’s influences are The Spill Canvas, Mae and A Rocket to the Moon.
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Jeremy Shapiro is a freelance writer in the Houston area. While his trombone rendition of “Black in Back” isn’t terrible, his 10 years in journalism have left him better equipped to write about music, nightlife and other entertainment outings. His work can be found on Examiner.com.