Local Customs: Lone Star Lowlands

The second in our series of peeks into the world of regional studios hones in on Mickey Rouse's Lowland operation out of Beaumont, Texas. Long after the Bopper's plane crashed and the Winter brothers (Johnny and Edgar) and Janis Joplin split, Texas' Golden Triangle was home to a vibrant group of musicians, songwriters, and entrepreneurs just trying to make it in Houston, let alone the world. Holed up in a run-down strip mall, groups like Mourning Sun, Insight Out, Sage, Sassy, Mother Lion, Hope, Circus, and Boot Hill tracked out hundreds of demos, most of which were put on the shelf and left to bake in the southeast Texas heat. Until now.

The Numero Group has painstakingly audited every tape in the Lowland archives, selecting the best of the best (22 tracks on CD, 28 for the 2LP) for this peerless compilation. The songs themselves run the gamut: southern boogie rock, CSNY clone workups, British blues thunder, garage-psych hangovers, Morricone-tinged supper club instrumentals, yacht rock, and what can only be described as Bobby McFerrin fronting the Velvet Underground...each of them threaded to another in the way only a tightly-knit scene knits its output together. Forget bringing these treasures back to life—Lone Star Lowlands gives them the life they never had.