Much like Radiohead, Charlotte, North Carolina indie-pop act The Houstons released their debut album Still (MoRisen Records) in physical form on the first day of the new year after having a digital version come out last year. The Faircloth brothers - Justin and Matt - who founded the group have expanded its membership to five musicians since its founding several years ago, when they originally called themselves the Houston Brothers.
The result of this group effort is a mix of summery, introspective and mainly lo-fi indie-pop. Singer Justin Faircloth has a voice that sounds like a slightly gravely Rob Crow (of Pinback). Subjects touch on everything from reconciliation and death - check out the Isaac Brock-ish "Carry On" and "Acrobat" - to turmoil and acceptance.
The heart of the CD is the middle portion, the peak being epic energetic tracks like "Providence" and "Promise of Gold," which has shades of Pavement. Other tracks have keys or warm organ textures and gently crafted string sections, including "Frozen Ride." The intensely personal "Magnolia" is another standout.
There are a couple sleep-inducing folk-ish numbers near the end, but glistening electronics and brief harmonizing vocals keep those ears perked just long enough to finish the CD. In all, I'd highly recommend the Houstons' Still CD to those of you who dig the lo-fi scene, as it has more than a few enjoyable and easygoing indie-pop gems.