From the panhandle to the Permian basin, from the swamps to the plains, Texans have and always will keep it weird in their own ways.
Sure, being born and raised in Austin comes with its own inherent weirdness, but just because we coined a catchphrase and plastered it all over shirts and tote bags doesn’t mean that we don’t come from a long tradition of Texan weirdos. Here are some of my personal favorite weirdos from yours truly, Alejandro Rose-Garcia (Shakey Graves frontman).
1. The Flatlanders, “I Know You”
Texas weirdo royalty. Hailing from Lubbock, The Flatlanders are an accidental “supergroup” of songwriters consisting of Joe Ely, Jimmie Dale Gilmore and Butch Hancock.
These three friends grew up in the Texas plains honing their songwriting talents alongside each other and exploring the early cosmic side of weirdo Texas country/folk. In 1972, they went to Odessa Texas and recorded a demo with the idea of pushing Gilmore as a Nashville country singer, but the recording was shelved and thought unusable due to bad audio. 40 years later, the three-track tape was rediscovered and re-released as 2012’s The Odessa Tapes, a stunning raw testament to collective talents of these living Texas legends and a must hear for all weird roots music enthusiasts.
2. Khruangbin, “Maria Tambien”
If you aren’t hip to Khruangbin yet then you’re in for a treat. This mostly instrumental Houston trio blends various world funk music influences with relaxed tone and eye candy appeal. Everything about this band makes you want to roll your windows down and become the movie protagonist you were destined to be. Simplistic talented gold.
3. Peelander-Z, “Get Glasses”
Directly from the Z region of planet Peelander this punk/rock/Japanese/sci-fi/metal band has been blowing the wigs off of Austinites for 20 years. Led by the charismatic and prolific audio visual artist Kengo Hioki (Peelander-Yellow) this band will leave you craving steak, laughing, crying and hoarse from singing along.
Easily putting on one of the best shows I’ve ever been to in my whole life, Peelander-Z is so creative and inclusive you feel lucky to be instantly beamed to the surface of any planet they take you to.
4. Batty Jr., “Girl At The Bus Stop”
One of my favorite Austin bands fronted by one of my favorite weirdos on earth. This song by Batty Jr. showcases the poignant and strange songwriting of Zeke Jarmon and is also one of the first songs he ever played for me one strange night, at like 4 in the morning. I can hear him now” “Hey….wanna hear a song I wrote…” And this is what came out.
A perfect snapshot of love from afar, delicate and honest.
5. Cigarettes After Sex, “Apocalypse”
When I first heard this band they became a top contender for band name that most matches their sound. The twist for me was finding out that the lazy almost foreign female voice that I was so certain I was hearing actually belonged to a dude from El Paso… Familiar, nostalgic, sort of sad, love it.
6. Bubble Puppy, “Hurry Sundown”
Formed in San Antonio in 1966, Bubble Puppy are a testament to progressive trippy razor-sharp Texas guitar music. At first glance, the band is all dressed like they are headed to a renaissance fair, and with a name like Bubble Puppy you expect something cute to emerge from your speakers. But what you get is frantic, mystic, early psych and some of the hottest guitar licks around.
7. Paul Cauthen, “Cocaine Country Dancing”
Is it country? Yep. Is it disco? Yep. Is it a joke? Nope. Is it the best thing I’ve ever seen? Probably.
I met Paul Cauthen a few years back while we were both locked up in the infamous Belmont hotel in Dallas working on our next albums. He would rumbling home from the studio in his Lincoln late after a recording session FIRED UP. Ready to play and write off into the night.
His personality is only matched by his prolific performances and giant voice. I feel lucky to live in a world in which Big Velvet is driving around in a large gas guzzling vehicle mashing up genres and making people laugh and cry in the same instant.
A true entertainer.
Leean Vargas is an Editorial Assistant at Texas Lifestyle Magazine and an honors graduate of Texas State University with a bachelor’s degree in Public Relations.