Back and to the Left
Along with the likes of Sunny Day Real Estate, The Promise Ring, and Jawbreaker, Texas is the Reason are co-founders of a brand of rock that would eventually become synonymous with edgy black hair, tight pants, Rivers Cuomo glasses, and overly-sensitive douchebaggery. But unlike the Saves the Days and Jimmy Eat Worlds of the emo universe, Texas is the Reason has always been one of the more respectable groups to like from the genre. While that might not be saying much due to emo's stigma, Texas is the Reason is without a doubt a very influential group. They combined power-pop, punk rock, and post-hardcore with mid-song tempo changes, drop-D tunings, monster breakdowns, and a more earnest brand of vocals and lyricism than your typical rock band would allow. Followers (mostly forgettable) from Sparta to Taking Back Sunday to most the Deep Elm and Revelation Records bands that would follow would point back to groups like Texas as foundations for their music.
Oddly enough, out of the countless emo bands I listened to throughout the course of the mid-to-late 90’s, Texas is the Reason is a group I never got in to all that much. Most of my friends did, and I know all about them. There isn’t any particular reason for my lack of fandom other than that I never owned their full-length album. As I listen to these somewhat familiar tunes now, there are a few that definitely catch my ear. "Johnny on the Spot" is a rollicking opener, setting the tone for the rest of the record, and "Back and to the Left" is a phenomenal hard rock anthem. Texas is at their best when they rock the fast-tempoed power chord jams, mixing distorted octaves and off-kilter drum beats. The downfall for most will be Garret Klahn's vocals, as his somewhat high-pitched yelp has me thinking Texas would have been better with with a different frontman as well. And while I do enjoy most of these songs, the slower, more "emo" tracks do feel dated at this point, and overall it feels like I missed the Texas boat by about fifteen years; it might be too late for me to jump on board now.