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Wednesday, April 11, 2007

2,000 Years of Progress

I've said it before and I'll say it again: you can never escape where you come from. It's not like I want to forget where I come from, but it's interesting how your past comes back into your life. Be it a chance encounter with someone who knew someone you went to college with or a college classmate who went to the same elementary school you went to, or something like this. It's strange, but it's like a magnet of life. I was reminded of this at a recent instore at Good Records.

After watching Goldenboy play a set, I was chatting with a friend of Tania's when along comes a gentleman politely passing out sampler CDs. He mentioned the label was new and based out of Houston. Looking at the address on the back of the sleeve, I saw that it was based out of the town I lived in from 1987 until 1998: Kingwood. Small world indeed.

The label, named Mia Kat Empire, is based in a suburb that, for all intents and purposes, is a good place to raise a family. But it's the kind of place that can make you want to explore what else is out there in the world when you graduate high school. There's nothing hip about the place. There are no record stores or bookstores. Live venues are rec centers and garages. Though there are always plenty of middle school and high school bands, it doesn't make for the kind of scene like the ones you find in Austin, Dallas, or even Houston for that matter.

Regardless, I still have many happy memories of playing in bands in that town, but there are plenty of reasons why I don't live there anymore. If anything, where I live now suits who I am now. So maybe that's why it's so mindblowing to me to find a label based out of my hometown that actually puts out quality stuff. There's no fixed genre, but it's a lot of what makes good indie rock. Meaning, there's a lot of energetic melodic stuff, but some softer, quieter material as well. There's no screamo, lame punk rock, or Weezer knock-offs. It's just something I can't distill into one catagory. And that's good.

Though most of the label's roster is not based in Kingwood, many of them are from fellow surrounding areas of Houston. Around here in Dallas, I hear all the time about bands from Austin, but not many from Houston. The only one that I've encountered in the previous years was Bring Back the Guns. Now I have a handful more to know about.

The crazy thing is, when I lived in Kingwood, the thought of doing a label was unheard of. The most bands would do was cut a few songs at a cheap studio in Houston. My friends and I thought releasing a 7" was cool, but the most we ever did was release cassette tapes. As far as I remember, it was a big deal when local band Temper Scarlet put out a CD. We're talking 1994-1997 here and it's funny to think about in hindsight.

The point to be made is how it doesn't matter where you are, you can create something. The chances of making something in a town that is worlds away from anything hip or cool are greater. I know this idea has been said many times before, but it's a point of pride to see something like this actually come to fruition.

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