San Marcos Mercury | Local News from San Marcos and Hays County, Texas

January 20th, 2009
Tuesday reviewsday: Three local CDs

Scene Reporter

The music keeps flowing in San Marcos, from the clubs to the studios. Herewith, we review three CDs put out by local artists.

Various Artists
“SMTX 78666”

Robbie Doyen of Robbie and the Robots produced this compilation CD to raise money for Fibromyalgia research organization AFFTER, as well as create a collection of songs highlighting the different styles and musicians local to San Marcos. None of the artists were compensated for the songs on this compilation. This album is a strictly local charitable effort, right down to the cover art done by local artist Bonner Fowles depicting the San Marcos River in summer.

Featuring 19 different bands and solo artists, including a song from Robbie and the Robots, “SMTX 78666” is a grab bag of the individual styles and sounds native to San Marcos. Starting with the Jared Francis Band’s upbeat bar anthem “Texas Beer,” the album takes you on a tour of Texas sound. Scott Biram’s “Whitehouse Blues” would not sound out of place at a medicine show or early 20th century backwoods hoedown. At the opposite end of the spectrum is the hip-hop groove “Snake Eyes,” by the Word Association, a track with flows and mellow flavor reminiscent of Tribe Called Quest.

There’s something for everyone on this CD. Kallisti Gold’s distinctive dub style is nicely represented with their track “Lentamente,” and there’s a bit of Latin comedy thrown in Chancla’s self-titled track. A distinctive Indie slant is added by The Hatchets.

No sampling of San Marcos music genres would be complete without the obligatory Blues track, but Grant Ewing’s gravely lament “All Night Ramblin'” is hardly run-of-the-mill. Even local celebrities Eleven Fingered Charlie put their two cents in with the ska-esque song “Drag Me Down.”

From grisly bar rock to smooth and subtle acoustic ballads with an almost Celtic slant, “SMTX 78666” plays like a wine tasting of local talent. It’s a long overdue representation of the diversity of the “scene” here in San Marcos, and the fact that it’s for a good cause makes all that much more appealing.

To purchase ‘SMTX 78666’ online, go to, or to find out more about Robbie and the Robots go to

The Thrillbillies
“Watch This!”

This album starts big and bold. The first thing that hits your ears is the thick, bluesy guitar riffs, joined quickly by the light snare and the wailing vocals of singer Ed Cooper. In this album, the Thrillbillies have managed to create a real tribute to the Southern blues rock style they espouse.

A country twang rides in the tracks on this album, especially the slower (though still not quite slow) songs like “Dandelion” and “Red Cross,” which are almost reminiscent of the pop country from the early 1990s, a la Garth Brooks.

“Beersighted” is a song that could easily have fit into one of Buddy Holly’s sets, with it’s toe-tapping groove and bluesy vocals over a steady drumbeat. Each of the tracks on this album sounds like it was meant to be played at the local Juke joint, and you can almost see the people in jeans with beer in hand dancing around the intimate little stage where these sounds seem at home.

The Thrillbillies are Ed Cooper on bass and vocals, Ace Pepper on guitar and vocals, and Scott Leidecker on drums. Cooper does most of the writing for the band, but all the members have their own say in the songs, and their distinctive styles translate well from their live shows to the album medium. Their sound, unlike many other bands these days, doesn’t differ much from their studio performances to their live shows. They are definitely worth catching live, and they play pretty consistently at a couple venues here in town.

Check out for more information on when and where they’re playing, or to listen to a couple tracks.

Colin McDonald
“Close to Closure”

As a CD released under the name of a solo artist, Colin McDonald’s “Close to Closure” is surprisingly diverse in both the range of styles and the instruments that are used in the different tracks. McDonald is accompanied in vocals and instruments by Jon Napier, Jeff Pankenhorn, and Arthor Martinez. The overall vibe is one of laid-back, mild country and intimate Indie grooves.

According to McDonald, the song he considers most representative of this album is “Carry On,” a smooth lyrical piece underscored by an almost ambient background track.

Alternating between toe tapping, almost bluegrass southern jaunts and low-key Indie ballads, McDonald has managed to nicely showcase his musical adaptability on this album. Despite the changes in style, the songs mesh together almost seamlessly, weaving a solid tapestry of sound that is both calming and upbeat.

Few and far between are the albums that are actually more enjoyable as a complete experience played from the first track to the last, but “Close to Closure” fits that description perfectly. At the same time, listening to just one song is still satisfying in itself, a taste of the overall album is in each of the tracks.

Colin McDonald can be found at Tantra on a monthly basis, hunched over his guitar next to Jon Napier, crooning into the microphone and creating his own smooth sound to lull the listeners into his peaceful groove. He may even have some copies of this CD out for sale.

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0 thoughts on “Tuesday reviewsday: Three local CDs

  1. Thank you so much for the great review of SMTX 78666. So far I’ve sent almost $2,000 to AFFTER, and the CD has received decent regional airplay. And amazingly, after over a year since its release, it keeps selling and it keeps building in popularity. My father has fibromyalgia, and I would love to send many more checks to AFFTER so once again, thank you for your support.
    p.s. in keeping with the spirit of building the scene in San Marcos with this album, my track features a guest appearance from a member of the Word Association.

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