Artist of the Week: Harts Of Oak

Each Wednesday (almost), Rocks Off arbitrarily appoints one lucky local performer or group "Artist of the Week," bestowing upon them all the fame and grandeur such a lofty title implies. Know a band or artist that isn't awful? Email their particulars to

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Photo by Tim Thumb
The gorgeous Houston Press Music Awards are stomping towards us, so from here until eternity (or until our editor tells us to stop), only musicians who have received nominations will be eligible for the Artist of the Week column. Exclusivity is so in, bro.

First up is Harts of Oak, nominated for Best Folk and brains behind The Old States, one of the summer's best soundtracks. Lots in the interview, including stag talk, digs at Arcade Fire and the potentially awesome thing they will say during their acceptance speech if they win.

Rocks Off: Tell everyone everything they need to know about Harts of Oak in exactly six words.

Harts of Oak: Atticus Finch and Boo Radley forever.

RO: Why not Hearts of Oak?

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HOO: Hearts of Oak is a Ted Leo album. Copyright issues. No one wants to deal with that.

A hart is actually another term for a stag, or a male deer. It has become our adopted logo. We also became very interested in the work of a friend of ours, Ren Sauer (check out her art, its awesome), which explored the connection between humans and their connection with wild animals and nature.

She has done a lot of artwork for us portraying the stag in different forms and we feel that the hart is a nice representation of our combined personalities as a group. And in any case, who doesn't love Bambi and puns?

Harts of Oak, "Satellite Heart"

RO: How long after you received your HPMA nomination was it before you started sending out emails and texts to the people who didn't make it, saying things like, "You guys totally got jobbed," but laughing behind the scenes?

HOO: Well, we called Arcade Fire immediately and told them about our nomination. They were jealous, to say the least. They can keep their Grammy. We have an HPMA nom. In all seriousness, we were honestly surprised and grateful for the nomination.

With so much incredible local music in Houston, we feel privileged to have been recognized by Houston Press and have so much support from our fans. We are still a fairly new band and are happy to see that our work is appreciated and that people are able to find something they can connect to in our music. Always support local music!

RO: Is it incorrect to assume that you wrote "Tuesday Morning" specifically for the purpose of me playing it for the wife as a way to get her to forgive me for saying something inconsiderate?

HOO: Absolutely. We are actually working on the next EP, Apology Songs for [Rocks Off]. There's gonna be some good ones in there. They will get you out of absolutely anything.

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Early Cuyler
Early Cuyler

I have an honest question, why is this band in the folk category?  I went to their bandcamp page, and while I really liked what I heard, I would not say that this is a folk band.  I heard a myriad of musical styles listening to their songs.  It really seems like "folk" has become the new "alternative" to describe a band that does not fit easily into one category these days.

Also, thank you for featuring this band, I look forward to hearing more.

Alex Skalany
Alex Skalany

I think modern folk or "new" folk music has become very inclusive of other genres and musical styles. A band today might take a traditional folk approach to the lyric writing and composing, but also include some of the sounds of rock, americana, etc. to keep it interesting and relevant. I think you'll find a lot of today's new folk bands are doing this as well as the great artists sticking to the roots of the genre. You've got Wilco, or the Low Anthem, with off the wall effects and sounds, but the basis of their songs still feel like a folk song. I don't think we can continue to categorize folk music as we did in the days of Guthrie and Seeger. Its continually changing as different generations interpret it and I think that is the beauty of music. Jazz is not as it was 70 years ago and in ten years, it will probably change again. The times are a-changin!

Thank you for your kind words and your support.

Early Cuyler
Early Cuyler

Thank you for taking the time to reply.  Well written as well, slight dig at the end aside.  One of my favorite albums is the Wilco/Bragg collaboration of Guthrie songs.  Forgive an old man stuck in his ways...


i love that album. i also love almost every wilco album except for the self titled wilco. this band wishes they were wilco but every band should wish they were wilco. just pure greatness. i like this band a lot actually, they seem funny and they don't sound half bad. 

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