Behold the Texas 30, Plus Albums 40-31
Before "The Underdog," Spoon's fourth and fifth albums put their underdog days behind them. Both Moonlight and especially Fiction placed them in the first rank of indie-rock groups coast to coast and established them for good as a music-festival favorite. As Britt Daniel flirted with punk ("Johnathan Fisk") and R&B ("I Turn My Camera On"), his own voice grew ever more unique, and drummer Jim Eno's hands ever steadier. Even today, two albums later, these records still account for at least half of Spoon's average set list.
35. Hayes Carll, Trouble In Mind (2008)
Trouble In Mind, written after Hayes Carll took a working vacation to Galveston's Crystal Beach, is one of the better beautiful-loser albums to come along in a while. Carll and his other characters can't ever seem to catch a break, but the situations they find themselves in make for some poignant stories and a couple of rousing country-rockers, chiefly "She Left Me for Jesus." After listening to Trouble In Mind, you either want to give Carll a hug or buy him a beer.
34. Eric Johnson, Ah Via Musicom (1990)
You know this is a Texas list if there's an album composed primarily (but not exclusively) of electric-guitar instrumentals. To these ears, Ah Via Musicom sounds slick and overproduced, emphasazing technique above everything else (especially emotion) and furthering a metaphor of the guitar as an extension of a cowboy's six-shooter that was already outdated in 1990. On the other hand, "Righteous" is pretty rousing. Albums like this are the raison d'etre of Grammy categories like Best Rock Instrumental Performance, which in fact "Cliffs of Dover" - all of you would recognize it if you heard it - won in 1991.