Okay, so this is embarrassing. Not only is H-town rocker/all-around nice guy Arthur Yoria undoubtedly one of the best singer/songwriters in the city, but we’ve even done an interview with him…and yet I’ve somehow neglected to put him up here in the “Feature” section ’til now. Sorry about that, Arthur…
At any rate, going back to the quickie description above, Yoria is an insanely talented songwriter, with a gift for crafting romantic, desperate-sounding, yet decidedly in-your-face songs. The closest comparison would be to Austinite David Garza, but it sounds like that’s pretty much accidental (Yoria says he’s not real familiar with Garza’s music). There’s hints of other stuff in there, of course, like the buoyant, overdriven-guitars pop of The Stereo, the ’70s twinges of bands like the Push Kings or Teenage Fanclub, the high-pitched quirkiness of Eels, and even the delicate folkiness of Elliott Smith or Nick Drake. Put all together, it makes for a great combination, not to mention a fairly unique sound in Houston’s musical landscape. The only other person who can really come close is in fact a friend of Yoria’s, fellow popster Tody Castillo.
Yoria also happens to be one of the hardest-working musicians in Houston, apparently. He’s freakin’ everywhere, seriously, playing nonstop at everything from downtown music festivals to teeny-tiny coffeehouses (and the songs, to his credit, seem to do well in both settings). Luckily, it seems like it’s begun to pay off — he’s had songs pop up in episodes of The O.C., on MTV shows, and even a couple of indie flicks (Breaking Dawn and There Can’t Be Nothing; haven’t seen either one, sorry…), his tracks are doing well at, and he keeps getting nominated for Houston Press Music Awards (he won back in ’02). Watching him play around town over the past couple of years, it’s been hard to imagine the guy not making it big eventually…
If you can’t catch one of his shows, he’s got a fair amount of music floating around out there, as well. There’s the latest (and, in my opinion) best album, I’ll Be Here Awake, his similarly-excellent debut EP, 2003’s can you still look adorable, and a new Spanish-language EP, Suerte Mijo. That’s on top of a couple of tapes and CDs he put out with his old bands The Jeepneys and Lavendula (which weren’t bad, but pale in comparison to Yoria’s more recent stuff); the bands are no more, but the curious out there can occasionally find copies of the albums at places like Cactus or Sound Exchange.
I’d go for the “new” stuff, though, myself, or — better yet — go see the guy do his thing live. There aren’t that many musicians or bands out there about whom I honestly think, “holy crap, this guy’s going to be huge!”, but Arthur’s one of ’em.
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