Texas Is the Reason - Do You Know Who You Are? (Cover Artwork)
Staff Pick

Texas Is the Reason

Do You Know Who You Are? (1996)

Revelation Records

Formed out of the krishnacore scene by Chris Daly and former Shelter guitarist Norman Arenas/Brannon, Texas Is the Reason was in the vanguard of the rapidly growing emo-genre of the mid-90s. Along with several other notable bands, they were the forerunners in a wave of acts who oft-times eschewed their more punk rock or hardcore pasts in lieu of more personal songs featuring tuneful, and often whimsical, melodies. With the success of a single and two split 7”s under their belt, Texas released their highly-anticipated, and only, full-length album in April of 1996.

Although typically filed under emo, Do You Know Who You Are? actually falls more in line with aggressive indie rock than the overwrought stylings normally associated with the later, mid-00s emo acts that succeeded them. From the first track, “Johnny on the Spot,” the listener is greeted with an solid sound that doesn’t strive to be overly loud or noisy. Garrett Klahn’s vocals are a prelude to emo-style vocals without the affected voice breaking or other traits which made the emo either loved or hated by music lovers.

Most songs on the album keep a fairly mild tempo but still manage to pack quite a bit of power behind them. "There's No Way I Can Talk Myself Out of This One Tonight (The Drinking Song)" doesn’t break too fast but still buoys the listener with crescendos of guitars that roll in and out of the bassline which anchors the track. Backing vocals also keep in line with the song while Klahn weaves in an out of time to add a dramatic effect.

The instrumental title track “Do You Know Who You Are?” adds a brief intermission before “Back and to the Left” crashes with such strength as to knock you out of your seat. Undoubtedly the most forceful song of the album, it is an outlier in its unbridled aggression. Whereas every other song is intricately woven and finely polished, “Back…” pulls no punches and makes no apologies.

“The Day’s Refrain,” the penultimate track on the album, is likely the closest to what most people would think of as emo. A gentle song comprising of wistful guitars and heartfelt lyrics, where even the big ending still comes off as tender and timid.

If that is the case, “Jack with One Eye,” the final track, comes in quietly and holds an almost surprisingly slow tempo throughout, all the while building in momentum and eventually taking the listener on a rollercoaster ride along crests and valleys, finally coming settling down into three sets of vocals, each starting slightly off from the others I time but so that by the third repetition they end up aligned. Slowly the song dwindles to nothing but the kick drum and a stuttering snare until it all stops.

And that was it for Texas Is the Reason. Amid the courtship of major labels, the band was falling apart internally and, after much strife, called it quits after their 1997 European tour. Members would go on to other acts, most notably Chris Daly went on to drum for Jets to Brazil, Blake Schwarzenbach’s follow-up act to Jawbreaker. Although the band has played several one-off shows for notable events or good causes, there appear to be no plans for a full-time reunion.

For now, we can enjoy the spark that Texas Is the Reason lit in the underground music scene. For many punks, indie rockers, and nascent emo kids; this band created a classic album that, twenty years on, still holds up against, and even surpasses, its modern-day peers.