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Paris, Texas

Though they're named for the East Texas town immortalized in the great Wim Wenders movie of the same name, this five-piece indie rock act actually calls Madison, Wisconsin home. Singer Scott Sherpe, guitarist Matt Managan, and drummer San Vinz formed the group in late 1997, and quickly recruited second guitarist Nick Zinkgraf and bassist Matt Tennessen. Soon after, the quintet recorded a self-titled debut EP (with production assistance from Rainer Maria Kyle Fischer) for Polyvinyl Records CD-single series.

The melodic punchy effort (which features the wistful, poignant "Without Even Kissing") established Paris, Texas as major players in the Midwest's thriving emo/indie rock scene, which also includes such acclaimed acts as their fellow Wisconsonians Rainer Maria and The Promise Ring, and label mates Braid. Like a lot of these bands, Paris, Texas's character comes from its emotional vocals and its guitars, which alternate between sweet jangle and overdriven power. But Paris, Texas also sets itself apart with some Blur-style Brit Rock power-pop and tinny New Wave guitar riffing. They create a terrific balance between great pop hooks and punk teeth.

In 1999, the band returned with their first full-length effort, So, You Think It's Hot In Here? It's an accomplished indie rock effort full of complex chord progressions and slightly melancholy sentiments, definitely an accessibly song-based affair, but one that isn't afraid to try new things. Especially affecting are the band's ballads, on which singer Sherpe's strained voice dips into private recesses of watery emotion while the band's dual guitars sigh and skip behind him. That album includes the almost delicate "Das Wolf."

And back came the Madison quintet for another lap in 2000 with yet another energetic burst of jubilant indie rock on the five-song Brazilliant EP, which features "Razor New Neighbors."

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