Tunes to croon

4 Houston-Based Indie Acts to Add to Your Summer Playlist

From pop-rock to art-pop to math-rock, the Bayou City's music scene has so much to offer.

By Rebecca Noel May 26, 2020

Houston has a long history of producing talented musicians—from greats like Kenny Rogers, ZZ Top, and, of course, Beyoncé, to newer stars like Megan Thee Stallion and Lizzo. Many lesser-known and emerging musicians continue to light up the city’s music scene, and, just like when it comes to Houston’s ever-rotating record of country, rock ‘n’ roll, and hip-hop, the Bayou City boasts an abundance of indie talent.

If you’re looking for a new soundtrack in time for summer, here are four Houston-based indie acts to make this time a little sweeter.

Image: Pam Ashley

Say Girl Say

Composed of Brigette Yawn and Suad Ihsan, this indie-pop girl duo has been serenading the Bayou City since 2012 and has since garnered critical acclaim for their eclectic sound. Following its first release, self-titled Say Girl Say, the group was recognized at the Houston Press Music Awards as the “Best Alternative Act” in 2015 and the “Best Weird Act” in 2016. The duo’s performed at music festivals like SXSW and plan to release its second album, Let My Hair Down, later in 2020. With lilting guitar accompanying haunting harmonies, the group is bound to become a staple in your music library.

Songs to jam to:

  • “Always Trippin.” The group’s latest release takes on a notably more pop-influenced sound than the group’s earlier offerings.
  • “Naked.” This acoustic and dreamy offering from the band’s first album is perfect for a picnic at the Menil or a lazy drive through the city

Image: Joseph Thomas


Islands of Pear

This indie-math rock group originally got its start in 2013 in Pearland as a duo before becoming a trio after a hiatus and releasing its EP, Capturing a Likeness, in 2017. Influenced by bands such as Bombay Bicycle Club and The Strokes, the group combines quirky rhythmic structures with liquid vocals to create a sound which is totally their own.

Songs to jam to:

  • “My Moon Has Disappeared.” This is the group’s most streamed song on Spotify and truly is one of its best. The eclectic indie-rock tune is reminiscent of bands like Two Door Cinema Club.
  • “Hot Vodka.” This is one of the band’s most unique and most charming tracks.
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Tee Vee

Tee Vee is the stage name of singer-songwriter Teresa Vicinanza, who has recorded and produced her art-pop music herself since releasing her first single in 2017. Her songs blend dreamy synth with introspective songwriting, touching on topics from nostalgia to struggles with mental health. Tee Vee’s music is at once upbeat and moody, catchy and poignant, dreamlike and unmistakably present. 

Songs to jam to:

  • “So Far.” This lightweight dance tune from her latest album, Tempest, blends ethereal vocals with a strong drum beat.
  • “Another Way.” Tee Vee’s trademark, candy-coated vocals accompany heavy bass and synth in this track, reminiscent of the ‘80s.

Image: Lauren Marek

Dollie Barnes

Dollie Barnes blends pop-rock with witchy vocals, markedly inspired by sounds of the ’60s and ’70s, while maintaining a current and innovative sound of its own. Named for lead singer Haley Barnes (Dollie is a family nickname), the group includes already established members of the Houston music scene, with veterans of local bands such as Buxton and Ancient Cat Society. Dollie Barnes’ first album, 2017’s Caught in a Phase, showcases the band’s jangly, retro sound and Barnes’ Stevie Nicks-esque timbre. 

Songs to jam to:

  • “Phantom Joke.” This song, perhaps the best on the band’s latest album, is a laid-back, syrupy ballad, perfect for a Sunday afternoon.
  • “Doesn’t It Matter.” This rock-heavy, quick-paced track is driven by Barnes’ eerie vocals and is sure to energize.
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