Dallas never really gets the credit it deserves in Texas music. Houston and Austin are internationally renowned for their (very different) music cultures and influencing music all over the world. Dallas, though, tends to get the short-shrift: Dallas natives such as Roky Erickson and Stevie Ray Vaughan found their fame further down I-35, and few of the city’s favorite sons and daughters continued to call the city home as their careers took off.
That’s part of the reason that Pleasant Grove was one of the more underrated late nineties indie rock bands to garner critical acclaim. The band signed to German label Glitterhouse, recorded with Grammy-nominated and Dallas-native producers Stuart Sikes and John Congleton, and toured Europe, but split up in the mid aughts amid personal issues. And the fact that they called it quits while recording third album The Heart Contortionists didn’t help matters much.
“I’m lucky that no one ever turned their backs on me,” singer-songwriter Marcus Striplin says of the “difficult road” in his life that brought him down to Austin for a spell, ultimately causing the band to split.
When the band found that the personal issues that ended their first run had resolved themselves in 2013, they reunited. With Pleasant Grove back together, Striplin returned to the material on the aborted record to find “a contemporary album that happened to be recorded ten years ago.” They spent much of 2014 back in the studio working on overdubs and mixing, and are preparing The Heart Contortionists for release in early February. And this time, Striplin is pretty sure that Pleasant Grove is here to stay. “These guys are my brothers,” he says. “We’re family.”
“We want to get some new fans, and make music for another thirty years,” Striplin says. “I’m gonna call it—thirty years.”
Listen to “Lava” from The Heart Contortionists below.