UPDATE: Chris from the Ghost of Blind Lemon pointed out some bands that I missed in the comments.  Good stuff, he is, as usual, more on top of it than me.

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With all the year-end lists circulating about, it got me started thinking about the great local stuff coming our way this year.  And it turns out there is a lot to be excited about.

Menkena – With You I’ll Travel

First on the list is the first to be released, the long-awaited debut album from shoegaze pioneers Menkena. There’s not a lot I can say about them that I haven’t already said (you might can tell I kinda like these guys), but they’ve been on many critic’s radars for quite some time, with their visually stunning shows and exceptionally promising singles, “Rocketships” and “Red in the Morning”.  This is the one album on this list I have actually heard and currently resides on my iPod, and I can assure you that the first two cuts are not a fluke.  It’s an album full of meditative and personal rock that’s not afraid to get rough when needed.

Dallas has become something of a haven for the shoegaze sound and with releases like this, it’s clear to see why.  It releases January 18th.  Get in line.

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Eisley – The Valley

I came a little late to the Eisley bandwagon.  I was aware of their radio hits “Telescope Eyes” and “Marvelous Things” when they broke through in 2003, but it was only in the last few years that I found myself listening to their albums Room Noises and Combinations and realizing that I may have a massive schoolboy crush on them.  Earlier this year they parted ways with Warner Brothers and announced their next album will be released in 2011, titled The Valley.

It’s not clear how going back to their indie roots will affect their new album, but I for one am excited to see what comes out.  Their first single, “Ambulance” is available online and if it’s any indication, I think we’ll be seeing a more mature, introspective, and self-assured sound coming our way.  The Valley releases March 1st.

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People on Vacation

Can you call a duo a supergroup?  It’s tempting to do so with People on Vacation.  Already garnering plenty of buzz, the duo of Ryan Hamilton from Smile Smile and Jaret Reddick of Bowling for Soup has already begun booking shows (the first in Dallas is at the House of Blues January 29th).

So how exactly does the collaboration of a pop-punk dynamo and a lo-fi singer/songwriter work?  According to an interview with Ryan, he said that their chemistry comes in combining Jaret’s ability to write pop hits and Ryan’s quirky indie sensibility to find a middle ground that is both catchy and unique.  And judging from their first single, “Better off Dead”, I can see his point.  It has a Fountains of Wayne feel that I, a long-time fan of FOW, can get really excited about.  More singles are on their way, though no word on an album date just yet.  Either way, you’ll be hearing much more about these guys by the end of 2011.

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The Blurries

(Seriously, you guys need some artwork!)

Debuting in 2007 as Slider Pines (a name the band apparently detested from the moment they came up with it), the band released their debut album, Road, Avenue, Railroad, then followed with an EP (cleverly titled “EP”) in 2008.  You might have noticed “Pulling Teeth” off that album in all the update videos on this site.  “Faster Than the Roads”, a personal favorite, will be featured in the film.

Since then, they have played fairly regularly while struggling through 2010 to come up with a new name.  They finally settled on The Blurries and began focusing on a new album, which they are currently recording.  How much of the EP will be in the new album?  Will The Blurries debut a new sound to set them apart from their former nom-de-plume?  Nobody knows.  What I do know is that Joey Shanks, previously of The Limes, is a stellar songwriter with an incredible lineup that’s one of the tightest live bands in town.  I don’t know when the new album will be gracing our ears, all I know is I hope they don’t keep us waiting too long.

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Centro-matic – Candidate Waltz

I saw these guys play the New Year’s Eve show at The Kessler and were stunned to realize that they’ve been around for 14 years.  There’s not a lot I can say about Centro-matic that hasn’t already been said by much more astute music writers than I, but after seeing them live I can tell you that their 14 years hasn’t softened them one bit, and there’s a lot of reasons to be excited that these elder statesmen are about to release their 10th album.

They’ve released a single and a video from their upcoming album titled “Only in my Double Mind”.

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The O’s – Between the Two

I know nothing about The O’s upcoming album except that it was produced by Stuart Sikes (The White Stripes) and have released a single, “We’ll go Walkin’”.  From the looks of it, we can expect it to be even more impressive than their debut album, We Are The O’s, which is saying a lot.  In the meantime, we’ll just have to settle for seeing them live, which they do constantly, so if you’ve never done so, your life is not fully complete.  Take care of that, would ya?

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Calhoun – Heavy Sugar

Okay, seriously, what are they putting in the water in Fort Worth these days?  Between these guys, The Orbans, Epic Ruins, and The Burning Hotels, we might be seeing that the talent pool has a deep end – and it faces west.

I’ve made no illusions that “Knife Fight”, the first single off their upcoming album, might be my favorite song in the world right now.  They’ve just recently released a new single, “Lioness”, which slows things down a bit but is still epic.  I don’t know when Heavy Sugar is set to be released, but I for one am waiting on pins and needles for every new tease they throw our way.

Did I miss anything?  Share it in the comments!