Delving into deep-seated themes of self loathing, desolation, self-medication, the loss of loved ones and hopeful redemption, 12th House Rock is, as the title suggests, a rock-focused LP themed on transition– exploring the vast abyss of darkness just before the sun cracks upon the horizon. “A lot of the record was made in the late hours and early morning,” recalls Duarte . ”Those quiet moments alone when utter silence and my self-medication made it impossible to escape from my own thoughts. It was also from a specific time when I didn’t take care of myself and made bad decisions in all aspects of my life. These songs were a way out, temporarily anyway.”
Narrow Head formed in 2013 but became fully realised as a band in Houston with the release of their 2016 debut LP Satisfaction and the lineup of Duarte , guitarist William Menjivar and drummer Carson Wilcox . Playing in the Texas scene instilled a can-do attitude, an ability to explore several different ideas along with a strong set of DIY ethics, qualities that still form the basis of the band to this day. “Book your own shows, book your own tours,” details Duarte about the foundation of his musical viewpoint. ”I think that having other musical projects provided a scene for us to play too. Nobody else was looking at us, so we had to make our own scene.”
12th House Rock was self-produced and born of close to a hundred takes with no click track, vocal correction, drum samples or quantising, resulting in thirteen testaments to pulverising pop, clocking in just above 50 minutes. Initially only Duarte, Menjivar and Wilcox in 2018, the trio of old friends entered the studio with a batch of songs intending to write bass parts on the fly. “I’ve known Jacob and Carson since childhood and they are the most talented musicians– total prodigies,” states Menjivar. The three looked to build an LP that reflected current tastes as well as “music [they] looked up to as kids,” according to Menjivar, adding their own twist on the entirety of it.
Though the primary trio was present throughout the entire cycle, fate intervened on bass as the undeniable chemistry between the band and then strictly producer Ryan Chavez led to his inclusion in Narrow Head . The newly minted four piece would handle the bulk of the remainder of the LP, bringing in Erica Miller (Big Bite, Casual Hex) , vocalist/lyricist on “Delano Door,” and mastering guru Sarah Register (Big Thief, U.S. Girls, Protomartyr) to put the final touches on the record. Guitarist Kora Puckett (Bugg, ex-Sheer Mag) , who previously logged hours as a live member in the tours preceding the LP, would join Narrow Head as a full-fledged member following the album’s completion.
Despite whatever comparisons that can be made to guitar tone, mood, songwriting, timbre or virtually anything else, Narrow Head are quick to credit their native Houston, TX as the primary source for it all. “Houston is the greatest city on earth,” says Duarte emphatically. “People who know, know. In Houston, you have to give people a reason to pay attention to you.” With 12th House Rock , not only will Narrow Head have Houston’s attention, but the entire rock world as well, giving us one of 2020’s most impressive releases.