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The largely forgotten early-’70s music scene in Beaumont, Texas, produced some gems amid no small amount of commercially minded schlock. Credit Mickey Rouse, a recording engineer who dubbed his basement studio “Lowland,” for guarding his collection of dusty demos for nearly 40 years. Of the hundreds of demos in Rouse’s stash, the Numero Group—the Chicago revivalist label behind this year’s Eccentric Breaks & Beats—has chosen 22. That means the cream of a miscellaneous but rarely boring crop, and the resulting disc has a pleasant, consistently satisfying, and occasionally oddball vibe. The sound quality, even after digital transfer, is sort of remarkable, the three-dimensional mix always ceding room for a reverbed six-string in the distance or a bevy of white sha-na-na girls. Side-stepping the raunch that never lurked far below fellow regional acts like Janis Joplin and the Winter Brothers, the groups on Lowlands combine James Gang–worthy basslines with innocuous messages about solidarity (about half of the songs peddle platitudes about the importance of friends); the personnel as a whole seem rather like the sort of people who’d let you crash on their couch if you were headed from Port Arthur to Memphis in 1971. Mother Lion’s “Simple House” is an affirmation that the door’s always open, while Sassy’s “She’s My Daughter” is an excellent white-boy anticipation of “Isn’t She Lovely.” Elsewhere, you’ve got some pop of the fermented-curd variety; some doo-wop given the country-western treatment; some tracks that are little more than really, really good grooves. Given the commercial aspirations of the performers, it’s no surprise to see the bulk of the record composed of exercises in Imitation-by-songwriting—most notably the Graham Nash rip-off that is “Where’s Love Gone Today.” But the real pleasures of the album are the dusted-off small ones: the vocal flips on Insight Out’s “It Makes You Feel So Bad,” Next Exit’s rakish riff to “Take a Look at Your Friends.” The second half of the disc moves a lot more than the first (and is eminently sampleable; D.O.A.’s “Lady Tell Me Why” should surface on Q-Tip’s next record, if Q-Tip has a next record). In any case, the cohesion of the scene itself, and the likelihood that there was a lot of miscegenation between recording sessions, actually makes this feel less like a comp—the disc plays like a song-cycle from by a faceless group of supportive, welcoming, and probably mustachioed people. (That only one song is fronted by a woman—Linda Crowe’s “I Still Remember”—probably says more about Beaumont in 1970 than about Numero in 2010.) There are duds, if you care to spot them, but Lone Star is best approached as a joyous, just-this-side-of-kitsch oddity—one that should give groups like the Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros a lot to think about. And if, as I did, you first hear the record as you’re driving shoeless up the East Coast, wearing only a cowboy hat and shorts, with everything you own packed into a station wagon, then the music has its desired effect: It feels like going home.