The Houston Music Blog section of the Free Press Houston.

Friday, June 27, 2008

The Music Crumudgeon's preview for the Week of June 27th 2008

posted by Ramon Medina - LP4 @ 12:01 AM

Another brief round-up kids. I'm still recovering from Terrastock.

THIS WEEK'S SPOTLIGHT

Saturday, June 28
Music Makes Change
Benefit for Brazos Abiertos, featuring
Young Mammals, The Mathletes, Earnie Banks, The Wild Moccasins, News on the March, The Holly Hall, Piano Vines, & The Eastern Sea
@ Avant Garden (7PM; $10)
It's like a pummeling of solid bands I mean 8 bands? That's a hella lotta music for a mere $10 and it's a good cause. Young Mammals are the reigning pop kings, The Mathletes return after a long hiatus, The Wild Moccasins will keep you smiling, News On The March will pair well with a Lone Star or a Shiner, The Holly Hall will finally peep their heads out after too long a time away from the stage, and Piano Vines, Eastern Sea and Earnie Banks will surely keep the good times rolling. So help out a good cause and have a blast at the same time.


ALSO THIS WEEK

Friday, June 27

Super Happy Funland Benefit
featuring
John Muzak, Whitman, Treasure Mammal (Phoenix), and The Annoysters
@NOTSUOH
Wooo! Just got this from John Muzak! Sounds pretty awesome and it's to help SHFL!


The Riff Tiffs, Lisa's Sons, The Ton Tons, Fat Tony
@ Warehouse Live

On again off again faves The Riff Tiffs headline but for me it's the Ton Ton's who are the band to see here. You know the score by now amazing vocalist and a monster guitarist. ROCK!

Robert Earl Keen @ Sam Houston Race Park
Texas singer songwriter extraordinaire and I have to admit, no matter how many times I see it, the cover to his album Picnic still cracks me up.


Saturday, June 28


Hollywood Black (CD release), The Goods, Tambersauro
@ Walter's on Washington

CD release woooo but also Tambersauro's prog-o-rama goodness!

Get Busy!, featuring
DJ Jester the Filipino Fist, Ernest Gonzales, & Bad Knives

@ The Backr
oom (The Mink; 9PM)
Let the dancing begin!

The Drunks
@ Rudyard's
OK, I mean, really, with a name like the drunks do you really need an explanation?


Stone Temple Pilots, Black Francis
@ Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion

STP hasn't aged very well to my ears while the solo Black Francis always struck me as intermittently brilliant. So that with $8 Miller beer I'll skip this one but hey it's still worth a mention.


Sunday, June 29

Zaika (Tom Carter & Marcia Bassett), Future Blondes
@ The Mink (Backroom)
This was just added recently and what a treat! Zaika is Tom Carter (Charalambides, Mike Gunn) and Marcia Bassett (Double Leopards, Zaimph, Hototogisu, UN) Future Blondes opens. If you are a regular reader of Signal to Noise magazine this is required attendance.

The Defenestration Unit
@ Discovery Green Park

Will TDU keep the rain away? We will see?


This Week's Cactus in Stores
Friday, June 27 - The Hates (6PM)
Friday, June 27 - Reckless Kelly (noon)

Saturday, June 28 - Caroline Herring (6PM)


AND DON'T FORGET
SECRET SATURDAY SHOWS
@ THE SHADY TAVERN

Everyone's favorite musical pot luck

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Dig it! Tonight's Recession Thursday with Future Blondes, //Tense//, Voidmate, Balaclavas, & A Thousand Cranes

posted by Ramon Medina - LP4 @ 6:46 AM

This week we're having celebrity Hands Up Houston's mystery poster MOOBS will do the honors... Take it away MOOBS.

Future Blondes: In the future, Blondes bring the promise their stereotypes imply through a crucial brew of amibiguous lazer like musical truths affecting their audiences palate like light sabers through butter. This incantation should only be invoked by the spiritually prepared and the sonically seasoned ears of a sage floating over humanity like a cloud bringing rain (slowed, heavy, filled with potentiality, and ready to pour).

//TENSE// : Regarless of your minds-eye's literal nomenclature this band sets the precedence for all forms of action yet to be defined e.g. VERBS. //TENSE// is not just a name, but rather the vehicle for action. These guys aurally and physically remind me of what preceeds action; POTENTial Energy coiled like a slinky under an elephants foot. it doesn't hurt that seemingly this energy is wrapped in cellophane like crack and as easily accessible to masses. Im glad Jim Jones didn't have packages of //TENSE// to disseminate.

BALACLAVAS: TWO MAN ENTER, ONE MAN LEAVE. If you're not interested in having your soul disassembled and handed to you re-wrapped in an aluminum muffler i suggest you not enter their world. They'll caress your sweet spot as they simultaneously shank you as they sing your favorite nursery rhymn in a round.

VOIDMATE: a hand to hold in the dark, a car to let you in on the freeway, or a soul to take your place at the gallows? They fill holes as fast as Dubba's pen creates them. The audic equivalent of checks and balances. Its {already} in your head, filler.

A Thousand Cranes: "A Thousand Cranes through a thousand brains filled with love they now contain what remains when sincerities are maintained and shared with bodies paired by emotion layered by those who dared"


(Bonus Thousand Crane Description by MOOBS!!!! Well, he thought that's all I asked him to do at first. So, since he bothered to write it why not post it eh?)

A Thousand Cranes is a music collaborative formed in Houston, Texas. The two founding members of A Thousand Cranes are Travis Kerschen (Vocals and general Tom Foolery) and Shawn Rameshwar (Noise, drones, and darkend cynicism). While Shawn Rameshwar was previously apart of various non-mainstream independent groups in and around Houston Texas.

Both members shared a common bond by way of a mutual appreciation for Pharoah Sanders and Alice Coltrane. They continued into the light with a mutually agreed upon vision that A Thousand Cranes be grounded in the sacred, experimental, jazz, and noise influences they shared.

With a grounding in the sacred, jazz, and noise influeces shared by both members A Thousand Cranes set out to discover avenues to the induction of meditation as a means to pull their audiences into the vortex of shared human experience. This lofty ambition has manifested
itself in the use of generally accepted and imprinted modalities of the human psyche in an attempt to facillitate the divergence of time and space with the simultaneous convergence of humanity with the divine, all within the context of a sacred performance piece.

A Thousand Cranes intends the utilization of universally imprinted archetypes of the human psyche (e.g. fire, drones, chanting, meditation, love, and sex) will offer their audiences a common ground and recognizable pathways to rationalise the abandonment of their own
perception of reality and the inherent dogmatic noose consensual reality creates around the neck of man.

A Thousand Cranes is currently experimenting with conceptulization processes and tinkering with their inability to love themselves.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Music with Jameson & Lone Star: special Terrastock 7 edition

posted by Ramon Medina - LP4 @ 5:16 AM

Terrastock is not just a festival, it’s a family. There’s a feeling of community that you won’t get anywhere else and you can’t help but feel caught up in it all. This isn’t Boneroo, Lollapalooza, or Austin City Limits. People aren’t here for spectacle or to be seen – they are here for the music and the community that surrounds the psych genre whose umbrella is the zine Ptolemaic Terrascope. That sense of community extends from the biggest acts to the smallest. This is, when you get down to it, nothing more than a big house party at (founding editor of PT) Phil McMullen’s pad. The pad this year just happened to be in lovely Louisville, Kentucky in the Mellwood Arts and Entertainment Center - a former factory turned multi-use facility.

Perhaps it’s the Terrascopic Family vibe but I swear the artists were all the nicest and most generous people you’d ever want to meet and not an ounce of pomposity to be found anywhere. Where else can you sit around and chat about that cool nightclub back at the Brownsborough Motel with one of your musical heroes or talk to someone whose music you just discovered a few months ago then have them actually greet you by name at the merch table later that evening? You greet artists you haven’t seen a while with a great hug and meet new kindred spirits (all the while reminding them not to forget Houston on their next tour). And the sense of community isn’t just the artists but the fans were just as wonderful (special shout out to the kids from room 285) and these fans came from far and wide. It was pretty telling when Wayne Rodgers of Major Stars asked “Who here is from Louisville?” and perhaps two people raised their hands. This wasn’t a local event, this was international - an international event brought together from a love of music.

And that music was phenomenal. A short cross section of the bands would dizzy anyone. Off the top of my head? OK. Damon and Naomi played a gorgeous and beautiful set that was amazing plus, I just love Naomi’s distinctive phrasing on the bass. The pairing of Maski Natoh and Helena Espvall was incredible. I was particularly entranced when Espvall would play her cello through a flurry of effects giving an otherworldly quality that would play beautifully off of Batoh’s strong and emotive guitarwork. Tara Jane O’Neil’s performance was inspiring. I’m always stunned how as a solo performer she is able to be able to use that negative space around her and be able to make music that is at once wrenching and lonely but also joyous and communal. MV & EE and The Golden Road put on a heavy and heartfelt performance, despite sound issues, that wasn’t merely giving the audience a note by note rendition of their recorded work but clearly expanding the material to great effect. Mono’s performance showed why their careful and patient arrangements really have to be experienced live. The impact of the sound waves hitting you, surrounding you, and carrying you along is simply incredible. That’s just a smattering of bands; there are a hell of a lot more that deserve mention but it's just too overwhelming. Hell, just this morning before I left I heard an incredibly textured impromptu set by Windy Weber (Windy & Carl) and then 15 minutes of Insect Factory’s sonic explosion. That’s just poking my head in for a few minutes before making my way out of Louisville on a ride back to Texas. As I was leaving, a friend shrugged and said “Well, I guess it’s back to the real world huh?” and I nodded my head and sadly agreed.

Terrastock Photo of Mono courtesy of Tracy Popp on Flickr (Link)

Other Terrastock 7 Images from Opurt2007 Day 1 (Link) and Day 2 (Link)

Labels: , Terrastock 7

Friday, June 20, 2008

A quick and Dirty Music Crumudgeon's preview for the Week of June 20th 2008

posted by Ramon Medina - LP4 @ 12:01 AM

(Apologies, I am vacation so this is a very quick and abbreviated preview. So check out Skyline and Space City Rock for shows I may have missed. Oh and don't forget about ongoing free shows at The Shady Tavern on Saturday)

THIS WEEK'S SPOTLIGHT
It's a tough call but I gotta go with Keiji Haino


Saturday, June 21
Keiji Haino (acoustic set)
@ Richmond Hall (The Menil Collection, 1500 Richmond; 7:30PM, free)

Sunday, June 22
Keiji Haino (electric set)
@ Barnevelder Movement/Arts Complex (2201 Preston; 7:30PM, $13/$10)

Haino has been making some of the most adventurous music out there. Be it his more quiet contemplative pieces or his loud and densely layered work, it's simply great stuff and that's just his recordings - this will be live and in the flesh! Also, I believe this may be his first Houston performance and that alone should be a thrill to most music loving Houstonians. Sadly I'll be out of state and miss out but I suggest you be adventurous yourself - especially if you haven't heard anything by him - and take your pick: quiet and free or$13 and amplfied. You can't go wrong.


Friday, June 20

The Red Dons/The Estranged/Something Fierce/Teenage Kicks
@ Rudyard's

More garage and pop punk than the doctor recommended dose.

Anarchitects / Lady Binx
@ The White Swan
I don't know anything about Lady Binx but if you want to kick it with the finest of the old school you can't do better than the Anarchitechts.

Ladyheat/The Tontons/Piano Vines/Earnie Banks @ The Backroom (The Mink)
Tontons are so good that if you haven't seen them, I can only shake my head in pity.



Saturday, June 21
Faun Fables / The Invincible Czars / The Judas Bear @ The Backroom (The Mink)
Austin's instrumental Czars are coolness. Judas Bear also makes us all giddy.

Riverboat Gamblers / Amplified Heat
@ Rudyard's
Let there be rock!

STARBUCKS MIXED MEDIA Music Series presents:
Fucking Transmissions
@HFAH (8PM)
Wooo free Fucking T's at the MFAH . For once, being flat ass broke is not so bad a thing.


Sunday, June 22
Tom Waits
@ Jones Hall
I seriously doubt I have to tell you who this is. I'd also seriously doubt any tickets are left for sale by now.

Real Live Tigers / Redbear. / Sabra Laval / Cory Derden
@ Notsuoh
It's Sabra! I need say no more.

Monday, June 23

Rusted Shut / Psychedelic Horseshit / Fabulous Diamonds / The Wiggins @ The Mink
Are you as freaked about the Wiggin's record release as I am? I hope so! It has to rock! So, if heading down to pick up one of the 300 copies isn't incentive enough Psychedelic Horeshit and Rusted Shut will have to hunt you down and make you reconsider.

Thursday, June 26
Matt & Kim/The Death Set/Team Robespierre/Reggie Watts/Jonah Ray @ Walter's on Washington

OK so sue me there is something I really enjoy about the happy happy joy joy music of M&K. I mean even songs about being hassled by cops are peppy.

Recession Thursdays, featuring
///Tense///, Future Blondes, Balaclavas, & Voidmate
@ Numbers
This one is all awesomeness...more info this Thursday

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Tonight's Recession Thursday!! 19 June 2008

posted by Ramon Medina - LP4 @ 12:01 AM

Our on-going weekly post where we shamelessly hype our own weekly badass local showcase because when The Free Press puts on event, you know you need to be there.

TONIGHT!
The Ton Tons - This band is a monster. Between Asli Omars breathy vocals and Adam Martinez powerful guitar work the band packs a punch like no other band in Houston. At its best, the band sneaks up on you with Asli's vocals then knocks you out with a heavy ass riff.

Kam - Continuing with the brilliant femme singers is Kam who can jump from style to style with so much grace and skill that to describe her within the context of a particular genre would be unjust.

Arthur Yoria - And speaking of adventurousness, Yoria has been hauling it around on a wheelbarrow. Houston's pop prince is releasing 12 downloads through October on arthuryoria.com and letting you pick the 10 best for his upcoming release. That's nutters in the best sense of the word.


Elaine Greer - And speaking of nutters, we're nutters for Elaine Greer's clever melodies, engaging vocals, and sharp songcraft. Alone or with the Holly Hall, she's one of the many girls in Houston putting the boys to shame. Or to put it another way we think she's neat.

Hueman (formerly Snowshoe & Lewis) - A smooth sophisticated crew who call their style "melodically soulful alternative rock" and their skillful combination of various styles bear out the claim.

Woozy Helmet - These clever Austin indie rockers put on great shows that are always bounding with energy and guiltless joy. Woozy is how most of us feel after one of their shows.

Friday, June 13, 2008

The Music Crumudgeon's preview for the Week of June 13, 2008

posted by Ramon Medina - LP4 @ 12:01 AM

THIS WEEK SPOTLIGHT
GET DOWN WITH DC/NAIROBI POP


Saturday, June 14
Extra Golden
@ The Orange Show

Oh man, I have had a rough week and the heat in Houston hasn't been particularly kind. So, I'm listening to Hera Ma Nono and it's exactly what I needed. Ahh, the clean African pop guitar lines and Opiyo Bilongo's gorgeous vocals go down like a tall iced glass of water with a lemon and a sprig of mint. It's music that's refreshing and rejuvenating. It makes sense given the group's casual formation and comeback from a tragic loss. It all starts with a dude from Washington DC (off doing his Doctoral thesis on Kenyan music) who meets up with a bad ass Benga band. They team up as a four piece (two from the band Golden and two from Orchestra Extra Solar Africa) and before you know it they have a pretty sweet little debut (Ok-Oyot System). The album does well, gets solid reviews, and then tragedy strikes as the original singer/guitarist (Otieno Jagwasi) succumbs to liver disease. The remaining members assume it's all over until they get a call to play a festival and they regroup with Opiyo Bilongo as the new singer and then proceed to crank out a new album. Kind of a whirlwind for a band that's only been around 4 years and that's not going into the story about the Kenyan police. But their shaggy dog story wouldn't matter if the music wasn't worth your time and in this case, even with the steep $15 ticket price, I'd say it is.


ALSO THIS WEEK

(Note: Due to that thing we call a day job this is a pretty quick and dirty list. Notice the exponentially shorter descriptions and lack of band links? So odds are I missed some cool show. So, make sure to check out some of the other fine blogs like Skyline and Space City Rock just to name two)

Friday, June 13


Riddle of Steel/Sharks and Sailors/Motion Turns It On
@ Walter's on Washington
"[Crom] is strong! If I die, I have to go before him, and he will ask me, "What is the riddle of steel?" If I don't know it, he will cast me out of Valhalla and laugh at me. That's Crom, strong on his mountain!"

Thus spoke Conan and if you are going to quote that masterwork of American cinema you'd better deliver the goods. Unfortunately, St. Luis' Riddle of Steel would be hurled from Crom's mountain for the middling rock found on their myspace. As I am writing this the classic Sharks and Sailors dirge Topple The Pillar is playing on my headphones - truly a song pleasing to the battle strained ears of Conan's mountain god. Rickshaw also is a song so good that Crom himself would have fallen and wept between the triple assault from the bass, guitar, and drums. Truly this is a band worthy of a Robert E Howard. Crom's appreciation for fusion and prog is unknown though I could see him diggin' Miles Davis' Big Time. So, I'd say he'd be pretty much guaranteed to also dig Motion Turns it On who are wisely releasing a live album. Binding them in a studio should be punishable by death and if you don't believe me the check it out tomorrow. Their proggy jammy virtuosity is a sight to behold and any initial complaints I had of aimless pointless jamming have long ago vanished. The band is skilled enough to play excited circles around most bands but also smart enough to know they have to take you somewhere with each piece. So jump on in, I'm calling shotgun!

Guitars / Black Black Gold / Welfare Mothers / DJ Suzi Puke
@ River Oaks Theatre (12AM)
It's Friday the 13th; do you know where your garage fan is? The River Oaks theatre. Damn straight BBG kick it 60's style and the Mothers play it about 30 years later but it's all good. Bonus is Domokos of Pink Cloud fame will be DJing.

Lunafest, featuring
Wolves At The Door, All In Your Head, Heist at Hand,
The McKenzies, The Television Skies, Yoko Mono, Zechs Marquise, & Thavius Beck
@ Warehouse Live
I don't know dick about Lunafbut I do know The McKenzies can rock the indie pop like nobodies business.

Saturday, June 14

Black Math Experiment (DVD filming)
@ The Backroom (The Mink
)
Attention people who love to get in front of any camera! Black Math Experiment is shooting a DVD. Get your devil signs and your "Hi Moms" on.

Secret Saturday Show
@ the Shady Tavern (2-5pm Free)
Yo it's free, Holmes! Go!


Sunday June 15

Dysrhythmia / AWAKE / Act of God
@ Rudyards
This is so new that it's not even on the Rudz Calendar yet but Matt Brownlie got really excited about Act of God playing and I can vouch for Awake being amazing. So here's to adding last-minute shows!


Boats!/Teenage Kicks/The Takes /Carpolites
@ The Backroom (The Mink; 10PM)

Teenage Kicks and the Takes. Yes! I smell a poppy garage show! So, I'm gonna guess that the boats are not Yacht rock!


Monday, June 16


The Gold Sounds/Ladyheat
@ Boondocks
Gold Sounds really and truly killed me a few weeks ago at the Mink. I suggest you check them out.


Hollywood Blues/The Monocles
@ The Backroom (The Mink)
MONOCLES MONOCLES MONOCLES!!!!


Justin Townes Earle (in-store)
@ Cactus Music (6PM)
Get yr Free on!

Tuesday, June 17


Champion! / Sew What /Cory Derden /Lenny Briscoe
@ The White Swan
Acoustic favorite Sew What, the unstoppable Lenny Briscoe, and those weird plastic bottles of beer they serve at the white swan means I know where you should be on Tuesday.


Wednesday, June 18


The Roots/DJ Cipher
@ Warehouse Live

Yes we know you love your drummer and all but you know if ?uestlove asked to sit-in, you'd kick your drummer out like yesterdays garbage.


Brody's Militia / Humanicide / Dissent / PLF / Satannabis
@ The White Swan

If the Tuesday show was too mellow for your taste how about sweaty hardcore at the white swan tonight with those funky beers.



Thursday, June 19


Cryptacize / Black Snake and Kangaroo / Jenny Westbury
@ The Backroom (The Mink; 7PM)
The chaotic noise to be rendered from BS&K alone demand your being here. If that isn't enough note that this may be your last chance to see Jenny Westbury before she leaves for Seattle on her visionquest involving bears.



Eliza Gilkyson (in-store)
@ Cactus Music (6PM)
F
to the R to the E to the E.



Recession Thursdays, featuring
The Ton Tons, Kam, Arthur Yoria, Elaine Greer, Snowshoe and Lewis, & Woozyhelmet
@ Numbers

Merr, in a way I'm glad I'm in Kentucky this week because I'd hate to have to choose between this and the show at the mink. (More deets on this one on Thursday)


Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Tonight's Recession Thursday!! 12 June 2008

posted by Ramon Medina - LP4 @ 10:48 PM

The Delta Block - This trio demands the masses "wake up!" and the band (John Newton, Dominique Withoff, and X) is going to get through that thick skull of yours with politically charged lyrics atop punk, angsty, and loud riffs! (You may have known them before as MK Ultra.)

Basses Loaded - 6 strings are for wusses. You take three guitars in a band and what do you get? The Eagles. Fuck that! Take three basses and what do you get? Basses Loaded. But Mike, Lee, Ben, the other Mike's three bass and one drum attack is much more than just shtick - they rock with great songs and rip on their instruments. Bonus points: swiping the Jimmy Page bow gimmick.

The Fucking Transmissions - More than just a rap group (with members of Basses Loaded playing Bass and Drums), they are a party! Not just any party - the party. Not just the party - the motherfucking party. Not just the motherfucking party the motherfuckingest of motherfucking partys! Feel that? That is you ass shaking, don't deny your ass! Get on the floor and move that thing!

Satin Hooks - Kerry and Lucas - two indie rock badasses always in search of a drummer. Through Lucas' bass-work, Kerry's sinfully underrated rhythm guitar, and their raucous live shows, the band seems to cause even the best drummer to scurry from the state in fear.

Shina Rae - Hey you in the back. Less talking, more dancing! Electronic dance diva who pulls every rabbit out of her hat with her latest album will challenge even the most pathetic wallflower onto the dance floor. Bonus: DJ Witness has her back on her live shows.

Labels:

Monday, June 9, 2008

Music with Jameson & Lone Star: French Kicks, Young Mammals, & Hearts of Animals @ Walter's 06 June 2008

posted by Ramon Medina - LP4 @ 12:01 AM

Well, that's quite the news to get in the afternoon. Hands Up Houston announced that Frightened Rabbit had canceled their performance due to their van breaking down. That was a shame as I really love this Scottish band's droll and energetic Sing The Grays album and it sounded like they might translate pretty well live and possibly give the Dimes a run for their money. The upside though was that the always solid Hearts of Animals was called-in to pinch-hit at the last minute - you couldn't have ask for a better resolution.

Now, I don't know about you but when I drove up I was immediately overwhelmed by a swarm of headlights ahead of me and behind me! I thought, "What the fuck is with the traffic on Washington Avenue?" Then, when I turned the corner, I saw the unspeakable. A sight as frightening and improbable as turning that same corner and seeing Big Foot and Fulad-zereh fucking on the street while Abraham Lincoln stood watching and smoking a fattie. There, running back towards Washington Avenue with slicked hair and a pristine white shirt, was a valet! Yes, you got that - a fucking valet on Washington Avenue! I then rounded the block and it turned out everyone was just as confused as I because the carpark in front of Walters had open spots. Incredible! Then as I got out of my car some dude on his cellphone asked, "Is this valet parking here?" Somehow, between thinking "Are you fucking with me?!!" and "If you have to ask...", I mustered a cranky "If you're looking for valet parking you want douche-central across the street." I'm sure the bouge motherfuckers who constantly harass Walters with noise complaints are more than happy with the new desirable clientèle at the Pearl but, for the rest of us, all we can do is shake our heads and think poor poor Washington Avenue.

Thankfully, inside the doors, Hearts of Animals had already taken the stage. Over the PA, beats and backing tracks from Mlee's Powerbook pumped while her guitar layered lovely finger-picked notes above them and suddenly the gentrification convention outside didn't matter anymore. The familiar melodies of her older songs (as well as that new one that I love with Cley of the Young Mammals) are always welcome sounds and the performance was exactly what you'd expect - inspiring. The excited voices of some new-to-HOA women standing in line to the bathroom seemed to confirm that summation. The Superunison folks couldn't have been smarter in picking her to fill-in.

The Dimes followed and after a few "Let's go team!" hand slapping they proceeded to slash and hack through their set in that fashion we're so used to seeing and likely take for granted here in Houston. It's the Dimes: Iram pounding the drums while stealing the spotlight from behind the kit with his charming impish performance, Cley dancing with his guitar in a manner suggesting he'd do a good job of wrestling a giant rubber snake in some crazy B movie, and Carlos (all smiles) leading the charge with his voice while his rhythm guitar, along with Jose's bass, keep it all from sprawling into chaos. They are a world-class live band and the new songs just show great and unique they are as a band. This is one Houston band that - high gas prices or not - needs to get on the road, take it to the people, and show them how it's done.

Closing it all was Brooklyn's French Kicks. The performance was sharp, the sound was crisp, and the harmonies and instrumentation were gorgeous. And while some songs are wonderful and will make you break-out in an uncontrolled admiring smile, the simple fact remains that the French Kicks are a very good band. I have been spinning their new album and enjoying some of its songs quite a bit but, here is the rub, both the Young Mammals and Hearts of Animals are better and more consistent songwriters and, when it comes to a live show, the electrifying Young Mammals energy is unbeatable. The latter may not be particularly fair to French Kicks given what they do but, honestly, as their performance continued, I did get that "OK got it!" feeling by the last third. God, that sounds awful because it makes them sound as if they were bad but they weren't; the bar had simply been raised so high that even a band of their talents simply couldn't overshadow what had preceded. But that was just me as everyone else in the packed crowd clearly loved it from the first note to the last. So, ne vous inquiétez pas French Kicks - it's not about who doesn't salute, it's about who does.


Hearts Of Animals
Pinch-hitting for the Scots
The Young Mammals
Breakin' out in a Cold Sweat The French Kicks
Basculez la maison



Links:
Frightened Rabbit (Link)
Hearts of Animals (Link)
Young Mammals (Link)
French Kicks (Link)


More pictures on my Flickr (Link)

Labels: , ,

Friday, June 6, 2008

The Music Crumudgeon's preview for the Week of June 6, 2008

posted by Ramon Medina - LP4 @ 12:01 AM

THIS WEEK'S SPOTLIGHT
CRAPPY AND SO SO POSTERS FOR GREAT SHOWS



Saturday, June 7
The Guilty Hearts/Born Liars/The Welfare Mothers
@ Rudyard's

I know what you are thinking. What the hell does that poster have to do with any of the bands playing? I honestly have no clue. So far, this is my pick for poster least likely to convey anything about the bands playing. If I sound a little irked about the poster it's because this show is just too goddamn good a bill. Jeez, LA's Guilty Hearts play a dirty bluesy rock and roll that will make even the most cynical bastard dance his ass off. Listen to "Turn it Off" on their myspace with its raw guitar, dirty vocals, and distorto farfisa. I dare you to try to fight the urge to move your ass! Damn that's good stuff. What can I say about Born Liars that we didn't say in our recent article - they are the shit. They are a band that brings the mother fucking party. All you "fucks with beards" get off your ass and catch the real deal. The new 7" rips (don't be fooled by that crappy MP3 compression on their myspace) and live your ears will bleed, your ass will shake, and and you will lose 10 pounds just from the sweat they generate in an audience. The Welfare Mothers may have dumb names like Smash Gordon on their Myspace but don't be fooled - it's Houston rock royalty with ex-members of Sugar Shack and the Mirrors. They rip it up and they also have a brutally good single. "Long Brown Hair" has been wearing out my needle for the last few week and, with its sweet guitar and snotty vocals infecting my brain, it's reached the point where I found myself humming the riff at the check-out line to everyone's annoyance. So don't try to figure out what the fuck two axe wielding cardinals have to do with one of the best garage line-ups you could imagine, just go and thank me later.

Friday, June 6
French Kicks/Frightened Rabbit/Young Mammals
@ Walter's on Washington
OK this poster isn't so much crappy as it is uninspired. Soso usually does great stuff on posters that totally blows me away and gets my attention but his one just is...well...so so which is a shame again as it's such a lovely line up. New York, Glasgow, and Houston all bring their take on indie pop making for a night of swirling melodies, raucous energetic drums, and lovely guitar work. I'm still trying to figure out if the Wikipedia entry in the French Kicks is a joke or not. "Garage?" "...heavily influenced by the hardcore scene?" What the hell is that? I haven't heard their early stuff so maybe there is some basis for that categorization but at the very least that's not who they are now. Dig the opening track off the new album.
It's sweet indie pop with clean shimmering guitar, a poppy shuffle of drums, and clean swooning vocals. The Kicks will move you, sure, but you just won't find yourself in a pit. They are a perfect compliment to opener Young Mammals who stand up against any national or international indie pop band. Cley Miller is one of Houston's best guitarists with a great sense of melody and tone and Iram Guerrero is as known for his loud and powerful drumming as he is for his playful performance. Filling in the middle are Glasgow's Frightened Rabbit whose pop may not grab you on the first listen but a few spins of the 7" Be Less Rude and you'll be convinced. The song has a drive and emotion in both vocals and instrumentation that is somehow both understated and urgent. Lovely stuff. This should be a lovely night too.

ALSO THIS WEEK
Friday, June 6

The Scattered Pages / The Literary Greats
@ The Continental Club
The Scattered Pages - Houston folkie popsters - return for their first show in what seems like ages. Rootsy locals the Literary Greats open.

The Watermarks/Slivered/Flowers to Hide
@ Rudyard's

If I'm not mistaken Flowers to Hide is doing some kind of record release this evening. Expect lots of 80's/90's Brit pop guitars. Speaking of 80's Brit pop The Watermarks met Will Sargeant of Echo and the Bunnymen at a show and he gave them a thumbs-up on their synths.

Cave Reverend
@ Notsuoh

Freaky Psychedelic Blues at it's best.


Saturday, June 7

Dirty Honey, featuring Brett Koshkin
@ Boondocks
Dusty obscure booty shakin' Soul and Funk 45s is the theme. Hell yeah, the lowly 45 gets some love. Right on DJs! OK but if you balk and play an LP or a CD I'm gonna be horribly disappointed. And if you whip out a goddamn IPOD you are so on my shit list.

Secret Saturday Show
@ the Shady Tavern (2-5pm Free)
Come on down for a free musical surprise.


Sunday, June 8

The Carrots/The Wiggins/Stove Blow
@ The Mink (9PM)

The Carrots do this 60's girl group thing. I know people who've seen them and thought they were great live. (shrug) OK but the big deal here is the ever brilliant Wiggins. Shit take that Johnny song; it takes this cool 60s thing and totally twists it into this fucked up beast. That's why I shrug at the Carrots - they take pop music tropes and mimic them while the Wiggins takes them and turns them into something unique and fresh. Fuck cute and lazy. Give me innovation and wit any day! Long live the Wiggins!


Monday, June 9

The Cure / 65daysofstatic
@ Toyota Center
Yes, Robert Smith looks a little sillier in his make up as he ages but the old songs still ring sweet and it's a pretty good show for an arena show.

Teenage Cool Kids/O Pioneers!!!/Fire Team Charlie
@ The White Swan
Place your bets folks. On this side of the ring, from Denton, indie popsters TCK and, from West Houston, the spastic "Is that guy going to pass out by the end of the set" Oh Pioneers. The bookies have their money on Eric and The Papermoons.


Tuesday, June 10

RZA/Zeale 32
@ Warehouse Live
Woo! Dang! It's the RZA.


Thursday, June 12

Mates of State/ Black Joe Lewis & The Honeybears / Headlights
@ Warehouse Live

Jeez am I the only one that found the newest Mates of States video atrocious? People jazzercizing in animal masks? Sorry but no! Mercifully I heard Get Better long before I saw the video and totally dug its lush arrangement and harmonies. I have to admit this is a band who, when I first heard them, I thought would only hold my interest for one album but here we are and they keep making music that as fresh as that first time you heard them.

The Western Civilization / Via Audio / Jukebox The Ghost
@ XO Bar & Lounge (2611 San Jacinto; 8PM, free)
The Western Civ writes and arranges some pretty songs that I don't usually associate with Skateboards and Vans footwear but clearly someone at The Warped Tour does as they were asked to play one of the stages on the Tour's next Houston pit stop. Congrats. If you want to see them away from the boiling hot Houston sun this may be a better option and it's free.

Recession Thursdays, featuring
The Delta Block, Basses Loaded, The Fucking Transmissions, Satin Hooks, & Shina Rae
@ Numbers
Yes, it's another lovely Thursday of Houston's best bands thrown by you know who. This is actually why I moved the preview to Fridays. This way I can devote Thursday's column to a shamelessly biased hype for each Thursday's show so as to be fair to the other shows in the week but briefly Basses Loaded, Fucking Transmissions, and Satin Hooks all get the Dio metal sign from me.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Music with Jameson & Lone Star: The McKenzies, The Gold Sounds, and Sad Like Crazy 31 May 2008

posted by Ramon Medina - LP4 @ 7:46 PM

Saturday night was not all right for fighting or much else. Let's face it, a full day of non-stop fun with your wee tyke makes for a very tired and grumpy adult when he hears the call of a sofa at the end of the day. The good thing is, if the music is good, fatigue usually fades away - at least for the most part. Sure, it makes for a less over the top evening but the upside is it's easier on the pocketbook when it's time for me to pay my tab.

So while fatigued and mlaa was how I felt when I walked into the Mink, it didn't last long. How could I? The opening band was The McKenzies - local indie popsters that will wake you up better than a case of Red Bull. They have this wonderful amorphous and primordial energy - cute, spunky, and nervous - that suggests a band just figuring out what it can do and thrilled at every step. This night that energy was particularly giddy with the band cutting up, goofing, and jumping about like I'd never seen them before. Miguel and Jodie sang some lovely harmonies but they also basked in silly stage banter with Jodie playing foil to Miguel's tipsy and giddy commentary. This is exactly the kind of stuff that irks some people as being unprofessional but the room was intimate and friendly so why not kick back and relax - let the music take care of itself. Sure enough the music swung with a youthful energy that was pushed forward by drummer Matt whose neat red shirt and skinny black tie belied the bludgeoning his drums suffered. The music played sweet and at other times raucous but always with that energy of "Isn't this neat? Isn't this fun?" to which you can only succumb to their charms and admit "Yes! Yes it is!"

The Gold Sounds - while also being fun - came for one thing and one thing only - to kill. Previewing them on Myspace did nothing to prepare me for what they unleash live. They had to be the most motley yet stylish band I'd seen in quite some time - a drummer with hair right out of a 70s after-school special, a bassist with a polyester shirt that made my seashell shirt pale in comparison, and a guitarist that looked like he just stepped out of some International Artists studio session. Well, they sure looked interesting and as the band tried to get some bass issues resolved I kept looking at my watch furiously. "Well," I thought, "maybe I can catch one song if they can get it together." Eventually, with a loaner bass amp, the bass sounded a few dirty notes to everyone's relief, the drums kicked it, and it was on! That surfer dude drummer may have looked harmless but the second his sticks hit the skins with a Bonham-like Boom you knew they meant business. The bassist took the lead vocals and belted the songs through his Tom Petty teeth like whatever the fuck he was selling was gonna save your life so you'd better listen up. The guitarist meanwhile played with an extremely thin tone suggesting a huge 60s garage fixation and then literally threw himself into the music. By the end of the first song, it was "Oh, maybe one more." then by the end of the second song it was "Oh, OK, maybe just one more" and so on. Their no holds barred energy was incredible and it took a lot of effort to walk away from with that ragged Frank Davis garage sound. That sound is something you'd never know from their recordings which is why I never understood why the band always described itself as psychedelic and 60's until I heard them live. And, unlike their EP, where their influences ran roughshod over them, live this band clearly is its own master. Goddamn! Imagine what would happen if they could corral what they do on record. Ah is sold!

So with the midnight hour I apologized to Awake for having to miss their set (second show in a row I've missed and they are painfully good) and made my way over to Rudyard's. Somehow I made it in time as Sad Like Crazy were just getting ready to play. Now, if you were around at the turn of the century you may recall SLC as being somewhat ubiquitous but babies and relocations silenced the band in the early part of this decade. Well, I'm glad to report that Mari, Trey, and Thane still have the same lovely energy they had when they put the band on hold. For me, it was much the same thrill I got as when I saw Kyle Gionis return to the stage with Welfare Mothers last year. Perhaps this is a good trend with the older rock set. Maybe, with the kids being a bit older, parents have a bit more time to devote to music or maybe the kids just make good roadies now. Who knows. Who cares. When the band is as good as SLC it's just great to see them back at it. And everyone at Rudz was pretty thrilled too. Ben Murphy taunted Thane Pool by demanding he "Try harder!" and other friends teased them by demanding they play "a good song" which of course Mary obliged with a laugh and two extremely sassy middle fingers. That pretty much captured the laid back and jovial mood. Sure there were some sound problems (if you were too close to hear Joe's mix, Mari's guitar was being blown away by Trey's borrowed amp for a time) but, overall, it was a lovely night of sweet indie guitar rock with all it's born of the college airwaves tropes. For me, the biggest kick is the guitars and how the melodies weave around each other with such grace. Sure, they may not be Warren of Golden Axe but they don't need to be; they knows how to drop a perfect melodic counter-punch with a six string and that can be quite devastating. Quite devastating indeed.


Viva Los McKenzies
Matt - rocking the kit so hard

that Miguel falls to his knees!


Snappily dressed Guitarist?

Check!

Bassist with a sweet polyester shirt?

Check!

Drummer that looks like he can surf,

drives a van, and can score really good weed?
Check!
THE GOLD SOUNDS ARE GO!


There was a lot of fallin' to your knees
goin' down at the Mink

but where is the dude with the cape?

Sad Like Crazy ain't getting down on their knees!

They rock upright!
Trey Pool

his stance says
Am I trying hard enough for Ben Murphy?
If not, why? Why?


Mari Pool

Her stance says
I came here to rock!
as well as
Die Ben Murphy! Die
!

The McKenzies
The Gold Sounds
Sad Like Crazy

More Picks on my Flickr (Link)

Labels: , ,

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Jenny Westbury

posted by Ramon Medina - LP4 @ 7:13 AM

Photograph by Mark Armes

I wanna die fighting a bear in the mountains of Seattle!” laughs Jenny Westbury as we discuss “going out in style” on a sunny day outside of the Lawndale Art Center where she’s preparing for an art opening. It’s not exactly the way most people would like to meet their maker but, then again, Jenny doesn’t live in the same place we do. In her world, there is always something clever, beautiful, and exciting about the everyday. She expresses that sense of wonder in her songs where you’ll hear an expressive voice, impeccable vocal phrasing, engaging melodies, and lyrics that can tickle you with their wit or touch you with their humanity. Her subject matter is eclectic - friends, family, animals, history, the Bible, and anything that falls out of her head are all thrown into the pot. On a song like Klepto Sister, her haunting harmonies and tense acoustic guitar work drive a dark comic narrative in a song that is as disturbing as it is gorgeous. That lies in sharp contrast to the upbeat pop of a song like Gadget where Westbury’s voice floats unadorned in a sea of bobbing electronic drums, bass, and keyboards. In Plight of Leah Westbury interprets the Old Testament story of Leah and Rachel with emotion and empathy. The song concludes with a rousing chorus where the competing characters sing, “God is on My Side” - a coda that worries Westbury as possibly being too cynical. If that’s too heavy, she’ll bounce back with the bright melody, and playful words of a song like Frogs and Bears, Cats and Bees that kisses your ear like a spring breeze. If all this sounds like the Pop! Pop! Pop! of someone whose brain can’t stop poking around, that should be no surprise as, in addition to her music, she is also a gifted A/V artist and, I think it’s safe to say, an all around certified dabbler.

Over the years, she has written many songs on guitar yet she describes her abilities on the instrument as limiting. Yet, ask her about her Hawaiian island four-string and she lights up, “I never picked-up on the guitar but the Uke - I can’t stop playing the Uke! Most people hate it but it’s so easy to play, I can carry it anywhere, and I can write in my car. I’ll drive with my knees, set the phone in my car, and record.”

That same joy is also in her writing. “I can write songs all night. I’ve never struggled with writing songs. If I did, I wouldn’t do it. Some people get frustrated but if I can’t say what I want to say, it’s just not time to say it. I write songs in 30 minutes and let them go; music is everything and nothing. I write because I have to get a song out of my head or I’m trying to catalog a thought. It’s about the process. I love the process.”

I mention her aversion to promoting herself and she replies, “A lot of people want fame and that’s contradictory to my faith and my faith is so real. I’ve always struggled with being a musician and promoting myself.” She pauses to think and continues, “Read Ecclesiastes. It should technically be a downer of a book, but it really encourages me in that it's realistic and sobering. There’s this theme of ‘pursuit of the wind’ - chasing something intangible. I think every artist and musician deals with that question of ‘What am I doing with my life?’ or ‘Is this worth it?’ or ‘Am I any good?’ I originally thought art and music were meaningless but I came to realize that they themselves are not the end but the means - the means to relationships, learning, community...”

Perhaps, because art and music are not ends to her, Jenny is someone who doesn’t mind roughness around the edges of her work. “I’m someone who never finishes things and it’s not a problem. That’s why I’m graduating with an art degree. Most professions are more rigid but with art there is more leeway to explore possibilities. See, I’m a fan of The Basement Tapes and Daniel Johnston. I love that Johnston doesn’t edit himself. You have bands with these bodies of work that are tight – you can’t deny that - but I’m the kid that wants to look at everything Why doll yourself up? Just so people think that you didn’t score on each record? That’s a vulnerability we owe each other. I feel we should be real and not hide so much.”

Suddenly she realizes she needs to get back to her installation but before she leaves she stops to remind me of one thing, “There’s a bear with my name on it!”

Jenny Westbury and Alex Nguyen (her video collaborator) are working on Heartbone Records – a label for bands and AV artists.

Jenny Westbury will be performing an early show on Thursday June 19th with Cryptacize (Deerhoof/Nedelle) & Blacksnake and Kangaroo? at the Backroom at the Mink.


Links:
Jenny Westbury on Myspace (Link)
Jenny Westbury (Link) - Note that this site is new and still under construction.

Labels: