Houston Press 1997 Music Awards Preview

A guide to who's who in the Press Music Awards ballot. Plus, the where and when of the Press Music Awards Showcase!

Artist: Jinkies
Nomination: Best Rock/Pop; Best Male Vocalist (Carlos DeLeon); Best Female Vocalist (Chris Nine); Song of the Year ("Baby Never Cries"); Songwriter of the Year (Carlos DeLeon); Album of the Year (Everest)

Sound of choice: Power pop periodically disguised as noise
Time logged: Two years
Etc.: Though the recent arrival of former Manholer Chris Nine has helped in the harmony department, the Jinkies continue their struggle to convincingly translate their tuneful and irreverent punk-pop formula to the stage. But on CD, specifically their strikingly mature debut Everest, the quartet is just about there, contrasting pristine Beatlesque numbers such as "Baby Never Cries" with enough lo-fi, slop-rock carelessness to lash Carlos DeLeon's well-crafted melodies and Lennony croon firmly to the present. Will somebody wise up and sign these guys already?

Jinkies perform at 7 p.m. at the Blue Iguana.

Artist: The Keenlies
Nomination: Best Funk/R&B
Sound of choice: Goofy groove ephemera
Time logged: Four years

Etc.: Despite the Keenlies' nomination in the Best Funk/R&B category, frontman Brad Moore insists that their sound is less like Parliament and more like Emerson, Lake and Palmer -- albeit with worse vocals and shorter songs. However one might categorize the Keenlies, it's hard to deny that their music is infectious. Despite a dearth of new material, the band still manages to attract respectable crowds to their shows. Playing less and practicing more these days, Moore admits that the group is becoming a bit more serious. But he would also like to assure everyone that the Keenlies will always remain "foolish scoundrels and bar clutter." Amen to that.

The Keenlies perform at 7 p.m. at 8.0.

Artist: LatchKey Kids
Nomination: Best Underground
Sound of choice: Revised old-school punk
Time logged: Four years

Etc.: It seems like only yesterday that the LatchKey Kids were indeed kids, sweating it out at Zelda's in front of a sparse weeknight crowd. But over the past few years they've matured into a feisty, full-tilt trad-punk outfit, creating an image for themselves outside Houston in the process. This summer, plans include trips to Idaho, Utah, Colorado and Canada, as well as the release of a new CD, Anytime, Anyplace.

LatchKey Kids perform at 4 p.m. at the Shepherd Plaza Outdoor Stage.

Artist: Liberation
Nomination: Best Reggae/World Music
Sound of choice: Pure reggae
Time logged: Ten years

Etc.: Liberation, whose members hail from Jamaica, Barbados, Trinidad and the Virgin Islands, spans the variety of reggae styles, from dance hall to rock-steady to dub -- even throwing in some American funk for good measure. Their new CD, Take Heed, is receiving airplay on radio throughout the U.S., Canada and the Caribbean.

Artist: Li'l Brian Terry
Nomination: Best Cajun/Zydeco
Sound of choice: Postmodern zydeco
Time logged: Eleven years

Etc.: Earlier this year, Li'l Brian Terry laid down his blueprint for the future of zydeco with the Rounder Records release Z-Funk. His strategy for ushering a tradition-seeped genre into the next millennium is fairly simple -- dress it up with the more contemporary traits of hip-hop, funk and reggae while keeping the emphasis where it belongs: on the accordion, which Terry works like it's just another appendage to his sturdy, well-toned frame.

Artist: Lima Sugar
Nomination: Best New Act
Sound of choice: Groovish, appealing indie pop
Time logged: Two years

Etc.: Lima Sugar's Liz Sowers is the most appealing female voice to emerge from the Houston scene this year. Though she may not be as impressive a full-throated wailer as, say, Carolyn Wonderland or Under the Sun's P.J. Cooper, Sowers nevertheless shades her somewhat girlish delivery with a world-weary intonation that exudes serious personality. As for the music, Lima Sugar is steadily negotiating its way into a more original sound, mixing it up enough musically so that no one would ever doubt their artistic intentions -- just, perhaps, their experience.

Lima Sugar performs at 5 p.m. at the Blue Iguana.

Artist: Linoleum Experiment
Nomination: Best New Act
Sound of choice: Slightly skewed pure-pop hooks
Time logged: One year

Etc.: Linoleum Experiment began as a vehicle for gifted guitarist/vocalist Thane Matcek -- with a little help from his friends in Celindine (now Trompedo). Since then, the project has evolved into a full-fledged indie pop band with tons of promise. Perhaps most heartening about Matcek is that he isn't afraid of a pretty hook, and his fresh, emotionally direct vocals are an equal treat. The band goes into the studio in late summer to record its full-length debut.

Linoleum Experiment performs at 6 p.m. at Instant Karma.

Artist: Manhole
Nomination: Best Metal/Hard Rock
Sound of choice: Coed metal alternative
Time logged: Six years

Etc.: Over the past 12 months, the leaden leading ladies of Manhole have retooled their lineup, replacing a drummer and a bassist and adding a second guitarist. They have not, however, compromised one shred of their trademark heaviness, as the added weight of new personnel has just made them, well, heavier. Manhole's aversion to touring makes them an almost exclusively Houston act; the band is most likely to be spotted loosening the floorboards at the likes of Fitzgerald's, the Blue Iguana and Instant Karma. Recording for their second full-length CD begins later this summer.

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