By William Michael Smith
By Jef With One F
By Craig Hlavaty
By Jesse Sendejas Jr.
By Sonya Harvey
By Jesse Sendejas Jr.
By Nathan Smith
By Craig Hlavaty
Best Metal/Hard Rock
I End Result
Heavy metal hard-liners would contend that I End Result's densely amplified wall of sound is too reliant on melody to be an authentic head-banger's feast. Obviously, the skeptics haven't witnessed the power and the fury of "Everyday" and "Face," a pair of I End Result showstoppers with plodding power chords monumental enough -- and lyrics menacing enough -- to move mountains, let alone the hazy craniums of the most cynical Sabbath devotee. Even the hooky, more upbeat material on the group's debut, Cosmic Electric E.P., is founded on grooves feverish enough to evoke swells of flailing torsos in the audience. You can add to that the fact that Cosmic's centerpiece, "Instrum," is the best tune to come out of the Inner Loop scene in quite some time, its infectious funk-metal hook capable of nabbing this young, biracial quartet a few free dinners with eager A&R types. It's that good.
So in essence, those aforementioned cynics could argue that I End Result is really two bands: the band that fashions its sound in the hit-capable, crossover style of early Living Colour, and the band that might be a little hesitant to see its underground credibility slide for the sake of a sing-along chorus. Fair enough, says I End Result leader/guitarist Arnett Vaughn, whose own tastes run the gamut, from R&B trailblazers such as Prince to obscure roots reggae to the heaviest '70s metal. Recently, I End Result emerged from a friend's home studio in Austin with a work tape of songs they hoped to work over for an upcoming full-length release, slated for January 1998 release. By that time, Vaughn hopes, the band will have had its share of free meals from label scouts -- one of which might possibly be topped off with a sweet record deal. (H.R.)
Best Blues/R&B Venue
The Big Easy Social & Pleasure Club
Who would have guessed that Houston's down-homiest blues bar would be located in uppity West U? Well, maybe the Press voters who have, year in and year out, given it the nod as the city's Best Blues Venue. Sure, the Big Easy is something of a hole in the wall -- but it's a hole in the wall with character. Out in front, the Christmas lights stay on year round, overseeing a small, AstroTurf-lined patio complete with plastic tables and chairs. Inside, two pool tables and two pinball machines line the back left side of the room, with a long bar in the rear and a small but big enough stage up front past a few rows of tables and a small dance floor. Mardi Gras colors of gold, green and purple grace the room, accentuating the club's Louisiana theme.
As for music, if a band's got "blues" in its name, you can probably hear them here. And perhaps the most unique thing about the Big Easy is the record store housed right inside the club, which features rare blues and zydeco vinyl, cassettes and CDs. (M.T.)
Best Horn Section
Though the name Global Village would seem to imply a more worldly aggregation, this well-heeled Houston outfit is American through and through. Founded by saxophonist Roger Igo in 1990, the band cut its teeth playing horn-heavy, old-school versions of classics by the likes of P-Funk, Earth, Wind & Fire and James Brown. Gradually, more and more original numbers were introduced, culminating with the band's first CD, released last year, which features all original tunes. As of now, Global Village's live shows consist of a mix of originals and covers.
Igo, who left the band last year, recruited the bulk of the original Villagers -- lead singer Chad Strader, trumpeter Keith Van Horne and trombonist Mike Donohue -- right out of high school. This group formed the nucleus of Igo's project, which was inspired by his studies at the Berklee School of Music in Boston. Back in the early '90s, the time was ripe for a new horn band, and Global Village quickly became a huge draw.
While it seemed Global Village might be in danger of stagnating over the last year, the band is now touting a fresh outlook, thanks in part to the addition of saxophonist Ken Mondshine and bassist Carl Jones, the latter formerly of Beat Temple. A few labels have expressed some renewed interest in Global Village lately, and the band is in the process of recording its second CD. (M.T.)
Jack's back, with yet another Music Awards win. That, of course, would be the Jack of Shake and Jack fame. In the past, Shake Russell and Jack Saunders have all but had a lock on the Press Music Awards folk category, and despite splitting up to go their separate ways, that lock can't be broken; it's just passed along to one of the pair.
Saunders's recent self-titled solo debut shows a singer/songwriter whose music is undergoing a continued evolution. And with another CD already in production, Saunders promises more changes, pointing out that his new material is "not just gentle acoustic, melodic folk-rock, but R&B, blues, rock and roll." A man who has written songs to entertain himself and others since the age of 15, Saunders seems resigned to leaving the "pure acoustic" nature of his past material behind him, and he hopes to do so with more than a little help from guitarist/collaborator Rick Poss. Formerly with Alejandro Escovedo and Jimmy LaFave, Poss is, by and large, an electric player, and his more aggressive approach should add considerable bite to Saunders's songs. Also part of the upcoming effort (due this fall) are drummer Rick Richards and bassist Roger Tausz. Hmmm, maybe there is a way to break the Saunders lock on the acoustic title; have him go electric. (M.C.)
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