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
Having spent the first chunk of 2003 in the studio working on the follow-up to Last Year's New Thing, Deep Ella will no doubt be eager to reconnect with its local fan base, which grew considerably in 2002. Though silly U2 references somehow keep cropping up, Deep Ella is more akin to the emotional grandeur and power pop of Blue October. As long as the chemistry between vocalist Jeff Crowder and British-born guitarist Rob Atherton continues to meld, Deep Ella should surface on some record label's radar soon. -- G.B.
Mercury Room, 6 p.m.
Best Rock en Español
Showing a creativity and an originality that many of their local alterna-rock peers lack, deSangre -- which translates as "of blood" -- brings the noise Soundgarden-style, with a few touches of '80s rock here and there. Keyboards ride above the guitar crunch, adding a layer of much-appreciated texture to their nightmarish soundscapes. The five-year-old band's second CD, untitled right now, is due out this fall. -- J.N.L.
TOC Bar, 5 p.m.
dj cuba gooding jr.
Best New Act
As naive patrons have discovered, this act bears a cheekily misleading moniker -- and most initial assumptions have more to do with the implied solo turntablism than the name-checked multiplex hero. According to public relations lore, Urban H. and Arctic Lars fled the crumbling economic climate of their beloved Eastern Europe, synths and Vocoder in tow, to pursue their celebrity in the shadow of Old Glory. Why they set up camp in Houston is anybody's guess, but hey, there's always room in our fair metropolis for a smart, hungry electro-pop duo. (Insert your own post-Enron "Show me the money!" quip here.) -- J.T.
TOC Bar, 4 p.m.
Best Lounge DJ
What the hell is there left to say about DJ Sun? He's got the Saturday-night radio show, Soular Grooves, over at KPFT. His "Soular Sessions" are still going strong over at Brasil Monday nights. And now there's a couple of new additions to his weekly schedule: "DJ Sun @ Onion Creek," Tuesday nights in the Heights, and the just-launched "Soul Sushi" Wednesdays at the Japanese eatery Typhoon. And he's won this award so many damn times, we're still shocked that he hasn't pulled a Cosby one of these years and just declined his nomination. Come on, playa! Everyone knows you're a great DJ, so why don't you give all these hungry spinners dying for recognition a shot at the gold! -- C.D.L.
Boaka Bar, 9 p.m.
Rap-metallurgists Downfall 2012 might want to send a copy of their recent album, The Fuse Is Lit, to the commander in chief so he can incorporate the catchphrase from the cut "Don't F*ck with the USA" into his recent "Bring it on" tough-guy rhetoric. The band's machine-gun sound builds on the groove laid down by drummer Josh Pazda and his bass-playing brother Adam. That interplay's evident in a rapid-fire bass-drum bridge in "USA," which also highlights the band's trademark tempo changes and crescendos, not to mention those requisite in-your-face sociopolitical rants. -- G.B.
The Brewery Tap, 4 p.m.
One of the freshest and most invigorating (relatively) new bands, Drifter combines dew-drenched Southern rock with minty-fresh '70s pop in its own original style. Craig Feazel and Paul Beebe share vocal and guitar duties, while bassist-keyboardist Cullen "Monkey" Evans and drummer Chris Laurents provide a steady rhythm section. Their recent release, Lottery Bar, was like an Altoid to the mouth of Houston music, featuring great melodies, catchy choruses and commercial appeal without sounding wimpy. Extra kudos for their songs about healthy relationships between the sexes. -- B.R.
BAR Houston, 7 p.m.
Best Jazz, Best Guitarist (Marc Reczek), Best Keyboardist (Ian Varley)
Houston isn't the greatest city in the world for live jazz, but folks like Drop Trio are out to change that. They don't really fit in with the avant-garde, the martini sippers or the purists; they're more for the young cats who like their jazz a bit funked up with lots of energy. Drop Trio is anchored by a rhythm section tighter than the Texas education budget and a Rhodes keyboard that gets pushed to its limits on every cut. Think Medeski Martin and Wood, without their lame DJ, and then add in some elements of bayou funk and acid-tinged San Francisco hipness, and you're close to describing the sound of their instrumental jams. -- M.S.
M Bar, 8 p.m.
Best World Music
The cats in D.R.U.M. work harder at entertaining crowds than Jimy Williams works the Astros bullpen. D.R.U.M. lives by the cardinal rules every band should follow: Always keep working. Don't whine. Don't bitch. Don't kvetch. Just take your ass out to some venue and play. In town, you can find them headlining at the Last Concert Cafe, where they perform "Global Fusions" on the first Friday of every month. -- C.D.L.
Dean's Credit Clothing, 9 p.m.
Best New Act
This punky-funky-hip-hoppity collective comes from a diverse array of backgrounds, both ethnically and musically, but they all have one thing in common. No one in this band is afraid to push the limits of any genre, and while their sound definitely leans mostly into the realm of reggae, you'll hear elements of electro, rock, turntablism, rap, funk, blues, ska and Afro-beat too. Their beats are fresh, the songs are conscious and fun at the same time, and they feature one of the best MCs on the circuit in Houston today. Perseph-1 could give any rapper a run for his or her money on any given day. -- M.S.
St. Pete's Dancing Marlin, 4 p.m.
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