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Music Awards Survey

A rundown of every act on this year's bill

Well, folks, it's gotten hot. After a June that felt more like an April, this summer's finally stopped underachieving and is now hammering us with the unholy trinity of ridiculously high temperatures, soul-drenching humidity and alarmingly frequent ozone alerts. The gators have retired to their bayou-bank havens, and the blue jays are tumbling from the sky as the West Nile virus shreds their insides.

All of which augurs one thing: the arrival of the Houston Press Music Awards. This is our 15th year -- or crystal anniversary, for those of you of a gift-giving persuasion -- and it's notable for a few reasons. One, there are more Latin and dance categories than ever on the ballot. Two, shows will be happening at a bunch of new venues -- Clark's, the Blu Torch and the Speakeasy weren't around this time last year -- and they're closer to one another than they've ever been since we moved this sucker downtown. And three, for the first time ever, in Switchfoot we have a headline act that has a massive pop chart hit at the same time they're playing our event.

But even given all that, the spirit of the event should remain the same. It's a celebration of Houston music in all its varied glory, from the old-school blues and R&B of Grady Gaines and the Texas Upsetters to the techno/tech house of Henry Chow; from the Korean War-era country of Hilary Sloan & Aunt Erma's Fillin' Station to the Aztlan/Dirty South hip-hop of Chingo Bling. And, of course, there will be lots and lots of rock and roll, in Spanish and English, old-school and new-school, from cover bands and originators and those that mix the two.

Chingo Bling
Chingo Bling
Mark Towns
Mark Towns

Sure, it's always hot as the devil's ass and you have to do a bit of hiking, but you know what? There's nothing else like this event. It's Houston music's Woodstock, Coachella and Burning Man all rolled into one, and you can catch 65 bands for a mere seven bucks.

Back at Strake Jesuit, the good fathers told me you couldn't call yourself a Catholic if you skipped Mass on Easter Sunday. And I believe that you can't say you "support the scene" if you miss Showcase Sunday. Be there, or go to purgatory.

(About the guide: In an effort to let the bands explain themselves as eloquently as possible, we sent out questionnaires to all of them. That's why the band blurbs read like a Zagat guide -- it's the best possible format for letting everyone have their say. Unfortunately, not all of the bands could be reached, and some didn't send in their questionnaires on time. In those cases, we relied on band bios and positive press coverage. This is one event where we suspend our critical faculties and let the bands say how great their music is without our butting in. We may trash 'em and slash 'em the other 51 weeks of the year, but not this week.)

All-Star Icehouse
508 Main, 713-227-1511

4 pm Drexl
5 pm Vatos Locos
6 pm JW Americana
7 pm Infinity's Twin
8 pm The Handsomes
9 pm Carolyn Wonderland

Drexl
Song of the Year ("Nectar")
About two years
www.drexlis.com

"Recklessly blending elements of modern rock, funk, R&B and metal into a controlled chaos that stretches the previously untamed waters of aggressive pop" is the wordy stock-in-trade of this quartet, "a band that sees sound as elastic: ever changing and ever stretching." Hailing from "a barrio-slash-ghetto near you," Drexl hopes to "to save the world and outlaw cheese out of a can."

Vatos Locos
Best Punk
Six years
www.vlrock.com

This band considers itself "unique and aggressive" and says it comes from "deep within one of the meanest inner-city barrios" in H-town to combine "rock and roll, blues, metal, jazz and hardcore." "She Loves Me for My Dickies," off their 2003 album, Fortune and Fun, was filmed as a video by the blue-collar clothier. People who come to Vatos Locos shows are treated to "a band with a tremendous stage presence," with "an energy that captivates the essence of entertainment," they say. An as-yet-untitled new CD will be coming out next month.

JW Americana
Best Punk, Best Bassist (Doug Kosmo)
Two years
www.jwamericana.com

Bridling at the punk label, JW Americana claims they are more of a "a musical skeleton key with the teeth being the roots of rock 'n' roll and soul." Or maybe they're purveyors of "straight-forward, no-effects rock and roll, whose lyrics resemble the ramblings of a brilliant eight-year-old kid" and deal with "such fascinating things as hot dogs, M-80s, water and boudin." "Anywhere in front of wild gyrating women!" is their favorite place to play, and you can't accuse them of false modesty -- or modesty of any kind, for that matter. Their boast: "JW Americana is probably the best rock 'n' roll band to come out of Houston in a long, long time, if not ever."

Infinity's Twin
Best Alternative Rock
Two years and counting!
www.infinitystwin.com

These modern rockers worship at the altars of Live, A Perfect Circle, Stone Temple Pilots and Incubus, though all of these musicians are mere demigods in their pantheon when placed next to Grohl, the supreme being. Some of the praises they sing: "So much talent and so little time! Bad-ass drummer and bad-ass guitarist! The guy can sing, too!" The band describes music as "the canvas on which we paint our picture of beauty" and adds that they "LOVE TO ROCK!" The band is currently involved in the Meltdown to Cabo Contest for the Hard Rock Cafe, and they hope to make it to the finals, where they could have "a chance to open up for Sammy Hagar in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico!"

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