Christmas in July

Six dozen of Houston's finest bands for a mere $7

Dan Dyer
Best Male Vocalist

www.dandyer.com

Having played on the "Rock the Vote Tour" and at the "Revlon Walk/Run in Times Square" and at South By Southwest, and hung around with his producer Lenny Kravitz, whose Warner Bros.-affiliated Roxie imprint released Dyer's CD ... Of What Lies Beneath, and gigged in front of 40,000 people are all pretty good indicators of budding rock stardom. Why, then, does Houston/Austin troubadour Dan Dyer hate "rock stars" so much? Maybe it's because he's not about fame -- in a world without music he would be a "meter reader," and he claims only to have jumped in the music game because of his "fascination with used guitar picks." It irks him that people thinks he and his bandmates are "loaded" when he says he can "barely pay the bills," but that could change soon for this fast-rising pop-rock talent. -- JNL

Houston Rap Showcase, with Slim Thug, Bun B, Devin the Dude and more
Best Major-Label Hip-hop

www.slimthugthaboss.com

Two slammin', Neptunes-produced tracks on the Box — "Like a Boss" and "I Ain't Heard of That" — showcase this hulking, gruff-voiced rapper, who’s set to join fellow Northsider Mike Jones in the national hit parade. The car aficionado earned his other nickname — Boss Hogg — from the old-school 'Lac he used to roll in, but these days he's being driven around in a majestic purple Rolls-Royce Phantom. He's not driving it, though. As he told us in last week's cover story, "the cops took my shit indefinitely," speaking of his driver's license and the string of tickets he'd gotten over the past few years. But he's still running stop signs and red lights — only these are the ones that stand between him and superstardom. Devin the Dude's rare Houston appearance is one of this year's biggest treats — he's a Swisher Sweet packed with narcotic rhymes and more natural charisma than John F. Kennedy and Chris Rock combined. His jazzy albums exist on a plane beyond most other Houston rappers, and they have won him such accolades as "the best rapper on earth" and "your favorite rapper's favorite rapper," one who stands tall as John Coltrane in a pack of Kenny Gs. Bun B is one of the elder statesmen of the Dirty South, a brawny-voiced brawler from Port Arthur with an advanced degree in street science. From his days with Underground Kingz through the present, few rappers on earth can match his reputation or his skills on the mike.-- JNL The Finalist
Best Alt Rock

www.thefinalist.net

By the time you read this, southeast Houston hard rockers the Finalist will have just returned from preliminary sessions in Canada with producer GGGarth Richardson, whose list of credits is studded with both extraneous Gs and names like Rage Against the Machine and Red Hot Chili Peppers. Christian overtones shade some of the otherwise Buzz-friendly band's lyrics, but the band doesn't want to be stuck in the "Christian music" ghetto: "We want everybody to listen to us and not turn people off to our music by saying that they're not welcome to it just because they don't believe in God," notes front man Dylan Brady on the band's Web site. But then again, they canceled on us at the last minute, despite having signed a contract promising to play. Is that something Jesus would do? -- JNL Lit

"Here we are / we're all alright," sings front man A. Jay Popoff at the end of Lit, the band's first album since parting ways with RCA. Back at the turn of the millennium, hits like "My Own Worst Enemy," "Ziplock," "Miserable" and "Lipstick and Bruises" kept the band at the top of the charts and even enabled them to snag Pamela Anderson to star in their videos. But somewhere along the way, Popoff decided that it was not the band's job to sell records. "Our job is to write good songs and kick ass live," he says. "If we're not doing that, then we've failed." That's just what they've done with Lit, a self-produced album featuring "bouncy musicality," "a nod to Elvis Costello," another to Big Star filtered through Cheap Trick (the lines quoted at the top of this article), a Cure cover ("Pictures of You") and even the self-deprecating first single, "Looks Like They Were Right." Popoff says that a "weird combination of personal issues and drama" contributed to the record's unusual sound, a list of trauma and joys that included first-time parenthood for Popoff and the loss of their record deal. "It was like when you break up with somebody," Popoff says. "You know it's for the right reasons, but it still feels weird not having them around."

All the recent ordeals have made philosophers of these rockers. The biz, says A. Jay's brother Jeremy, "can chew you up and spit you out," and all that matters is "how you come out on the other side." Sometimes you come out stronger and "ready to kick ass" and your band is "closer together." And Lit is clearly one of those bands. -- JNL

Ultra
108 Main, 713-222-9108 4 p.m. God's Temple of Family Deliverance
5 p.m. Sevrin
6 p.m. You(genious)
7 p.m. Rx Medicine Show
8 p.m. Paris Green
9 p.m. John Evans Band God's Temple of Family Deliverance
Best New Act

www.godstempleoffamilydeliverance.com

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