We're starting to yawn at retro acts like Jet and the Strokes. Sure, they're all the buzz, but they're really just saturating the music scene with derivative, carbon-copy songs from yesteryear. Thankfully, a few acts, like Houston's Spain Colored Orange, create something new out of the old and take it to new levels. The six-piece lineup seamlessly crafts shiny pop gems with a kaleidoscope of pristine arrangements that make you long for the days of big collars and big music. "Our sound definitely has a '70s rock influence, but it's still more of a modern sound," says Gilbert Alfaro, Spain's lead singer and electric piano player. The band fuses strong melodies and interposes trumpet, synth, strings, tambourines, maracas and hand-claps to create a rich, deep sound that -- like the best '70s tunes -- is too good to resist. "I've always wanted a big orchestrated band," says Alfaro. "I love the texture and the sounds."
Audiences love it, too. The band recently enjoyed packed shows at Numbers and the Houston Press Music Awards Showcase. And it wasn't your typical young hipster crowd, either. "We have both older people and underage kids just digging the stuff," says Alfaro. With the release of their new EP, Hopelessly Incapable of Standing in the Way, it could be just a matter of time before the rest of the country is seeing Orange. 9 p.m. Friday, November 11. 1415 Bar and Grille, 1415 California. For tickets, call 713-522-7066 or visit www.superunison.com. $8. -- Travis Ritter
T.K. Bitterman's Sea Breeze
I needed somewhere to hide my face, a spot that wouldn't be overcrowded on a Wednesday night. I knew just the place: T.K. Bitterman's (2010 West Alabama, 713-529-8979). I asked the bartender for a Harvey Wallbanger, only to be turned down. "I'm out of orange juice," she said with a hand on her hip. "Well, how about some bar trivia?" I asked. Was I supposed to guess what she had? She snapped back with "I am not in the mood," and before I could decide on a substitute, she was pouring me a cocktail. I was on my third when I asked her what I was drinking. She pulled out a clear plastic bottle from the well and put it in my face. "Can you handle that?" she asked. Um, okay. Later I figured out that the vodka, grapefruit, cranberry concoction was called a sea breeze. Bitterman's is a drinker's bar -- the bartender with her one-liners, the girl slurring next to me, and my bottomless drink had me feeling right at home. I could see where this was going. I cut my tab short and wandered out into the cool Houston night.
3 ounces McCormick vodka
2 ounces grapefruit juice
1 ounce cranberry juice
Fill a glass with ice, pour in the grapefruit juice, then the vodka, and top with the cranberry juice. Make this cocktail for your friends, but don't tell them what's in it. It's more fun to guess. -- Jason Kerr
We Want More
Paramore's sound is poppy and polished -- slick, even. But that's not a bad thing, as evidenced by the driving melody and disco-riffic high-hat action on their tune "Here We Go Again," which sounds like it could be an opening track for The O.C. or Laguna Beach. That's fitting, as the band members' average age is 18 (lead singer Hayley Williams -- who sounds awfully Avril -- is a whopping 16). The tunes are catchy, the hooks are plentiful, and the lyrics are terribly cute. Check 'em out with Simple Plan, Straylight Run and Plain White T's at 6 p.m. Wednesday, November 16. Warehouse Live, 813 St. Emanuel. For tickets, call 713-629-3700 or visit www.ticketmaster.com. $25. -- Steven Devadanam
Down in the Gheto
This weekend at Spectators Bar and Grill, Gheto Rancho Productions is putting on H-Town On Lock, a showcase of some of Houston's best-kept hip-hop and reggaetón secrets. The lineup features groups such as F.E.V., 3Way and Rated E the Band, as well as solo rappers Lil Trouble, Lil Bone and Brimm. There'll also be a cameo by the appropriately named Latin beatman Rhythmic-Percussionist Extraordinaire. Look for these acts to appear on an upcoming Gheto Rancho record. Paul Wall and Slim Thug fans, hit this gig if you want to catch the new voices of the South. 8 p.m. Saturday, November 12. 6502 Washington Avenue. For tickets, call 713-864-5400 or visit www.myspace.com/ghetorancho. $5. -- Travis Ritter