52 Pick-Up

Your guide to the 2009 Houston Press Music Awards showcase

Scattered between Bayou Place, lower Main Street and the Toyota Center district, you could say Sunday's Houston Press Music Awards showcase is as big as downtown Houston itself. Your feet will be thanking the god of your choice for the free rides between venues provided by SuperShuttle; ours already are.

And although we wish, of course, that there was enough time and space for every last one of this year's nominees to perform, the 52 who are should be more than enough to give even the most bewildered neophyte or smack-­talking skeptic a stiff dose of what a diverse, fertile scene we've got here. There's tribute bands and seasoned jazz singers, aromatic reggae and zesty zydeco, intelligent indie-rockers and relevant rappers, ferocious metal and soothing folk, pissed-off punk and tear-in-your-beer honky-tonk. And that's just a thumbnail.

No matter your own personal taste, we're pretty sure you'll find something among the following capsules that rubs your ears the right way. But for the $10 price of a wristband (available at all venues), take a chance on somebody you've never heard before too. You may well come away raving — we always do. Click here to cast your ballot. Chris Gray


Dean's Credit Clothing
(316 Main)

Glenna Bell (5 p.m.)

Nominated in: Folk

Sweet-as-pie songstress Glenna Bell is a welcome addition to this year's HPMAs, crooning her way into the horse-loving hearts of Midtowners. Bell sings with an infusion of Johnny Cash-style aesthetics blended with some Tammy Wynette syrup and a shimmy-shake of Bible. The Houston Chronicle named Bell's latest record, 2008's The Road Less Traveled, the best local album of the year. Brandon K. Hernsberger


Ozeal & the Eulypians (6 p.m.)

Nominated in: New Act, EP/7-inch (Ozeal & the Eulypians), Underground Hip-Hop

This local band is a soul-fusion quintet with a clear tilt towards earthy hip-hop, poetry and existentialism — we wouldn't be surprised to learn the members know all the words to A Tribe Called Quest's "I Left My Wallet in El Segundo" and Sun-Ra's "Calling Planet Earth." At once instinctive and cerebral, Ozeal's vocals have the same sleepy charm as Spearhead's Michael Franti, except you don't feel like you're being chastised for being dumber than he is when you listen to them. Shea Serrano

The McKenzies (7 p.m.)

Nominated in: EP/7-inch (The McKenzies),Indie Rock

As tight as the tightest spandex in that one fastidious hipster's closet, the McKenzies are putting the crackle back in H-pop, giving the local indie scene the clapping sounds it's needed for a while. They compare themselves to Weezer when Weezer was good, but even that's not saying enough. Along with the other 2009 Indie Rock nominees, these local kids made good are transferring the balance of indie power in this fair state north to south. Brandon K. Hernsberger

B L A C K I E (8 p.m.)

Nominated in: LP/CD (Wilderness of North America), Songwriter, Local Musician of the Year, Misc. Instrument (PA), Underground Hip-Hop

Part of the new wave of confrontational kids to come out of the Chemical City (Pasadena, duh), B L A C K I E has been pulverizing the crowds that surround him and his array of samplers for over the past year. The boy doesn't know how to use a stage, digging into the assembled masses à la old-school hardcore. He embarked on his first national tour this summer, hitting up the East Coast with his own grim and morose noise-inflected suburban tales, and is currently working on new slabs of music in hopes of a fall release. Craig Hlavaty

Metavenge (9 p.m.)

Nominated in: Guitarist (Anthony Cruz Jr.), Male Vocals (Cruz), Metal

Metavenge scares us. Why, you ask, would a group of metal kids, some not old enough to buy porn, do that? Metavenge has speed-metal locked down, and the trio hasn't even taken its first sip of legal booze, that's why. The thrashers sound as if they would have opened for Anthrax in 1985; tracks like "Time To Kill" ooze riffage like blood coming out of a tear in a body bag. Craig Hlavaty

Flying Saucer
(705 Main)

dUNETX (5 p.m.)

Nominated in: Drummer (Kevin Tate)

Big beats, fuzz-laden guitars, steroidal muscle and a droll sense of humor have made ­dUNETX one of Houston's most beloved — and underexposed — bands over the past dec­ade. These guys have always rocked hard and partied harder, making it a mystery why their rocking power-pop hasn't caught on with a much wider audience. William Michael Smith

Runaway Sun (6 p.m.)

Nominated in: Blues

Buoyed by the ambling fretwork of lead guitarist Daniel de Luna and singer Andrew Karnavas's burly, bluesy come-ons, Runaway Sun could be described as mild baby-making music. Standout track "Stoplight" conjures crumpled sheets and tossed pillows on the floor, and on a solitary night drive the song seems to get even slinkier. Karnavas's warm vocals are the real ladykiller here, edging straight into John Mayer territory without getting all sappy. Full-length The Bridge, following up last year's four-song Runaway Sun EP, is due later this summer. Craig Hlavaty

Kristine Mills (7 p.m.)

Nominated in: Local Musician of the Year, Female Vocals, Jazz

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