Washington Wave

The 2010 Houston Press Music Awards Showcase lineup

Small Sounds (4:35 p.m.)
Nominated In: Best Roots-Rock/Americana
Fans of slower, melancholic songs and louder, upbeat rock ballads alike will find something to like about Small Sounds. The vocals will capture listeners' ears and hearts, while the instruments and occasional twang will appease both old-school country fans and those unfamiliar with the genre. The band has been called indie-country before, but it's so much more than that. Although it is nice when Small Sounds pay reverence to the South, which they often do. Matthew Keever

Guerilla Foco Clan (5:30 p.m.)
Nominated In: Best Underground Hip-Hop, Best New Act
Guerilla Foco Clan may come across as two Asher Roths who want to be considered Eminems, but they're deeper than that, really. It may take a minute to get past the surface of what seems like sans-substance rap, but these Houstonians are actually bringing a voice and sound to an untapped market audience — rebellious white youth who, put simply, just want to party and have a good time. In that sense, Damon Nash and Chess are actually geniuses, but we'll let you decide for yourself. Matthew Keever

4216 Washington

Kemo for Emo (2 p.m.)
Nominated In: Best Punk
Sounding a bit like Dookie-era Green Day addled on Pop Rocks and Ritalin, Kemo for Emo plays picture-perfect pop-punk with all the gloss and nasally sneer of the best Warped Tour alt-teen heartthrob. Since its 2003 start, Kemo for Emo has been more than willing to wear its heart on its proverbial sleeve, crafting songs with considerable emotion, buoyed by punk's rhythmic punch and the assertive melodies of dyed-in-the-wool pop. The band is nearing completion of second LP The Straight Line Pt. 1: A Picture Perfect Romance. Nicholas L. Hall

Chango Man (2:55 p.m.)
Nominated In: Best Latin Contemporary
Keep the rock en español tag if you need it, but let's face it — Tito Ortega and his boys rock. Period. They've taken the traditions of the '60s Hispanic South Texas pop bands, swished them in a whiskey glass with Beatles power-pop and added their own contemporary verbal and musical twists that make any Chango Man show a musical mystery tour. "Devil's Cumbia," anyone? William Michael Smith

Downfall 2012 (3:50 p.m.)
Nominated In: Best Metal
Having shared the stage with luminaries like ICP, Alice Cooper and the Reverend Horton Heat, three-piece Downfall 2012 is one of the most versatile of the area's current crop of metal acts. Based in Humble, Downfall 2012 is famous for its incredibly complex percussion breakdown at the hands of drummer Casey Bowen, who was a ­country-club jazz-fusion act until he stepped into the world of electric chaos with bandmates Danny Gil and Boo Rogers. The band released a self-titled LP in 2008. Jef With One F

Fat Tony (4:35 p.m.)
Nominated In: Best Underground Hip-Hop, Best Song ("Like Hell Yeah")
Since before graduating from high school, Fat Tony has been a rapper — and a good one at that. HPMA Best Underground Hip Hop champ two years running, he's looking to score a hat trick this year. Tony's highly anticipated new album RABDARGAB is set to drop any day now, which could make him the city's first breakthrough rapper not to rely solely on Houston's well-known but overplayed chopped-and-screwed style. Even people who aren't crazy about hip-hop love Tony's live performances, so his charisma and clever rhymes will surely take him far. Matthew Keever

Nick Gaitan & The Umbrella Man (5:30 p.m.)
Nominated In: Best LP/CD (Nick Gaitan & the Umbrella Man), Local Musician of the Year (Nick Gaitan), Best Bassist (Nick Gaitan), Best Roots-Rock/Americana
These Continental Club regulars keep the dancers moving with an interesting mix of honky-tonk, Chicano soul, Cajun and Texas Tornados Tex-Mex. With guitar, accordion and steel, Umbrella Man floats fluidly through genres with a dancehall-dive sound that puts them in a class with other acts who grasp the Gulf Coast musical traditions like Johnny Falstaff and Sean Reefer. William Michael Smith

5002 Washington

Ryan Scroggins & the Trenchtown Texans (2 p.m.)
Nominated In: Best Reggae/Dub
Devotees of ska and all things funky and soulful, the Trenchtown Texans mix up deep grooves with jazzy horns. The sound they create owes much to seminal ska acts like the Skatalites, but with a truly Gulf Coast feel. And if you're not careful, they'll sneak a banjo into the mix just to mess with your head. William Michael Smith

Chase Hamblin (2:55 p.m.)
Nominated In: Best Male Vocals
Some acts you take your girlfriend to see, and some acts you don't. Chase Hamblin gets filed firmly away in the latter category. Why? He's a nimble-fingered, satin-voiced, dreamy-eyed eccentric, for one. Plus, he's idealistic, which means he sings about idealistic subjects, and girls love that. Also, he wears scarves and top hats and looks like a way cooler Beck, and grew up some in Europe. There's no telling what kind of crazy sex things he knows about. Some acts you take your girlfriend to see, and some acts you don't. Shea Serrano

D.R.U.M. (3:50 p.m.)
Nominated In: Best Reggae/Dub
If it seems like every year D.R.U.M. (Divine Rhythm United Motion) gets nominated in the Best Reggae/Dub category, that's because they do. And if it seems like D.R.U.M. wins every year, well, they kind of do that too. The collective embodies exactly what it is that makes their music so enjoyable: an unchecked joy and appreciation for the sounds that they're able to make with wood and sticks and strings. Don't expect that to fade anytime soon. Which means you shouldn't expect their name to fall off the HPMA nominees list next year. They're like the goddamn Yankees. Shea Serrano

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