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Rip It Out

The coming year in Houston recordings.

Only in Houston

Bagheera: This slick, funky electro-duo has a huge year in store that only starts with a collaboration with Twin Shadow hooked up by Red Bull's Sound Select Program. Bagheera's Aidan Kennedy says he's still figuring out what to do with the songs he has stockpiled, but knows he'd rather "get the right people involved" rather than release the music themselves.

"We're in no rush, and we're having a blast with all of the live-show support and opportunities we've been given over the past year," Kennedy says. "We have some really awesome festival plays this year that we aren't allowed to share yet, but we could not be more excited."

Electronica duo Bagheera is starting off 2014 with a Twin Shadow collaboration.
Mark C. Austin
Electronica duo Bagheera is starting off 2014 with a Twin Shadow collaboration.
The Tontons poured lots of soul into their new LP The Make-Out King and Other Songs of Love.
Julie Worsham
The Tontons poured lots of soul into their new LP The Make-Out King and Other Songs of Love.

Catch Fever: This indie-rock trio, whose melancholy and melodic sound recalls anything from Depeche Mode to Band of Horses, hope to have their album out at the end of February. The three members are all Houston natives, came together about two and a half years ago, and touch on anything from love and war to drug addiction and the local music scene in the album's seven songs.

"We try to maximize our creativity with only three people," says Josh Wilson, who plays bass and piano, and sings. "The album has a lot of vocal and instrumental layers, and is comprised of very dynamic and different-sounding tunes."

Robert Ellis: True, Robert Ellis technically has moved to Nashville, but he'll always be a Houstonian to us. Plus, The Lights on the Chemical Plant, his second album for New West (due February 11), is mostly about Houston.

"Photographs was very much first-person from my perspective," Ellis says of his previous album, released in 2011. "Much of the material on Chemical Plant is based in character studies or in fictional stories. Stylistically, we wanted this one to be a little bit more ambiguous and try to develop what will hopefully become our own sound people think of when they think of us."

Featherface: After releasing their first vinyl single, "Ourselves Together/The Cosmic Draw," these mellow psych-rockers also recently completed a video for "Cosmic Draw." They hope to have a second LP to follow 2012's Actual Magic out by the end of the year, but admit it's early to start talking about that.

"The way it's turning out so far, we're really excited about the sound of what we're working on," the band says. "I think people will be surprised. They can definitely expect some new songs turning up in our live shows as we get closer to the album coming out. Wish I could get more specific, but like I said, it's pretty early on in the writing process for us."

We understand. See Featherface live at our Houston Press Artopia party on January 25.

Chase Hamblin: The Beatlesque retro-rocker says he hopes to release two 7" singles soon and a full-length, more "groove-driven" followup to 2013's VAUdeVILLE later on in the year. "The last record was fairly rootsy and very '60s," Hamblin reckons. "I'd say the upcoming material will be more psychedelic and more modern but with a clear connection to what I've done previously, both in vibe and lyrical content."

Craig Kinsey: The Sideshow Tramps front man and Honky Tonk Blood co-star says American Roots and Blood, the followup to 2011's The Burdener, is meant to highlight America's musical history...all of it. That includes early-American church music, Sacred Harp singing, Southern gospel complete with a ranting preacher and full choir, garage-rock, a "pop-type song that sounds like Weezer," and his epic 14-minute Civil War ballad, "Gettysburg." It's due in early spring.

"It was not intended to be a concept album, but it looks like it is," Kinsey says.

Knights of the Fire Kingdom: The KISS-loving stoner-rockers are hoping to release their nine-song album in March, on vinyl/digital only. They would have had it out sooner, but thought better of it.

"The first time, we stepped back and weren't very happy with what we had," explains Knight Jeoaf Johnson. "So we scrapped it all and did it over from scratch." Good call — he let us preview the album, and it's a doozy.

Mystery Loves Company: A trio employing the unusual orchestration of guitar, cello and clarinet to create beguiling acoustic pop, Mystery Loves Company is an example of the fact that what happens at an open-mike night sometimes lasts much longer than a song or two. In October 2012, self-taught songwriter Carlos Machado met cellist Madeline Herdemean at one such night at the Mucky Duck; they were just starting to play out as a duo when they met clarinetist Alauna Rubin at AvantGarden the next May. By that summer a Kickstarter campaign was under way, and the trio unveiled their debut LP, A Mystery Yet Unknown, about a month ago.

"A Mystery Yet Unknown represents our thoughts about what a record should be — a single meaningful experience from beginning to end — as well as a good indication of what to expect from us in a live setting," Machado says.

Omotai: Fresh Hell, the super-heavy sludge-metal quartet's followup to 2012's Terrestrial Grief, is now available to preorder via Bandcamp and will be released in February. Its seven songs include "Get Your Dead Straight," "Giant Pygmy" and "Throats of Snakes," so be sure to take a long shower afterward.

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