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Up and Coming: 5 Houston-Area Musical Artists You Should Know About

The locals who have captured our ears, from rock to rap to synth-pop.

His use of jazz and blues elements comes naturally. His father was a blues guitarist who played with legends such as B.B. King, and his music-loving mother kept his ears filled with the classics. It was only natural to integrate those elements, because they're what sparked this whole thing in the first place.

"I went through a tough time back in '97, and music was what really helped me get through it," says Flow.

But beyond his unique sound, Flow's old-school hustle game and keen eye for business opportunities have kept his recognition growing at a steady pace.

Easy Yves Saint and his fellow Niceguys decided to take a break after the group’s James Kelley won Local Recording of the Year at the 2013 Houston Press Music Awards.
Mark C. Austin
Easy Yves Saint and his fellow Niceguys decided to take a break after the group’s James Kelley won Local Recording of the Year at the 2013 Houston Press Music Awards.

"I have to be out there, making a name for myself. And there's nothing better than a personal connection," he laughs. "People don't want to let you down if you've made a personal connection."

For the rapper and budding entrepreneur, every interaction is an opportunity to network. He stops by the barbershop or local shows whenever possible, even if he's not on the bill. He has signed about 15 local artists to his label, Why Not Get Paid Records, and built a studio from the ground up. His clothing line is sold at four or five shops on the southeast side, and he has persuaded several barbers to carry it as well. Interest seems to grow daily, and Flow is in talks to expand into several other stores.

Yet as successful as Flow has been already, his difficulty getting on local radio has been an even bigger hurdle.

"You're not given opportunities in life. You have to create them, which is why the hustle game is all I do," he says. "And if you do it right, you might be able to influence people and touch lives."
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BATTLE BORN
Death-metal throwbacks War Master seek new fields to conquer.

By Nathan Smith

To the uninitiated, it can sometimes appear as though heavy metal is dead and buried in Houston. Fans still turn out for the legends, but the genre is nowhere to be found on the radio, and it's been a long time since a band of long-haired locals broke through onto the national radar.

But deep down in the dirt, amid the rot, still roils a seething underground of extreme music in the Bayou City. And one platoon of crusty throwbacks now stands poised to rise from the depths and spread a virulently Houstonian strain of living death from coast to coast.

Fittingly enough for a group founded by a couple of tattoo artists, War Master first took shape as a design aesthetic as much as a heavy-metal band. In 2009, guitarist Neal Dossey and vocalist Daniel Shaw found themselves free agents, and decided to create the kind of music that would match the gruesome, monochromatic battle fantasies in their heads. The result was a decidedly old-school take on early death metal inspired by the Warhammer-obsessed British slashers Bolt Thrower.

"Everyone has their own reasons that they're attracted to extreme music, I think," says Dossey. "I really love the artwork and the whole package of it. We came up with the idea for War Master because that's pretty much the coolest kind of artwork we could think of — crazy barbarian stuff.

"We were big fans of Bolt Thrower, so we kind of just started it as a Bolt Thrower tribute band where we had the freedom to do our own kind of artwork," he adds.

Soon, War Master would wield their noisy, grinding style as a razor, carving their name across the face of the Texas death-metal circuit. As their profile grew within the scene, the band weathered a few lineup changes: Notably, ex-Insect Warfare and Hatred Surge screamer Rahi Geramifar replaced Shaw on the mike in 2012. But the clattering din of battle never subsided around Dossey.

Five years on, the group has released a steady string of independent records, all covered in Shaw and Dossey's horrific hand-drawn visions of clashing swords and long-dead kings. War Master has built a solid local base of enthusiasts by uniting the disparate tribes of Houston's extreme underground with its militant look and craggy, overdriven sound.

"We kind of fall into several different scenes," Dossey says. "Our style of music does blend well with other genres of music, and I think we recognized that early on. It was kind of a happy accident, and we went with it. We're able to do shows with grindcore bands and true death-metal bands and all kinds, and it's playing kind of a throwback style that allows us to do that."

Now War Master has set off on its biggest tour yet. Beginning at Fitzgerald's on May 9, the band embarked on a 22-day tour that's taking them to places they've never been before, like Chicago and New York City. The trek is highlighted by a plum slot at the Maryland Death Fest, one of the world's premiere showcases for underground extremity.

"It's awesome," Dossey exclaims with demonic glee. "It's pretty much the best thing going on in metal in the United States, the biggest metal festival of its kind, with lots of underground stuff."

Houston's most evil emissaries will return, of course, but they won't be sitting down. A slew of old material sits waiting for release, and there's a new album to write. Another tour of the West Coast looms.

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4 comments
Dennis D Shamblin
Dennis D Shamblin

Surviving Bigfoot and the Dixie Mafia is a terrific book, which you can read free online. True book soon to become a motion picture.

Anonymous1984
Anonymous1984

How do you not have Nick Greer & the G's on this list? LAME!

texasredd
texasredd

This list seems a little...light.

 
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