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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.

No rest for the wicked, as the saying goes.

"We have a lot of records that are kind of in the works right now," Dossey says. "A couple of them are at the pressing plant. Any time new records are coming out, you go on tour with 'em and get people interested in it. That's what we've been doing lately, and it's been paying off."
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EASY DOES IT
Still a nice guy, Yves steps out on his own.

BLSHS singer Michelle Miears (center) says she loves songs that make her cry.
Groovehouse
BLSHS singer Michelle Miears (center) says she loves songs that make her cry.
The story of her distant ancestors' settling in East Texas, near Palestine, in the 1840s worked its way onto Libby Koch's new album, Tennessee Colony.
Max Burkhalter
The story of her distant ancestors' settling in East Texas, near Palestine, in the 1840s worked its way onto Libby Koch's new album, Tennessee Colony.

By Brando

Yves Ozoude is a master of engagement. When you're speaking with him, his eyes remain focused upon you. There may be pumping bass or loud conversation nearby, but Yves will peer downward for a second, then tilt his head back to look you in the eye — at all times.

Now 29 years old, Yves is seated at one of his favorite bars, AvantGarden, enjoying a bottle of Guinness. He looks, in his words, "Cuban fresh," in contrast with his usual attire of a single-colored Adidas tracksuit. It's Wednesday, a night Yves and his DJ, Candlestick, usually retreat a bit from the increasing attention and fame. It doesn't completely bother him that before all this, before he was known as Easy Yves Saint or the front man for the critically acclaimed rap group The Niceguys (who are on hiatus), he was a literal outsider who had to be cordial and respectful.

"My whole thing with The Niceguys was to spread as much love as possible," he says after taking a sip of his brew. "I had to think, 'Spread love.' Me coming here, I'm not from here. I had to wipe my feet on the mat."

But now, Yves vows, "I'm not wiping my feet on the fucking mat. I've done that."

After he arrived here from New York and created The Niceguys in 2007 with college friends Free, Cristolph and Candlestick, a minor perception grew that Yves was bourgeois. Arrogant. It didn't necessarily help matters that The Niceguys have released two critically acclaimed albums; the latter, James Kelley, won Local Recording of the Year at the 2013 Houston Press Music Awards. They've been featured on a wide array of top music blogs and earned praise across the country for their musicianship. Yves's assured confidence and verbal dexterity in particular have never allowed even one bar of his to be considered simple.

That expressive nature, from his round eyes to his lanky frame, gets fleshed out more on the six-track Sincerely Yves, his eclectic, candid debut EP (out now). Rather than release one bloated project, the rapper is far more instinctive about letting fans make their own decisions.

"The idea is to let people familiarize themselves, get intimate with it, actually get to like the songs," he says about the structure of the EP, one of around five in total he's planning to release. "I'm digestible as a person; I want to translate it to music."

Much of the early criticism lobbed Yves's way dealt with how his music in particular seemed to be too wordy, too keen on being smart and puzzling. He charts the growth from The Niceguys' 2010 debut album, The Show, to James Kelley as "whimsical" and says it's annoying to talk about himself all the time. But now Yves says he feels far freer, and his latest material shows how he can easily switch from packing an avalanche of metaphors and punch lines to simply being accessible.

Yves will never give a simple answer. All his explanations start as a single thought and explode into a cloud of questions, considerations and more. Nothing is ever short with him, including his thoughts on the music scene ("we're too socially segregated"), making music ("I can't make music with other rappers in mind"), being himself ("no nicknames, I'm just Yves") and how the loss of a friend shaped his perception of going solo.

"She had the right idea," he says in a low baritone. "Her passion was trying to connect everyone. This album is a thank-you."

His thoughts jump a bit whenever music isn't the main subject. A rundown on rappers and women who want to be desired for all the wrong reasons turns into a riffing session with scouting-combine allusions and more. Technology, soccer, his beloved New York Knicks — anything is fair game for further pursuit of thought.

"At the end of this, you want to say something important, because that's the point," he says. "How do you not make this shit in vain?"

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.

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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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