A Taste of the Hellhole

The idea that a compilation of local talent might be of some benefit to the commercial struggle of the local scene isn't a new one, and it's produced everything from memorable records like Texas Funk and Great Big Pile to probably-should-have-left-well-enough-alone embarrassments like last year's Houston Music Council sampler. 30footFALL's Tony Avitia and his self-run Broken Note Records recently released The Coolest Shit in Texas -- a compilation along the same lines featuring a slew of local and statewide bands that will soon be reviewed if I can get my hands on a copy -- and another, perhaps even more ambitious project is in the works from Justice.

The working title is Hellhole -- taken from a New York Post headline during the Rockets/Knicks skirmish -- though I'm told that tag probably won't make the final cut, and Justice honcho Randall Jamail tells me the compilation is the result of his idea that a Justice sampler of local talent "is long overdue" and a "reflection of our commitment to reinvest ourselves back in the community here." Jamail has farmed out A&R responsibilities to the Justice rank-and-file, with instructions to bring in demos of the best of Houston's new rock, punk and post-punk acts, and so far something on the order of 35 bands have responded.

Any music received by Justice with a postmark no later than Aug. 31 will be considered for inclusion, and local musicians should know that they may submit demos in any form, from cassette to 7-inch to DAT to CD. The polish of the demo means not a whit, since acts chosen for inclusion will be given free studio time to cut a new track for the finished product. Says Jamail, "We're gonna pick the bands, then go into the studio and produce the disc. One thing I want this disc to have that a lot of these things don't is a continuity of sound."

Justice plans to announce its chosen line-up -- a final cut of 13 or 14 bands -- by the end of September, with production tentatively slated for sometime in November and a late-winter/early-spring release. The deal is described as one-shot, no-strings-attached exposure, and Justice has plans to market Hellhole, or whatever the final title turns out to be, worldwide. Jamail even claims to have set aside an advertising budget and a promotional push at the College Music Journal and similarly targeted publications.

Considering the already late date, interested bands should get off their butts with great rapidity and submit material to Hellhole Compilation, c/o Justice Records, P.O. Box 980369, Houston, TX 77098-0369.

Say it ain't so... Thora-Zine, the coolest music mag to come out of Houston in recent memory, just hit the stands with a glossy full-color cover on issue number five and a slew of sloppy/engaging writings on everything from Sun Ra to Fuckemo's to Thin Lizzy to William Hooker. Points of special local interest include Bleachbather B. Brady's joint interview with Joey Ramone and ex-Dead Boys guitarist Cheetah Chrome, and a groovy, super-noisy flexi 7-inch featuring tracks from Japan's Boredoms, Eyehategod, Houston thrash-punk revivalists Dixie Waste (their "Hole in the Wall" is probably the best track here), and three half-minute-or-less selections from the tastefully monikered Anal Cunt. The new and improved Thora-Zine also comes with press material announcing that the 'zine has relocated its base of operations from Houston to that smaller Texas city up north that starts with an "A."

Local Stuff... Thursday night starts off strong with The Rounders playing at the Satellite, Alamo Jets at Munchies and The Last Wish at McGonigel's Mucky Duck. Rom Ryan can be found strumming his worldly acoustic guitar with special guests including guitarist/singer David Rice, percussionist Chris Rose and pianist Nicholas Walker at Diverse Works, and Beat Temple's still building the crowd at The Pig Live this and every Thursday.

Friday night, Sad Pygmy, who I can't help but think of as the most enjoyable punk-rock experience in this town, shakes up Rudyard's, and on the other end of the spectrum, Feo y Loco settles in at Munchies. Newcomers Dune play a set at the Edge Bar, which is a better place than most to see music youÕve never seen before, and standard-bearer Murrell, featuring vocalist Mignon Rae, performs at Ovations. The Friday event not to be missed, though, is De Schmog's long-awaited CD-release celebration for Kiddie Wonderland at Fitzgerald's, 9:30 p.m. sharp. The theme is carnival, complete with popcorn, cotton candy, sno-cones and CD and T-shirt giveaways. All and sundry are invited to bedeck themselves in costume gear. Austin's Noodle and Houston's Rusted Shut, in that order, fill out the bill.

Come Saturday, Herschel Berry's at the Ale House, Dropkick Chihuahuas plays Rudz and Trish and Darin make an appearance at the Village Brewery. Meanwhile, award-mongers Shake Russell and Jack Saunders folk the Mucky Duck. Pain Teen Scott Ayers' not-so-new band Truth Decay nabbed the opening spot on the stellar Ed Hall/Gaunt bill at Harvey's and Saddlebag is slated for Emo's.

Sunday plays witness to the Brain Tag Alternative Culture Festival, featuring Planet Shock!, Man or God, Clover, Pushmonkey, Train in Vain, The Numb, Poor Dumb Bastards and Deva at the European Garden, and as for Sunday nighttime, I can't recommend anything more highly than La Big Band, the humongous jazz unit that's been holding court at Soulstice Sunday nights this past month. Blues vocalist Carolyn Blanchard sat in last time I stopped by, and, while the room wasn't empty, there's space, and musical cause, for plenty more. Monday night it's more music of the large variety with the Houstonian Big Band squeezed into Munchies.

Tuesdays are traditionally dead nights, but this time around you can witness the return of Sasquatch 2000 at Emo's, or truck up north to Hurricane Alley for something they're calling Alternative Tuesdays (for those of you tired of those boring mainstream Tuesdays), this week featuring new talent The Thangs, Dune, Canvas and Demogorgon. Wednesday, as usual, Harry Sheppard plays vibe fusion at Munchies.


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