Friday Free For All: Britney Spears, Andy Stott, Opposition Rising, Slayer, etc.

Britney Spears on the "Femme Fatale" tour in July 2011
Britney Spears on the "Femme Fatale" tour in July 2011

The Friday Free For All relays albums, artists, videos and vibes the Houston Press Music staff has been grooving to over the past week.

So it's been announced that Britney Spears will put out a new record on August 26, to be streamed exclusively through Apple Music. I was never much of a Britney fan, though I did appreciate her showmanship. Despite a limited vocal range, the girl knew how to put on a show, and she knew how to move product. In short, she was a latter-day Madonna. Britney has put out a few records since her heyday, to tepid response, but I'm getting the sense this new one will mark her official comeback. Will she ever be the cultural force she was around the turn of the century? Doubtful. But transitioning into full-fledged adulthood, and by all accounts getting her life in order, suits Britney well. Her music should benefit as a result. CLINT HALE

Odds are, many of us will give a nod to one sociopathic monster or another for high office this November, but that’s no reason we can’t take a hint from the title of this song and place some faith in strangers in all other matters pertinent to the human condition. I can’t make out most of what the siren at the mike is singing, except that “somebody’s had enough.” I feel you, sister.

A few years back I had to leave New York City in a hurry after a Howard Hughes-like aversion to other humans and their various auras and physical traces (subway filth, fingerprints, crowded noise shows) sent me scuttling back to Texas like a stepped-on hermit crab. This song reminds me of that crab. I’ve been doing a little suffering lately. In part, because my daughter got a boom box and a copy of Yellow Submarine for her birthday, so I’ve had to hear more Beatles than a grown human ever should. Of course there’s more to it than that, but you panoptic voyeurs reading this aren’t privy to the inside of all things, whatever you may think. You see, I’ve tried restorative yoga before? it only provoked the demons all the more, and they nearly pushed me over the proverbial cliff.

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Whereas this lovely song is calmative, physically and emotionally soothing, and aptly titled. Go ahead, put it on repeat. Perhaps it’s the low-pass bass frequency reduction on the drum tracks that at once puts the mind to think of dancing, while removing any compulsion to dance. Or the live bass guitar that rolls in like an understated Jah Wobble — inexact, imperfect, human. Or maybe it’s the singer, her voice enrobed in echoes, bookended by synthesizers and brocaded digital-cicada sounds, watching the same film as you, but magically, hypnotically, it all works to block pain and ease the coming of the night.

This song contains multitudes: at once it sounds like an Underworld arrangement for after hours, a dubby Arthur Russell song gone the way of early-2000s IDM, and a less bellowsome Section 25. But most importantly, it conveys sympathy, an awareness of suffering and our common cause. It seems to say the worst is behind you, for now at least. TEX KERSCHEN

There’s much to be praised for a traveling festival that is willing to book local openers on the bill. Likewise, short of announcing their own headlining tour, there’s probably no greater feeling for a local band than a slot on a big-ticket show like this. Consider the national advertising, the enormous crowds, the new fans that will surely come from sharing such a stage, incredible merch sales and of course, playing with rock stars you’ve admired for years. Enter the Summer Slaughter Tour, due at Warehouse Live on Wednesday, August 17. Easily the most underrated metal festival touring America this year, SS is boasting such acts as Carnifex, Nile, Suffocation and gore-metal masters Cannibal Corpse. As if that’s not enough reason to buy a ticket and take Thursday off, locals Agamemnon and Desecrate the Faith have been added. Other notables include Flithy Young Impalers, Bow Before Horus, Demoted to the Grave and Prophets Bane. KRISTY LOYE

Somehow, after all this time, I still view myself as a believer in the inherent goodness of this world’s people. Admittedly, this becomes more difficult to justify anytime I open the Google News page to see what fresh hell occurred since I last checked. At times like those, when my ass’s customary sunshine and rainbows dissolve into a murky diarrhea of anxiety and distress, I listen to Opposition Rising’s misanthropic anthem, “F.T.W.” The Boston-based hardcore punks unveiled this primal scream on 2011’s Aftermathematics, but it really resonates in 2016, a.k.a. The Year Of Everything Awful. Sometimes, when the world is on the attack, the best thing to do is join together to shout it down. Opposition Rising has given us something to shout. It’s powerful in its simplicity. You can shout it like you mean it, whether you do or not. It might not seem like much, but trust me, it’ll help. The band will be in town Sunday night at Satellite Bar, along with fellow Bostonians Disaster Strikes and local thrashers God Fearing Fuck, Revels and Apocalyptic Noise Syndicate. JESSE SENDEJAS JR.

Tom Araya rumors are swirling again, and this time may have some serious implications attached to them. According to the beloved front man of Slayer himself, “It’s getting harder and harder to come back out on the road.” No real surprise there, especially when considering his 35 plus year career — and, frankly, he’s been saying this for the past few years. Everyone deserves a break. Yet, the language surrounding this “break” is more like “permanent retirement.” Confirming this sentiment earlier this week by guitarist Kerry King sent the metal world into a fever-pitch argument across social media of whether there IS a Slayer outside of Araya. Admittedly, no. Slayer without Araya would be like Sepultura is without the Cavalera brothers — another cover band imitating itself. While family life is paramount, fan antics have come to a head. Recently, Araya was even spat upon by a fan while he was thanking the crowd for their support — the kind of drunken mosh-pit bullshit that makes retirement look like a pleasant alternative. If anything positive is to come from this end-time news, Houston Open Air may be one of the last Slayer shows ever. While that may be great news for ticket sales and Houston fans, its bad news for many (otherwise) lackluster metal fests that have been carrying Slayer as a headliner. Shows like Rocklahoma, Mayhem Fest (now defunct) and others will not draw the more seasoned of the metal divide where thrash and core separate. Without Slayer, the entire composition of American metal and the festival circuit will change. KRISTY LOYE

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