The Friday Free For All relays albums, artists, videos and vibes the Houston Press Music staff has been grooving to over the past week.
Late to the party is always better than missing the bus altogether. The Huffington Post was onto Giant Kitty back in April, saluting the punk-ish Houston four-piece’s video for the title track of latest album This Stupid Stuff, in which singer Miriam Hakim writes the song’s lyrics on Post-it notes stuck head to toe: “Go ahead, let this feminist punk band explain the meaning of microagressions better than any dictionary can.” It took me until this past Wednesday, when I finally listened to the album all the way through. (Thankfully, our man Jesse Sendejas Jr. was there way before either one of us.) Hakim’s deadpan, tough-chick sneer gives off a very Rid of Me vibe, or Debbie Harry circa “Die Young Stay Pretty,” even when Giant Kitty is being totally lighthearted (which they often are). Musically, Glenn Gilbert’s spring-loaded bass usually paves the way for the steamrolling guitars and drums on songs like “Man Size” and “Don’t Stop That Bus,” whose lyrics recap various Keanu Reeves flicks. Still, Hakim saves This Stupid Stuff’s sickest burn of all for “Hipster Boy”: after calling out the titular twit for having the nerve to wear her jeans, Hakim presses “send” with the fabulous kiss-off “You’re a social construct/ And I think your band sucks.” If you too have been late to the Giant Kitty party, catch up next Friday at Walters with Denver’s Dressy Bessy. CHRIS GRAY
PUTTIN' ON THE HITS
Puttin’ on the Hits was a 1980s syndicated TV show centered on lip-syncing. It was fun to watch because its contestants weren’t Hollywood royalty as in today's awful Jimmy Fallon skits. They were just Jane and Joe from next door, everyday folks whose creativity and (mostly) shamelessness were rewarded with 15 minutes of fame. I’m thinking about this program because Culture Club is visiting Houston this weekend and my brother-in-law, David, had his Warhol moment by mimicking Boy George back then. You youngsters may not realize Boy George spawned a whole lookalike contest circuit for a short time in the ‘80s, so unique was his look. David was feted in these events, here and in other cities, for at least a few years. He won a Houston Pride contest of this nature and famously thanked Houston “for knowing a good drag queen when it sees one!” on local TV news, which left the anchors a little perplexed, as I recall. Ultimately, he performed on a national stage for Puttin’ on the Hits. We were proud of him then and, despite the comments from today’s bored YouTube trolls, we still are. David passed away in 1991 from AIDS-related complications; he was only 29. I still can’t hear any news about Culture Club without remembering the oddly wonderful opportunities he had just because he was a fan. I’d love to see even a few Boy George impersonators at Sunday's show at Revention. JESSE SENDEJAS JR.
When Guns N' Roses first announced some festival gigs, and later a full-fledged tour, I was pretty stoked. The band blew up and fizzled out before my time, but having become a fan of GNR after the fact, I was more than excited to check out their Houston gig on August 5. Since then, reviews have been favorable, the band appears to play in unison and Axl Rose has even managed to act like a civilized human being. And yet, my interest in the concert — taking place a week from today at NRG Stadium — has waned. Perhaps the idea of GN'R is better than the actual GN'R at this point. Or maybe the thought of seeing an older, heavier Axl pant through "Welcome to the Jungle" just isn't as appealing as I originally thought. CLINT HALE
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APES OF THE STATE/1NCE
If you haven't been to Super Happy Fun Land recently, well, shame on you. Many a local act got its start in the weirdly creative show space on Polk, and several touring acts from across the globe have found audiences and some respite from the road there. So, if you haven't been lately, this Sunday night's show with Courtney Barnett and Kimya Dawson should draw you out. Okay, the acts don't really include Barnett and Dawson, but they do include 1nce, a local getting her start; and, a touring act worth your time, Lancaster, Pennsylvania's Apes of the State. 1nce is reminiscent of Dawson, with a twee voice enhanced by ukelele. Like Kimya's, her lyrics are interesting and can be hurried along by the pacing of half-anxiety-attack, half-showmanship. The line "We can be homies...you can eat the cheese, I can eat the macaroni" has been stuck in my head since a recent show at Alley Kat. "Apes" is the moniker for Apes of the State's singer April Hartman, who is Barnett-like thanks to smart and pointed lyrics. The band has been on a never-ending tour recently, supporting its latest album, This City Isn't Big Enough. Standout tracks are "Bill Collectors Theme Song" and "Sober Intentions," the latter of which details matters of the heart and how they can test sobriety. Hartman's been living the sober life more than two years now, but the songs reflect the befores and afters of that pivotal moment and resonate. Come check 'em out for yourself and remember what a blessing it is to have Super Happy Fun Land here. JESSE SENDEJAS JR.
Clint Broussard has one of the best programs in Houston radio, hands down; it’s called Blues In Hi-Fi and airs Mondays at 6 p.m. on 90.1 KPFT. He often hauls his 45s and LPs to spin at certain events in town, like last weekend’s opening reception of Cactus Music’s “Texas Me” poster exhibit. Back in January, Broussard began sitting down in his apartment, flipping on a microphone and playing records while “basically burning incense and drinking screwdrivers,” as he says, pausing every so often to free-associate about the songs he just played and whatever else might be going on in his life that day. Even the music beds when he’s talking are classy, like John Coltrane’s recording of “Greensleeves.” Titling his program after the great Beatles song “A Day In the Life” and nominally calling it a podcast, Broussard has the instincts and the library on hand to create segues that retrospectively seem like they were always waiting to pop into existence, mixing the familiar with the obscure with more skill than most commercial-radio programmers could hope to muster. Inspired by his aunt, last week’s episode was an extended riff on the number 16 and beyond, as expressed by the songs of Eazy-E, KISS, Neil Sedaka, the Replacements, the Rolling Stones, Calexico and Iron & Wine, Tim Buckley, the Black Angels, the Cure and Albert Camus reading from The Stranger. Broussard made it all make sense, flipping from one song to the next as naturally as turning the pages in a book. Here’s hoping he keeps ’em coming; tune in at adayinthelifepodcast.com. CHRIS GRAY