Pop Life

Friday Free For All: Slow Future, Frank Ocean, Future, Glass Candy, Hamilton

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

It’s nice to see there’s still a place in Houston for unruly ‘90s-style indie-rock in the Dinosaur Jr./Sebadoh mold – bands who embrace reverb-soaked guitars and thickly marbled riffs, and see no need to turn down the volume, but will hit you with a deep thought or two the second your head starts nodding a little too hard. Released back in April, Slow Future’s five-song EP (listed on Bandcamp as simply First E.P.) splits the difference between stoned slacker-rock and wounded electric blues. Rip off the knob on the flailing, Who-like frenzy of closer “See What You Bleed,” and you’ll soon understand why lo-fi is only way to fly. See them tonight at Satellite with Golden Sombrero, the Escatones and Only Beast! — three other awesome kitchen-sink-minded local bands. CHRIS GRAY
Well, it finally happened - we finally got the new Frank Ocean album. After four years, endless speculation and delays aplenty, the enigmatic Ocean last weekend finally dropped blond, the follow-up to 2012 breakout Channel Orange. Alas, this was not to be his Chinese Democracy, and thank God for that. Fortunately, blond delivers the goods, which was certainly a concern, considering we weren't even sure when, or if, the damn thing would come out. Lead single "Nikes" is pure Ocean, in that it's magical but kinda hard to classify. Other standout tracks include "Nights" and "Self Control," and an interlude with Outkast's Andre 3000 ("Solo (Reprise)") is a treat. And I'm partial to "Facebook Story," just because it's a pretty damn spot-on depiction of dating in the social media age. CLINT HALE

Summer’s on the run. It’s almost time to roll up the windows and think about death. But in these last moments of jeep weather, beach weather, exposed-skin weather, you need not see fear in a handful of dust. All you’ve got to do is press play and be transported to funkier times. Exotic Cleveland, 1983, where party people have their leather jackets and berets pulled tight against the wind. Frankly, it’s harder to funk in a sweater. A sharp noxious whiff of the Cuyahoga River sneaks in through the vents and nearly splits your nose in two as you cruise East in your Chevy Caprice. Your honey is pressed up close to you on the bench seat, and you know she’s going to turn this up when it comes on. Meanwhile, you switch over to Euclid to avoid the packs of wild dogs on Carnegie. It’s Cleveland, ‘83, summer’s far away. TEX KERSCHEN

I'm a pretty big fan of pop-punk. It reminds me of a simpler time in my life, and I enjoy revisiting it ocassionally. Sure, the lyrics tend to be melodramatic, but I grew up with the genre so it will always hold a special place in my ear canals. Revitalized by blink-182's recent visit to Houston, I delved into the archives of Spotify to revisit my youth. Along the way, I discovered that blink isn't the only '90s-era outfit still making music in the genre. Sum 41 has released two new songs this year and is preparing to embark on a North American tour, aptly titled "Don't Call It A Comeback." And though neither was ever my cup of tea, even Simple Plan and Good Charlotte have put out new albums this year. But these bands' sounds have grown tired, and there's an abundance of younger voices hurtling their emotive lyrics and pop-punk ballads at fans now. Neck Deep, Broadside, Mooseblood and Modern Baseball, to name a few, are breathing new life into the style while preserving the overemotional, soaring choruses that first attracted fans. So here's to pop-punk and its continued success. It's not for everyone, but there are plenty of kids out there who need songs that are simultaneously overwrought with emotion and dance-friendly. God knows I did. MATTHEW KEEVER

It's that time of year again and students everywhere are entering their latest classes, meeting with all their new classmates and professors and generally having panic attacks about how their social life is about to go down the drain. I know this firsthand because I'm taking classes again this semester and it's already been a painful two days. What can motivate you to overcome and achieve quite like the sounds of your favorite songs? I grew up on the Rocky movies and "Hearts on Fire" and "Eye of the Tiger" are always great choices to keep your eyes on the prize, but personally I think my taste skews closer to my classmates these days. On repeat for the first day back? Future's "Fuck Up Some Commas." I don't know what was in the earbuds of everyone else on campus, but nothing can get me pumped like Future. That's a context I'll bet he never imagined his music being used in, but kudos to the Atlanta trap-rapper for inspiring some to drink lean and some to get educated. COREY DIETERMAN

The influence of payola in the spa market charts has been a known thing for so long that we hardly have occasion to remark on the pernicious way it clogs and bottlenecks our awareness of the rich genre. Hits like “Cherry Blossom Mani/Pedi Theme” and “Yamaha AN1x Factory Preset Bank 1 (Keys Taped Down)” monopolize the market shares, powered by interest groups and deep cisterns of dirty money, keeping underdogs like Glass Candy hidden under the proverbial bushel. Say you’re freeing up some chi at the acupuncturist’s, your toes as stuffed with needles as a big-time Hollywood star, what are the odds you’re going to hear “Covered In Bugs”? And, yet, the message is the same, the music as soft and welcoming. It’s the biz that’s rotten. TEX KERSCHEN

Something weird is happening to me. My listening pattern for albums I enjoy has always been the same three steps: 1) Hear and enjoy it once; 2) Rapidly play it on repeat to quickly familiarize myself; and 3) Get sick of it. An optional Step 4 is to eventually come back around and add it to the "classics" rotation. But here's the weird thing: Hamilton (Original Broadway Cast Recording) has been on Step 2 for almost a year now. I listen to parts of it every single day, and go through the entire nearly-three-hour emotional roller coaster at least once a week. Maybe I'm going crazy. Either that or Hamilton could be, as I've half-joked before, the greatest piece of art in the 21st century. Maybe, in Hamilton's (Lin-Manuel Miranda's?) own words, it's "passionately smashing every expectation" that I had toward music consumption. Maybe it's just nice to surprise yourself sometimes. ERIC SMITH
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