R.E.M. sees the end.
R.E.M. sees the end.

Hurricane Mixtape

Well, unless we're very unlucky and Rita stalls out over us like Allison did, Houston's scariest hurricane in at least 20 years will have come and gone. By now, you're probably feeling one of two ways: utterly devastated at the loss of almost all your worldly goods, or a combination of relief that the storm wasn't all it was cracked up to be and puzzlement as to what you're going to do with 35 cans of Wolf Brand chili, 75 gallons of Ozarka and 300 square feet of plywood.

Either way, you'll probably still be recovering from one or more hurricane parties that the diehards threw here in town last week. And that's where we come in. We know we're too late to be of much service for Rita, but we've put together a little list of tunes that promises to be the straw that stirs the drink for your future storm-based soirees. And through the wonders of modern technology, it'll be up here on the Houston Press Web site for all time, so you can come look it up next year.

Or then again, hurricane season doesn't even end until November 30. By the time you're reading this, we could be coming to grips with the approach of Stan, Tammy, Vince, Wilma or even Alpha.


Hurricane Rita

Wouldn't that be a treat? So hold on to all those cans, folks, and fire up the CD burners. This collection is quite good, if we say so ourselves -- note the absence of such obvious choices as "Riders on the Storm," "Ridin' the Storm Out" and "Rock You Like a Hurricane." (Go ahead, put 'em on there, if you must.) We're quite confident you'll hear those enough on the Arrow, and just as assured that you'll want to waste some of your emergency batteries playing this mix.

Movement I -- Storm's Approach

"Hurricane Party," Cowboy Mouth

"Pressure Drop," Toots & the Maytals

"Hellhound on My Trail," Robert Johnson

"19th Nervous Breakdown," Stones ("Here it comes, here it coo-oomes…")

"Higher Ground," Stevie Wonder

"I Ran (So Far Away)," A Flock of Seagulls (with the Wonder tune above, these are to mock the chickens who ran, or to provide a soundtrack for your own flight)

A little Ennio Morricone

"The Final Countdown," Europe (cheesy as a boiling tub of fondue, but portentous)

Movement II -- First Wave of Storm

"Ride of the Valkyries" Wagner (for that Apocalypse Now vibe)

"Bring the Noise," Public Enemy

"It's the End of the World as We Know It," R.E.M.

"Communication Breakdown," Led Zeppelin

"Boom Boom Out Go the Lights," Little Walter (with above, two crumbling infrastructure songs)

"Mind Playin' Tricks on Me," Geto Boys (for when you see your car flying into your neighbor's house)

"This Ain't No Picnic," Minutemen

"3 Feet High and Rising," De La Soul or Johnny Cash

"Drowning," English Beat

"Muddy Water," Bill Monroe

"Tupelo Blues," John Lee Hooker

"Here Comes the Flood," Peter Gabriel

"Underwater Dance Party," Mr. Quintron

"Blues for the Lowlands," Big Bill Broonzy (with the five songs above, a six-song flood suite)

"Lust For Life," Iggy Pop (if you're not dead yet, this is what you'll be feeling)

Movement III -- The Passage of the Eye

"Eye of the Hurricane," Herbie Hancock (also Jad Fair, many more)

"Dark Was the Night (Cold Was the Ground)," Blind Willie Johnson (eeriest of tunes for the eeriest of weather phenomena)

Movement IV -- The Aftermath

A little mournful Chopin piano music

"Mean Old Twister," "Hurricanes Carla and Esther" and "Hurricane Betsy," all by Lightnin' Hopkins (for historical perspective)

"Pick Up the Pieces," Average White Band


All hail Quincy Jones! Never has such cool walked the earth than the man known as Q. And now we praise him even more as the producer of Thriller, so we can praise that great album without mentioning Michael Jackson.

Certainly, you would think that with two child molestation charges (and the horrible Invisible), the King of Pop would have already earned our scorn. But we respect our critical boundaries, and have waited patiently for Jackson to come back to our musical domain. And now that the rubber-faced bugger has announced a benefit song for Hurricane Katrina, we leap in the air and bellow, "Fatwa!"

Hurricane Katrina did to New Orleans what Michael Jackson wished he could do to Macaulay Culkin. When Jackson heard how the city's lower parts were soaked and wrecked, marauded and looted…he understood. So, hoping to re-create the massive success of "We Are the World" -- the song Jackson co-wrote that solved all of Africa's problems -- he has penned a new charity song called "From the Bottom of My Heart." Michael, you are hereby forbidden from using the word "bottom" in a song title. It insults the professional pride of joke writers. Even now, Jackson is searching for collaborators for his work. We suggest, of course, R Kelly.

Fatwa! Michael Jackson, we command you to invent a time machine, go back to 1984 and announce your retirement from the public eye. Only then can you be forgiven, and shall this fatwa lift. Until then, consider writing tribute songs for the victims of, say, you.

It is written. -- The Ayatollah of Rock

A glossary of overused crit-speak

Let us now discuss the labyrinthine, in-your-face, introspective, esoteric, head-bobbing, fist-pumping, booty-shaking, genre-defying mélange of the Rock Critic Cliché milieu. (Riffage. Let us also discuss riffage.)

Like any other, this profession suffers from its own unique lexicon of ridiculous, impenetrable jargon. I am certainly not immune to this disease, nor can I suggest a foolproof cure. But perhaps I can diagnose specific viruses and prescribe medicine for…lousy metaphors. (Gotta knock it off with the lousy metaphors, too.)

As we behold 2005's shimmering, hypnotic, melodic dawn, I pledge to you: Every bolded word in this article, I will never use again after this week.

Angular: Frequently describes guitars that sound, well, pointy. Sharp, unpleasant, of or like Fugazi. As opposed to "circular."

Coruscating: Really, really angular.

Listenable: "I didn't like it."

Unlistenable: "I didn't listen to it."

Seminal: "I sold it back for $5 without listening to it, but then everyone else wrote about it, so I had to buy it back for $12 and pretend I liked it."

Minimalist: Describes any song that does not employ a full string orchestra. "Hall & Oates' 'I Can't Go for That (No Can Do)' is a seminal, coruscating slab of minimalist pop."

Slab: Indeed.

Danceable: "I couldn't dance competently if my pants were on fire."

Beatlesque: (Fires rocket launcher at head.)

Radio-ready: "This is the only song I remember."

Anthemic: Really, really radio-ready.

Jangly: Fate intertwined with R.E.M. Adios.

Drops (e.g., "Tone Loc's new album drops January 25"): Knock it off; you're white.

Wheels of steel, as opposed to "turntables": White white white white white.

Lush: Boring.

Soundscapes: Pretentious.

Swirling: Conjures lush soundscapes of boring pretentiousness.

Cerebral: Yes, sir: Brian Eno is smarter than you.

Cinematic: What -- like Meatballs?

Eclectic: "From polka to bluegrass to baile funk to death metal! It's a floor wax and a dessert topping!"

Crunk: White white white white white white white white.

And while we're at it, a few bonus tropes:

_______ -esque/ish: "Dude, I gotta finish this: Aqua Teen Hunger Force starts in 20 minutes."

Like _______ on acid: "Dude, that giant bag of fries totally just said 'crunk.' "

Wanton hyphen overuse: An ordinarily calm writer friend of mine flies into a rage whenever this technique is employed. Specifically, he refers to it as "I-can't-think-of-what-to-write-so-it's-time-to-just-say-'fuck-it'-and-hyphenate-the-shit-out-of-a-whole-mess-of-words-that- might-come-close-to-an-accurate-description-of-something-that-I-might-be-able-to-work-out-myself-if-I-read-real-books-instead-of-Spin-while-I-go- poo-poo." He'll be fine, honest.

_______ yet ________: Increasingly common. Angry Hyphen Guy particularly chafes at the "retro yet futuristic" tag: "What -- like Barbarella?"

Wanton capitalization overuse: Such as, oh, say, "Angry Hyphen Guy." I'm still enamored of this one too. Let's save it for '06.

Wanton: Not yet. I still really like "wanton." -- Rob Harvilla


All-access pass to the top stories, events and offers around town.

  • Top Stories


All-access pass to top stories, events and offers around town.

Sign Up >

No Thanks!

Remind Me Later >