Introducing the Friday Free For All

Terry Allen (right) with former First Lady Nancy Reagan
Terry Allen (right) with former First Lady Nancy Reagan
Photo courtesy of Paradise of Bachelors

“Friday is my day,” the great 21st-century poet Google Autofill once said. “Friday is here.” Damn straight it is. The end of the week calls for transitioning into the weekend as gradually and painlessly as possible, so we picked our staff’s brains to see what’s been rubbing them the right way this week, musically speaking. We thought we’d share it with you on the off chance you might have a clickhole or two to fall into today. Feel free to resume working at any time.

Since Guy Clark is no longer with us, lovers of philosophical and offbeat Texas music should be extra grateful that Terry Allen still is. Cut from the same South Plains bohemian cloth as the Flatlanders, the Lubbock-born artist and musician’s work has been exhibited at the Met, the MoMA and the L.A. County Museum of Art (for starters), but before all that came 1975’s Juarez. Reissued today on the Paradise of Bachelors label, Allen’s debut album charts the astrological destinies of four disparate characters — a sailor on leave named Sailor; the Mexican prostitute Spanish Alice; a pachuco named Jabo and Chick Blundy, “Jabo’s L.A. girlfriend, an enigma, rock writer and occasionally Jabo himself” — as they tear ass across the Southwestern U.S., breaking the law and stumbling over pearls of wisdom like “today’s rainbow is tomorrow’s tamale.” Sitting at his piano, Allen comes off like Warren Zevon in a border cantina, exhibiting a cracked sense of humor and borderline religious sense of pathos. “I feel just like a dogwood tree,” he sings on “Dogwood.” “Yes, somebody come and carved a cross out of me.” CHRIS GRAY

My data plan registers in kilobytes, my CD wallet hasn’t been properly repacked since Missy “Misdemeanor” Elliott was wearing a trash bag, and the radio is more pathetic than all that, so when I’m in the car, I usually commit my ears and my emotional health to various selections on a sleek MP3 player. I love the selection, the compression rate, the coin-pocket size. Any member of my band will attest (with his or her own emotional ambivalence) that most of my MP3s haven’t been switched out in years, which is just to say that like most of you, I’m still getting down with Betty Davis, the original Nasty Girl, Miles Davis’s wife, Jimi Hendrix’s most famous lover, the once and forever Queen of Funk. Madonna borrowed her hot pants, Jennifer Herrema borrowed her growl, Sly & the Family Stone borrowed her band, but no one yet has borrowed her bravado, her wit or her evocative range. Whether purring, rapping, moaning, whispering or howling, she’s always loud and proud, a total honcho in short-shorts and platform boots. TEX KERSCHEN

I really didn't want to like the new Drake album, Views, mostly because I haven't much cared for anything he's produced in the past. Plus, Drake fans/apologists rival those of Radiohead in terms of arrogance and stubbornness. That said, Views — despite the lukewarm critical reception — is really good. "Faithful" samples an old Pimp C lyric (Drake has always had an affinity for Houston rap); "One Dance" is catchy as all get-out, and, well, you already know how Drizzy make that "Hotline Bling." Views is dark and brooding, and as I've come to find out, I really like brooding Drake. CLINT HALE

The 2013 fan video of Samantha Fish’s performance of “I Put a Spell on You” is making its way around the Internet again and probably deserves constant social media rotation. This video in particular shows Fish under possession by the blues. She is a woman entranced and in ecstasy, and you will be too after giving it a view. KRISTY LOYE

Rage Against the Machine set up a cryptic countdown clock on a website I had serious problems accessing ( yet finally got through to give them…my email address? WTH? My hope is that there is some kind of supreme plan to activate the mild rage of youth culture against Donald Trump into an all-out sort of rock and roll anarchy convention, but I may just have to settle for RATM email spam about clearance merch. Let’s hope for the former. KRISTY LOYE

This week in music has seen several smatterings of rumors of reunions. Glenn Danzig and Jerry Only will be together in The Misfits for the two offerings of RiotFest. Tonya Donelly talked more about reuniting '90s alt-rock group Belly. Then there is the reported forming of another Tom Morello supergroup, Prophets of Rage, composed of members of Public Enemy, Cypress Hill and Rage Against the Machine.  Personally, the most exciting news would be an actual Jawbreaker reunion. Drummer Adam Pfahler reported that Blake Schwarzenbach and Chris Bauermeister got together for a quick session to see if they could still play together. I've never had the opportunity to check out these grandfathers of indie-rock.  Fingers crossed that they make it happen! JACK GORMAN

There’s no one quite like Stufy Summers.  Imagine a real-life Pinocchio, not constructed from rigid wood but stitched together from plush, pillowy feelings, and you’ve got a start on what to expect when this Chicago-based singer-songwriter arrives at Notsuoh next month.  Last year, he performed at the now-defunct Summit and had the crowd in stitches, in awe and spellbound by songs from Pank! and his latest album, Excalibur: Ruby Version. Since then, he’s gone on his first proper tour of the U.S.; has played festival dates with Heartless Bastards and The Hold Steady's Craig Finn; and has named Rowlett as his favorite new Pokemon. Yes, Pokemon is still a thing. He also wrote "The Most Personal Song I've Ever Written," one of the best songs I heard all last year. See him June 13 at Notsuoh with Old Fox Road. JESSE SENDJAS JR.

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When I arrived in Austin in time for the 1973 summer session at UT, lured there from radio school at Odessa College by the promise that long-haired hillbillies and Cosmic Cowboys were the new norm, Chip Taylor's “(I Want) the Real Thing” seemed to be on KOKE-FM 24/7 or blaring out from every jukebox in town. Given the mood of the time surrounding the birth of the Outlaw Movement and the birth of the Cosmic Cowboy thing ushered in by the likes of Michael Martin Murphy and Jerry Jeff Walker, Taylor’s tune seemed to be the perfect anthem for the time. Beginning with its opening put-down of “the Crewcuts and Pat Boone” as the not-real thing we were all in rebellion against, the song goes on to enunciate a new mentality in regards to pop music, a sort of mission statement from the Austin new breed, if you will. At KOKE, guys like Rusty Bell and Joe Gracey also bombarded us with telling deep tracks from Taylor's Last Chance like “Clean Your Own Tables,” which became another Austin anthem, and “I Read It In Rolling Stone,” later covered by Dion. The album also is the finest demonstration of Taylor's poetic capability and wry wit. Outside guys like Guy Clark, few had Taylor's gift with words. Although Taylor wasn’t an Austinite, Last Chance was one of the defining albums of a new way of life in Groover’s Paradise and still serves as one of the best capsules of that moment. WILLIAM MICHAEL SMITH

Travel + Leisure named Houston a Top 10 city for its music scene — a year ago — and the article has resurfaced on Facebook again. While it’s not the first time T+L has placed Hustletown on a music city list, it’s sparked a serious discussion about whether we really are a music city. I’m completely at a loss why our Bayou City would take T+L’s authority over our own on the matter, but hey, the conversation is on the table again. My advice: Activate your confidence, Houston. You are the shit. KRISTY LOYE

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