The Best Houston Music We Heard in February
Acid Jeep: Acid house for the rest of us.
Photo by Jay Tovar/Courtesy of Acid Jeep
Although I am often happily compelled to linger on the more scabrous side of the street and take notes, most of the time, deep down, I just want to keep it funky. A welltickled drum machine gives me more kicks than a thousand guitars, T.Rex excepted. I’m a little late to Acid Jeep, one of Defunkt’s resident artists, but so are most of you, I reckon. And what a party! The luscious hoohaw of the plump fake tom-toms, the wiggly resonance of the Q-Bert synths, the attenuated-accent hi-hats — this is straight acid house.
While it was once easy to take acid house for granted if you hung out in enough after-hours clubs and late-night parties, such times are more rare, Defunkt crews and NTH notwithstanding. For the commonweal, Acid Jeep should be trapped in an oversized bell jar with all apparatus welded in such a position that it remains permanently on. See that I’m right at tonight's Defunkt 8 at Alley Kat. TEX KERSCHEN
Photo by Daniel Jackson/Courtesy of Catch Fever
This super-catchy, electronics-loving indie-pop act is going for broke – just not literally, they hope. Earlier this month, Taylor Huffman and Josh Wilson announced they've decided to ditch their day jobs to pursue music full-time, and more power to 'em. Catch Fever recently recorded an EP at Austin's The Orb studios, titled You Have All You Need and co-produced by thelastplaceyoulook's Justin Nava, and have set up an IndieGoGo campaign to cover the rest of the tab. Seeking $8,000 for touring and marketing costs, while hoping for an April release, the band is offering perks like digital downloads ($10); personalized birthday messages ($30); a “serenade” session for you and 30 of your closest friends ($500); and dinner with the guys for $1,000. Sorry, kids – the dream date at Top Golf is already taken. CHRIS GRAY
“While the House Fills Up” (song/video)
Houston's favorite “Latin boy band” (cough) is back in your eye- and earholes with prime '80s college-radio jangle not unlike the Go-Betweens that also betrays a hint of Talking Heads' bleached Afropop. If the whiff of Ralph Lauren wasn't strong enough – say, is that Polo Red Intense you're wearing? — the guys head over to the Galleria to skate around in the video, rocking some #veryjazzed turtlenecks and headsets. Shots for everyone! CHRIS GRAY
Although an experienced band, Die Fast's latest incarnation – self-described as “KISS on speed” – is impressive. Longtime Houston favorite Tod Waters (formerly of Spunk fame) has relocated his band from Los Angeles, and is playing with the likes of guitarist Chris LaForge (30FootFALL) bassist Rudy Olivarez (Hell’s Engine) and drummer Chris Moye (ex-Nine Seconds). We were lucky enough to hear three songs during a rehearsal session at Francisco Studios. Fast, aggressive and actually much better than KISS on speed, Die Fast sounds like our new favorite local band. If you still need convincing, see their (semi) inaugural Houston performance at Eastdown Warehouse March 26 with Commie Hilfiger, Bury the Crown and American Heist. KRISTY LOYE
DJ ORANGE CALDERON
By her own accord, even though DJ Orange Calderón splits her time between Houston, Los Angeles and other far-off locales, "you can take the girl outta Houston, but she still gon' po' up and chop music slow'd up.” The H-Town native was ecstatic when Kanye West discarded "Swish" as the moniker for his current album and decided to adopt the name for her newest mix. With her manicured finger on the pulse of the newest and hottest club anthems, Orange delivers perfectly selected tracks mixed in her own smooth, bossy and vibrant style. MARCO TORRES
KEMO FOR EMO
“The Cause/The Straightline” (video)
This month the veteran pop-punks unveiled videos for “The Cause” and “The Straightline.” Both tracks come from their new album, A Picture Perfect Romance, and combining the songs in one film allowed the band time to visually express the songs’ themes of grief and addiction. The latter of the two is a catchy, well-written tune that’s been on repeat in my YouTube plays, though. The video is also stirring, and features some familiar Houston music faces. According to Kemo guitarist Jake Rawls, this is the first in a series of videos planned to cover an entire storyline loosely based on the album; the band has a release party slated for next Saturday (March 5) at Fitzgerald’s. JESSE SENDEJAS JR.
MIKEY & THE DRAGS
Make You Mine (album)
On their first full-length, Make You Mine, Mikey and the Drags prove what we’ve all suspected all along — sixties garage rock isn’t rocket surgery. Tunes like “I’ve Got a Bottle” evince a strong preference for nuggets like the Music Machine’s monster 1966 hit “Talk, Talk,” and the entire affair is laden with Farfisa organ, power cords and “Dirty Water” attitude. Call it vintage rock, call it garage rock, there’s nothing new sonically here but it’s still fun party rock and roll. WILLIAM MICHAEL SMITH
OCEANS OF SLUMBER
Anticipation for Oceans of Slumber's upcoming Winter, due next Friday, couldn’t be more intense, especially since the band has been teasing fans with sneak-peek tracks through their social media for weeks. After hearing the entire LP, we can attest that Winter is a poignant and intelligent piece of music that will draw new prog-metal fans worldwide. While every song is tremendous in its depth and range, our personal favorite is their Moody Blues cover, “Nights in White Satin.” If you saw the video for Oceans' version of Candlemass’s “Solitude,” then you’re already familiar with the brilliance they can bring to a cover. Don't miss their in-store at Cactus Music next Saturday. KRISTY LOYE
T2 THE GHETTO HIPPIE
“Swang on 'Em” (song)
Step 1: Hop in your car.
Step 2: Swang on 'em.
The art of riding through the city of Houston is all the therapy Houston rapper T2 "The Ghetto Hippie" needs to deal with life's bullshit. From his recently released project A South West Side Story, the track meanders slow and smooth through your eardrums aided by the stellar production from HPMA-winning hitmaker Trakksounds. GT Garza drops in to deliver one of his signature verses dripped in his H-Town spitfire drawl.
I feel some type of way
when I hit that 45
Yeah I start to elevate
similar to getting high
And I swear that I could die
When I stare at that skyline!
Poetry at its finest! MARCO TORRES
“Life Is Just a Long Goodbye” (song)
Teasing us since last year with promises of new material, these hometown punk heroes are still putting together their upcoming release. However, we were lucky enough to get our anxious hands on a pre-release copy of this loud, angsty, truculent track and give it a few spins. It did not disappoint. If you need a 30FF live fix, try the Punk Rock Paddy’s Day Fest March 12 at Eastdown Warehouse, also with Dead Rabbits, Dead to the World and Patterns. KRISTY LOYE
Photo courtesy of Gerritt Wittmer
"Unknowns" (recording)/Live performance
Imagine every unnaturally heavy pause, every ominous scrape, creak and asphyxiated whisper, every muted scream, every rising note that abruptly trails off, each alien growl, every plaintive bell and forlorn metallic mewl, and finally every decibel of the inescapable mayhem that is at last unleashed and unmuzzled in the interest of eviscerating your presence of mind, from the foleys and scores to every horror movie you’ve ever seen, and you’ll be at least superficially familiar with the more obvious half of the vocabulary of sounds over which Gerritt Wittmer serenely presides.
With “Unknowns,” his new release on No Rent records, fellow noise maven Jason Crumer’s cassette label, the downtime and silence is as important to the dynamic as the glyphic tics, the electronic voice phenomena, the traces of rotor blades spinning and the pings of supradigital distortion. It’s like an answering machine recording of the spectral end of a seance, a chilling invocation of the future, at least the part of it that lies beyond the gate.
During his brief set February 13 at Notsuoh, Mr. Wittmer slowly stalked the perimeter of the makeshift stage area upstairs, reciting a dissociative litany that devolved into him repeating “Time is a lie” through a vocal transformer that had rendered his voice a gargle that resembled as much a sea anemone as a person drowning in his own blood. The rest of his set seethed with transmissions from the unknown and unknowable, alternately quiet, purposefully reduced to a volume below conversational level, a deep listening volume, and louder, the machine-spasms and death yells introduced in bursts and fits, not increments or gradients.
Though he uses a lot of almost recognizable sounds, Mr. Wittmer’s music is in a foreign tongue, like Wittgenstein’s axiom, “If a lion could speak, we still wouldn’t be able to understand it.” Except these would be no lions but the formless creatures that live in the interminable emptiness between the pulsars and stretched crabs in the cold plains of deep space and deep ocean. TEX KERSCHEN
“That's What I Did” (song/video)
I don’t know whether Kanye West has lost his damn mind or not, but I am pretty sure the best rap-game psychiatrist he could summon might be Z-Ro. Stretched out on a couch somewhere in a Mo City office, West would be allowed to mumble about missing “the old Kanye, the 'straight from the 'go Kanye,” while Dr. Z-Ro calmly nodded his head compassionately. Then, he’d bump “That’s What I Did” right there in a clinical setting to remind West that being accomplished is about more than shiny trophies (or, shiny trophy wives). Maybe only someone like ’Ro could bring him back with lines like, “Didn’t have to sell my soul for this shit, either, I just hustled, that’s what I did.” Maybe West wouldn’t take the medicine, but this is what I’m stirring in my drink these days. JESSE SENDEJAS JR.
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