The Best Houston Music We Heard in May
Good to see you again, Kyle Hubbard.
Photo by Paul Davis
Yes, Kyle Hubbard did get some love in last month’s installment; but blame my colleague Nathan Smith for turning me on to Hubbard’s Four Free EP. The album’s first song, “Turning Heel,” is pretty tongue-in-cheek, I’d guess. Having had a ten-minute conversation with Hubbard ahead of his show at Nightingale Room last Friday, I found him genial, humble and even a little self-deprecating; so, it was a true flick of the entertainer switch when he opened with this brash, no-more-Mr. Nice Guy declaration.
“Turning Heel” is a wrestling term for when good guys go bad. The track is complete with quotes from pro wrestler CM Punk. Meeting Hubbard suggests his “heel” act is as scripted as pro wrestling; but, in the ultra-competitive world of Houston rap, one never knows. He may just prove to be the baddest villain of ‘em all. JESSE SENDEJAS JR.
The Night Goes on for Days (LP)
Picked up Jealous Creatures' new one, The Night Goes on for Days, on vinyl recently because the guy manning the register at Heights Vinyl said I wouldn't be disappointed. He wasn't wrong. The Houston-based quartet, with whom I was previously unfamiliar, is at its best while moody, particularly on tracks like "You Can Trust Me" and "Tamed." Once I fully wrap my head around Night Goes On, I'm looking forward to diving into the Creatures' full catalog. I'm also looking forward to checking them out when they play Satellite Bar on June 25. CLINT HALE
I caught Genesis B.L.U. supporting Teyana Taylor at House of Blues a few weeks back. Her style was sharp, witty and fierce — the woman had no problem rapping solo onstage in front of hundreds of fans and even winning them over to her performance. She interacted with the fans and even dropped serious wisdom from a woman who knows how to deliver a message worth hearing. Duly impressed, I had the opportunity to meet her in the Foundation Room at the show, and was in awe that such fire came in a smart, tiny package who was not only warm and well-spoken but a delight as a person. Catch her next gig dropping more fire May 31 at the Nightingale Room (7 p.m.). KRISTY LOYE
On Cinco de Mayo, at a club in Montrose that was honoring the late, great Selena, I met a young man named Alex. We chatted for a bit, and he told me that he was a musician. I wasn't sure what I expected, but I definitely didn't expect to hear such a versatile, eclectic and polished EP. He performs again tonight at Satellite Bar, opening for Austin's Greyhound. Hear his three-track debut at alex-riddle.com. MATTHEW KEEVER
BOAN can’t be contained. Not to one language, not to one city, and not by any stretch of the imagination into any form of docility. Sure, you could pull the power and watch the cue lights on their synthesizers and drum machines go dark, but then they’d really become inclined to scare the church. Forget your hardcore, forget your free jazz, forget your rock and roll, forget all the new Darby Crashes (but only for a minute, for goodness’ sake, for truly they are lovely): BOAN is trouble with a capital B for Babylonian sacrifice. Maybe you’re too young to remember local bacchae TENSE, or MKF, but they were trouble, too, with a similar fondness for big beats, leather appurtenances and breaking glasses. Certainly, you don’t remember RUA Minx, when they were a band and not an art thing, but they were burning up hearts and causing chaos years ago. All I’m trying to say is this: One shouldn’t bandy weak words like synthpop where BOAN is concerned, for there is nothing beige in this coffee. Electrogenius Jose Cota brings it rough but plays it funky, and I’ve seen BOAN singer Mariana Saldana rain down hell on bars all over the country. Sure, all of us here are of a quiet nature, with our dispositions long trained to shy away from scandal and danger, yet BOAN would see us all drawn and quartered, with only our skulls preserved, for later use as tumblers for middle-shelf well drinks. TEX KERSCHEN
FROG HAIR/YOUNG MAMMALS
I finally made it to Satellite Bar on Harrisburg, where my new favorite local band, Frog Hair, was opening for Austin rockers A Giant Dog. Local vets Young Mammals took the middle slot, and both local bands turned in blistering, confident sets. Frog Hair continues to impress, with former Pain Teens guitarist Scott Ayers putting on a clinic in how to combine lap-steel country licks with atmospheric noise-rock. If someone asked what a Houston sound is, right now I'd have to point to Frog Hair. The Mammals had the unenviable task of following Frog Hair, but pulled it off with a tight set of guitar-screaming originals as bed-head guitarist Cley Miller showed why he's in the top echelons of Houston shredders. The sound tech could have given Mammals a better mix, as the vocals were mostly buried in the wall of sound whereas the Frog Hair mix was bright and clear. Both of these bands deserve more support and bigger venues. WILLIAM MICHAEL SMITH
THE REAL MCCOYS
“Til You’re Gone”
Some artists you just love, and, for me, Josh Raught is one of them. Whatever project he’s been associated with – the jocular nerd band Ha Ha 90! or the stout-swizzlin’ Dead Rabbits – it's automatically been better because of his association. He shared duties with others in those bands, but you’re getting the real Raught in the Real McCoys. He’s assembled a fine group here, but he’s the wild heart pumping lifeblood into the band, which is nearly done recording its debut album. One of its best early songs is “Til You’re Gone,” a contemplation on how much of yourself you’re willing to sacrifice for some cause before you just can’t anymore. It’s also a reminder of how little time you have to waste on these dead ends before you’re truly and finally gone. Once, in his Ha Ha 90! days, Raught sang about someone’s ass looking like 200 pounds of chewed bubble gum. Now, years later, he’s a dad and his songwriting is taking a more personal and introspective turn. But even when the songs are more sober, he still blesses them with titles like “Kankles and Hot Pocket Sundays.” JESSE SENDEJAS JR.
I caught wind of Lyric Michelle while I was putting together the XX Chromosome Mixtape, and it's been burning in my brain ever since. Her latest album, MissDirection, is smart and trenchant, yet vulnerable and ambivalent, with wry nods to the ugliness of the world in which she tries to hone her craft. The past few years have seen rap music amplify its political voices, but MissDirection makes the personal political, using sick hooks and dexterous rhymes to navigate the vicissitudes of heartbreak, liars, poverty and sound. "My mission is to birth a new way of thinking," she sings on "Intro," "but you keep bringing me these contraceptives," gesturing toward the challenges of staying true to one's voice in a musical climate full of constraints. Rumor has it that Lyric Michelle is debuting some new music on May 31 at the Nightingale Room, which just happens to be one of our favorite venues right now. Houston, you have no excuse. Go support one of our city's most honest, poetic and tenacious artists. KATIE SULLIVAN
Blackened Sludge Gumbo
I was lucky enough to make an appearance on PunkStar.com radio last week and while I enjoyed my time, I was struck by the talent of the other guests. Self-described “blackened sludge gumbo" (fair enough), Old Skull is a four-piece group from Houston playing some dark and heavy metal with a look of old-school Motörhead (just check out the vocalist). Vocalist Jae Phantom has a voice with the kind of raspy quality of Cultes des Ghoules or Mayhem. Obviously, I was drawn in from the first song. Influenced by bands like Weedeater, Soilent Green and Goatwhore, Old Skull bring the dark nuances of metal to some tasty new tracks. KRISTY LOYE
"My Boo (remix)"
Chingo does it again! Tip-toeing the line between parody and seriously creative expression, Mr. Bling capitalized on the viral attention to the classic "My Boo" track and releases his own version. Sass! MARCO TORRES
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