Houston Music

10 Houston Acts You Should Be Listening To

Did you know that Football, etc., a Houston band with a very low profile in the local music scene, has more than 4,000 Facebook likes? This is because the emo-rock trio duo, which moved to Houston from New Jersey about five years ago, is being played on college-radio stations across the country thanks to their new album Audible. Congratulations, y'all.

Football surfaces to play a show at Mango's once in a while, but not often. They're too busy plugging away at small clubs, house shows, and festivals, even making the occasional summer-holiday hop to Europe. But they got us thinking about other locals who perhaps may not be getting the attention around here they perhaps should. By way of a mea culpa, Rocks Off asked our crew to tell us a few more Houston acts that deserve a wider local audience. No doubt we'll do this again sometime.

BLSHS It's probably silly to start championing a band that's only released one song, but when that one song is the rather amazing "Just Wait" it's worth the potential embarrassment. That retro-'80s synthpop thing is all the rage right now, but "Just Wait" does it in a way that doesn't feel forced or cliche.

The music is on point -- somehow retro and modern at the same time -- and vocalist Michelle Miears has a beautiful, dynamic voice. "Hang tight, just wait around for me," the song requests, but I for one hope their EP gets here ASAP. CORY GARCIA

Football, etc. I don't know if "emo" is making a resurgence like the Internet wants me to believe, but I am glad that the buzz the genre has lead me to the locals in Football, Etc. Forget the labels: F,E rule because they write solid three minute tracks with beautiful guitarwork and heartfelt vocals. They're simple songs that find their way straight to your heart, even on the first listen when you're not entirely sure what they're singing about. CORY GARCIA

Fox & Cats Sometimes I can't tell if I'm out of touch or if things are just coming back around for a revival. For instance, I don't know how people are feeling these days about pop-punk with a dash of emo, but I for one have been quite impressed with Fox & Cats. They're a very straightforward, unpretentious duo who writes catchy-as-all-hell tunes and delivers them with energy and sincerity. They put on a great live show with confidence and gusto, and have the stage presence of a much more seasoned band.

Really, you kind of get the feeling these two are just a little too young to be this good. Frankly it makes me suspicious. Of what, I don't know. That weird thing that Tour de France winners do where they take out a bunch of blood and then put it back in right before a race? Does that affect songwriting? Anyway, they're nice kids, as evidenced by the fact that they put their entire EP up on YouTube, so you can listen to it at work. JOHN SEABORN GRAY

More worthy local acts on the next page.

Giant Battle Monster While their music is so weird it's probably understandable math-rock band Giant Battle Monster hasn't exactly taken Houston by storm, it's a shame that their brilliant and absolutely insane brand of music doesn't capture more imaginations. It's especially a shame because they're so hard-working.

This is a band who lost two-thirds of its membership and still managed to tour Japan DIY. If that accomplishment doesn't impress you, just check out their musicianship. These guys are the real deal, and the exact kind of weirdness you could only find in Houston. COREY DEITERMAN

iLL LiAD iLL LiAD is full of surprises, from his genuine infatuation with Homer --"[his] were the only books I fell in love with as a child," he says -- to the synth-y, "electro-hop" sound of his new single 'Rise & Fall.'

It's that signature style paired with provocative (sometimes inflammatory) lyrics, as well as a handful of high-profile opening slots for Lunaface Productions shows, that have helped this enigmatic rapper beat the "odds" he felt the Houston scene once had leveled against him. With his sophomore album, The Odyssey, due for release next Friday and an upcoming gig with Local Theory, iLL LiAD is poised to join a group of elite young artists who are effectively recreating the standard sound of Houston hip-hop. LEILA CHEMAM-ALFARO

Legion I've written before about my budding fandom for Legion, the very young, very fast speed metal band from Sugar Land. The group just released its first album on Ft. Worth's Metal Rising Records: State of Decay. Everybody knows that a speed metal band's first album is always their most brutal, so don't skip it.

Legion's hyperspeed ditties about war, religion and government oppression manage to pay reverent tribute to the classic thrash of the early '80s while retaining a gonzo, ADD-addled millennial spirit. The band is going through a lineup shuffle at the moment, but they seem just a little too close to making a name for themselves to quit now. Jump in a circle pit and give 'em a shot. NATHAN SMITH

The Manichean Let's talk about showmanship, folks. Plenty of local acts have it, but none quite like The Manichean. To be fair, The Manichean don't just put on concerts; their live performances are an experience for your eyes, ears and mind. As much theater as it is music, Cory Sinclair and Justice Tirapelli-Jamail's band is something every Houstonian should experience, interpret and enjoy for themselves.

All of their music amounts to concept albums, as the Houston duo regale listeners with stories of love, heartache, loyalty and betrayal, rarely told from the perspective of a reliable narrator. Even when I'm not quite sure what's happening, it's always one hell of a ride. MATTHEW KEEVER

Still more locals on the next page.

Nick Greer & the G's This funky, upbeat and altogether compelling act has got to be one of the most fun groups to come out of Houston since I started paying attention to our local music scene. Whether jamming out to the energetic cuts "Black Cadillac," "Money" and "Keep On" or slowing it down for the more intimate cuts, Greer and crew will get your feet moving despite your vain attempts to resist.

Also, after his performance at last month's HPMAs, I briefly spoke with Greer about the group's next album, which he told me will put their eponymous debut to shame. MATTHEW KEEVER

Spilling the Beans/Stay at Home Mom Two Houston bands deserving of a larger audience are Spilling the Beans and Stay at Home Mom. Both are pop punk acts - the former is acoustic and the latter is amplified -- and both are the brainchildren of musical spouses, Ali and Andrew Hoskins.

The Hoskinses are well-known in Houston's next-generation, post-Southmore-House punk scene. Andrew's RadioFlyer is loads of bluegrass fun with some of the most joyful and heartwarming lyrics you'll ever find in a punk song. But Spilling the Beans and Stay At Home Mom showcase Ali's talents. She's the vocalist for both groups, and her voice has an odd element of 1940s pop in it. Think Kay Starr meets Exene Cervenka and you'll be nearly there.

First and foremost, she's a writer, one with a very specific bent - she's a mom. Her blog, screamingmom.wordpress.com, expounds on the subject of many of these bands' songs, namely what it's like to be a mom with responsibilities standing with one foot in and one out of the punk scene.

Spilling the Beans is pared down to Andrew on guitar or ukulele, with Ali singing about the "Self-Pity" of being housebound with kids while her old friends are out partying. They even have a children's song, "Turtle," that happily crawls its way into your memory.

Stay at Home Mom is edgier stuff, billed as "pissed-off music for pissed-off moms," with Andrew on bass, Ryan Preble on guitar and Adam Wolfson of Adam and the Ancient Gods on drums. Ali stands at the foreground singing from the band's five-song EP, selections like "Drown the Kids" with lyrics like "You better not go to work today/ I'm gonna drown the kids/ In the bathroom where there's no one around/ I just might lose my shit/... I'm gonna drown the kids/If I don't get out of this house."

I've never been a mom, but I've known a few and this could be the next core ("momcore"?) to emerge. The same audience they televise Dr. Phil and The Chew for could definitely identify with these songs about post-partum depression, deadbeat dads, and feeling unappreciated and trapped in "a different kind of prostitution." It's not for the faint of heart, but neither is motherhood. JESSE SENDEJAS JR

Are you a Houston act you think we should know about? Let us know on Twitter at @hprocksoff.


The Ask Willie D Archives Top 10 Bars, Clubs & Ice Houses On the West Side Stephen King's Five Best Rock and Roll References Houston's Top 10 Bro Bars, Clubs & Ice Houses Nas' Biggest Fan Lives In Houston, With the Tattoos to Prove It

KEEP THE HOUSTON PRESS FREE... Since we started the Houston Press, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Houston, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
The Houston Press is a nationally award-winning, 33-year-old publication ruled by endless curiosity, a certain amount of irreverence, the desire to get to the truth and to point out the absurd as well as the glorious.
Contact: Houston Press