Back in September Rocks Off brought you our choices for "10 Houston Acts You Should Be Listening To." But this is an action town.
DEEP CUTS Texas bands have been mingling rock and Tex-Mex sounds for a couple of generations now with some pretty spiffy results, if the names Sir Douglas Quintet and Joe "King" Carrasco mean anything to you. Now we have Deep Cuts, who sprang out of warmly regarded local indie-rockers The Ride Home a couple of years ago. Their activity looks like it's picking up: they're playing Buxton's ten-year anniversary show this coming Saturday and our own Houston Press Artopia on January 26.
Although Deep Cuts' output is limited so far -- an EP in 2011 and now "Slow Descent," from an album they promise is forthcoming -- it's got enough jangle and echo to easily catch the fancy of Band of Horses or Featherface fans. It's enough that we know Deep Cuts can do a little bolero ("Meta Girl") or Flamenco-style guitar flourishes; somebody get these boys a Vox organ and see what they can do with that. CHRIS GRAY
DIE YOUNG (TX) This band may be saddled with the unfortunate and unnecessary clarification that they're the Texas Die Young -- not the California one -- but their music is unburdened by such trivial matters. Instead these melodic hardcore masterminds have been kicking Houston's ass and educating us with their high-minded sociopolitical lyrics since 2002.
They broke up in 2009, but fear not: perhaps inspired by the new wave of hardcore in Houston, they're reuniting for Fallcore Fest at Walters on December 7, and will be recording two new records in 2014 to show these kids how it's done. COREY DEITERMAN
FINNEGAN Finnegan have had a quiet couple of years, but their reemergence has the local music community buzzing. In 2012, the members were busy getting married and starting families, but this year they've made more time to gig -- they played this past Friday at Walters -- and, even more exciting, record a few new tunes. The seven-member group's wide-ranging sound includes duet-style harmonies, intricate melodies and heartfelt lyrics. With so many families now in tow, Finnegan's sophomore release is sure to be even more emotive than the band's first album. MATTHEW KEEVER
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INFINITE APACHES If you're looking for a Houston music "Rookie of the Year," look no further than Infinite Apaches. Although they're technically a few years old, one local media watcher after another became enchanted by this five-piece in 2013: KTRU, Free Press Houston -- whose Ramon Medina knows from rambling psych-rock bands, as a longtime member of Linus Pauling Quartet -- Space City Rock, some place new to us called The Horn, and so on. Even us, back at the FPH New Year's Eve 2012 Cataclysm.
The Apaches don't even try to disguise or apologize for being retro, but never turn malevolent while treating listeners to the myriad twists and turns lurking in their songs; take their Bandcamp download Suave Creation of the Monolithic Other out for a spin sometime, but only if you're lying down. Or imagine the Black Angels without someone slipping brown acid into their Shiner Bock. CHRIS GRAY
KENNY THE SPIDER Kenny the Spider is the on-again, off-again project of former Three Fantastic front man Charles Peters, who also has a simultaneous solo project in action and an apparently stellar attention span. Most recently back on, KTS is planning an upcoming album release and actively playing around town again after a prolonged hiatus last year.
Originally conceived as a cover band, Kenny the Spider quickly developed a sound of its own that is both heavy-handed and refreshingly raw -- reminiscent of but not easily categorized as Southern rock, complete with ample and sometimes even competing guitar solos and topped of by juxtaposed vocals that are both growling and melodic at the same time. The brainchild of a homegrown, local (and authentic) cowboy, Spider is easily deserving of the quintessential "Made in Texas" brand -- as well as a listen from anyone who enjoys good, old-fashioned, down-and-dirty rock and roll.
The guys will be at Conroe's Red Brick Tavern (aka good-ole-boy country) Wednesday night, November 27. LEILA CHEMAM-ALFARO
MIKEY & THE DRAGS It seems like every day that a new band makes its live debut in Houston. It's also apparent that most of those bands fizzle out in the long run. Mikey and the Drags have made it past that initial hump, and have started to pull in bigger and bigger crowds each time they hit the stage.
They're the type of band that you need to see late at night in a small dank club after you've put a few (dozen) down to really appreciate their greatness. Their garage-y surf-punk sound hasn't really been touched on in the Houston scene, but it was obviously a void that needed to be filled. A few of the other members might look familiar from other Houston bands (drummer Andrew Lee plays guitar with Wild Moccasins; organist Austin Sepulvado plays guitar in Buxton), but front man Miguel "Mikey" Ponce who really draws people in. His energy is unmatched by anyone else fronting a band these days in Houston, which is quite addictive when seeing them live.
The Drags have got a really good thing going on, but despite the members' busy schedules with their other projects, they still have quite the promising future. Just make sure to go check them out live next time they play (November 30 at the Orange Show's annual Foamraiser). You'll be a sweaty mess by the end of the show, but without a doubt will be clamoring for more. I guarantee it. Seriously. Go see them. If you don't like them I'll refund your ticket price. If you do like them, buy their records and merch. JIM BRICKER
DEWAYNE JACKSON At 18 years old, Dewayne Jackson should still be sitting in someone's classroom trying his best to soak up knowledge like a sponge. Instead the elastic rapper has been spending his time on select Houston stages, trying to soak up every bright light imaginable. Onstage every fluid word Jackson utters from behind the microphone gets its own signature move or wiggle.
On wax, such as the thought-provoking and introspective "Metaphors," he constantly questions why can't he be like the rappers who adorn his bedroom wall -- all of whom that have gained some credible stature over the past six years or so. His latest mixtape, WhoIsHe?, lands today. BRANDO
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SCARECROW THE MONKEY Two weeks ago I was heading to AvantGarden for open-mike night when my friend called and said, "Get up here, there's a guy with a stuffed baboon from the shoulders up, and it's sitting at the bar." In my mind, I thought it was a stuffed animal. Wrong. Scarecrow the Monkey is a two-man duo, three if you count the real, mounted baboon they carry around (props to their taxidermist). Onstage, one guy sings while the other simply sits and watches, and it'd be so easy to write them off as a joke.
Instead, Scarecrow the Monkey took their 15 minutes of open-mike fame and made themselves memorable in a way that other artists -- heartfelt singer-songwriters and crooning, hopeful pop stars -- haven't. With a sound that blends alternative, folk and rock, Scarecrow the Monkey actually have a strong foundation.
Sure, they venture a little into performance-art territory, bringing their own lighting, fog machine, and fake trees to even the smallest performance, but people said Lady Gaga was weird and look at her now. These guys might not be the thing Houston is looking for, but they deserve your attention. Let's just hope they set something up other than a ReverbNation page. ALYSSA DUPREE
HANNAH SMITH I'm not going to say that Hannah Smith is the best of the roughly 270,000 singer-songwriters operating in the greater Houston area, but she's one worth keeping an eye on. Her raw talent is pretty clear, be it on the Kaki King-esque "Ocean" or her more traditional tribute to a friend who passed away, David's Song." It'll be interesting to hear how her sound develops, especially after she hits the road in 2014. CORY GARCIA
VIN ZEAL Whatever era of folk music decided to spawn Vin Zeal, we must thank it. For a 13-year-old girl, she has a quiet mysticism about her, the kind of charm that easily wins over a crowd without her having to pull off much. However, the moment she picks up a guitar, tunes up and begins singing, you realize we're digging into talent not normally spotted so early.
Her debut single, "In The Dark," was released over the summer, with melodic acoustic guitars swept by thunderclap beats as Zeal's vocals come chirping through like the sun on the nape of your neck. BRANDO
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