Spring Cleaning: 11 Houston Acts That Should Be On Your Radar

Michelle Miears of MIEARS
Michelle Miears of MIEARS
Photo by Jason McElweenie
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The perennial link between spring and fertility need not be explored yet again here, except to point out that it’s an especially opportune moment to look around and take stock, yet again, of the homegrown musical bounty that Houston enjoys. With that in mind, the Houston Press asked several of our regular Music contributors to send us a few lines about whatever local act they happen to be digging the most at the moment. It would be incorrect to call all of the following artists “new” — some of them, more than others, have been bouncing around the Bayou City for quite a while now — but not to say that all of them deserve a listen or two with fresh ears.

You could set your clocks to bands like Dead Time, KA, and Milk Leg, but some of the time you might arrive places too early, at other times too late. Fortunately, time is not a factor, as daddy doesn’t make the rounds these days so much as hover in the murk, mouth agape like some kind of free-floating appetite possessed of only a partially developed central nervous system. As much of a dead-end prospect as Houston is for most groups, there’s been a remarkable drought of fun new bands of an anti-commercial nature for some long time, and now, the deluge. Squealing and blatting and snarling and scraping scabs and crusts off the 60-thread-count sheets of modern comforts might make for an uneasy set at the local gastropub, but happily there’s more to a voluntary stay in this giant petrochemical lunatic asylum than beer and burgers. The raw stuff is medicine, the more astringent, the better. TEX KERSCHEN

The most famous line of T.S. Eliot's most complex poem, The Waste Land, "April is the cruellest month," could be applied to most emo music. However, for Houston's own Football, etc. this spring has proven to be plentiful. Their latest album Corner is slated for a release in May off Community Records. I caught the trio live for the first time last month at Satellite Bar and immediately was taken aback to the early aughts, when gauge earrings and heavy black eyeliner were prime fashion standards. I was impressed with the throwback chord progressions and confessional-style lyrics from singer Lindsay Minton as well as the engaging performances from drummer Daniel Hawkins and bassist Mercy Harper. Get ready to rock all the feels for the upcoming emo revival. VERONICA A. SALINAS

Michelle Miears has captivated many fans with one of the most distinct and identifiable voices in the Houston music scene. Whether performing as a solo artist under the moniker of MIEARS or with acclaimed band BLSHS, she is committed to making concertgoers feel her words through the thoughtful lyrics and steady gaze during her live performances. With the recent release of her solo debut, Who Will Save You?, the multi-talented Miears has once again thrilled local music fans by performing and producing the entire EP herself. Expect to start hearing more of a buzz as Free Press Summer Fest draws near as greater exposure to a larger and younger crowd beckons for Houston's synth-pop queen. JACK GORMAN

Arising from a musical gene pool that includes Commie Hilfiger, Bury the Crown, Bitter Taste and Nine Minutes, among others, Patterns (or Patterns HTX) originally took shape as a recording project of Girth brothers Ryan and Erik. With a couple more friends helping out, last December they issued Like Ships to Sirens, a breakneck 34-minute tour of the gnarlier guitar-rock genres that usually come packaged under the suffix “core.” Despite the relatively brief running time, Sirens squeezes enough tortured vocals, frantic rhythms and heat-seeking riffs into its nine songs that it feels like a much longer record. It also feels like playing these songs live, which they will during Friday's "Girthday" extravaganza at Satellite Bar (although soon-to-be-groom Ryan Girth has since left the group to focus on matrimonial matters), must be exhausting. CHRIS GRAY

Rosewood Thievz carry a classy elegance not usually seen in a town famous for Tippin' and Sippin'. They can seemlessly move between cerebral hip-hop and buttery-smooth R&B without any disruption in mood or musicality. Yet if you ask them to define their sound, they'll sum it up in one word, "groove," which may indeed be the perfect response. Formed in 2012 in Third Ward, the diversely talented Killa Swami, Big Game James and Joe-yo release a vibe of earthy realness, a sapiosexual essence that's intoxicating to watch and compelling to hear. Brave enough to celebrate all facets of Southern sounds (even zydeco), Rosewood's music is continally surprising, but the trio is more than that, too. Active community members, they even do things like create historical video lessons with the Buffalo Soldier Museum. Rosewood Thievz are the kind of trio that only H-Town could create — a mix of alternative hip hop, funk, and groove played with a humid thickness that feels like the soundtrack of the Bayou City on a hot and steamy day. KRISTY LOYE

The Smashed Idols at the White Swan last weekend
The Smashed Idols at the White Swan last weekend
Photo by Jesse Sendejas Jr.

Once it was evident that America was going to “become great again,” punks were predicting new anthems to move people to action. We need those songs, but the music would become one-dimensional and yawn-inducing if that’s all punk rock was. We also need songs about alien invasions and the horror of cutting oneself shaving.  That’s why I’ve been listening to tracks by The Smashed Idols the last week or two. The band’s members might have political predilections and opinions, but they’re not evident in tunes which are reminiscent of the Bloodhound Gang (“Bring the Invasion,” “Make Your Toes Curl”) or The Vandals ("Alien Song").  Onstage, they kick their frenetic set off with the theme song from the classic Saturday-morning cartoon Land of the Lost.  Considering the divide that exists between Americans in the Trump era, maybe that’s actually a clever, subtle political statement all its own. JESSE SENDEJAS JR.

Fortune favors the bold. A bold step is leaving what is settled ground for you and heading elsewhere to figure it all out. While other Houstonians have taken residency in New York and Los Angeles, Cam Wallace has built his world in Atlanta. Producing for Ciara and Sevyn Streeter has helped sharpen his ear, a cavern built on R&B-tinged melodies and pop senses. In his own time, Wallace has to be forced to release his own material, growing from traditional raps to a middle ground where syncopated drums match his voice and tenor. Last year, he released his Massive album featuring the woozy and intoxicating “Unwind” (featured above). Then he guested on Slim Thug’s Welcome 2 Houston before closing things up with a guest spot on Mack Wilds’ recently released AfterHours album. R&B singers in Houston either chase soul or the groove. As both producer and artist, Cam Wallace wants to unify the two, not just for late nights down 59 but for every day soon after. BRANDON CALDWELL

You may not have heard this name yet, and for good reason — the band has only played two shows so far. That being said, they're still impressing the crowds left and right. Warlung, a quartet featuring former members of Houston's RIVERS and The Dead Revolt, have crafted a sound that feels equal parts psychedelic, rock and roll, and metal for something that feels both of the times and ahead of them. Their most recent live performance had them opening at Walter's for Austin-based The Well and Dallas' own Wo Fat. With promises of a physical release on the horizon, this promising band bears keeping a close eye on. ALYSSA DUPREE

Walking the line between earnest and acrimonious lyricism has been a staple of pop-punk since it began, and Waterparks continues that tradition. Houston's own pop-punk trio had two EPs to their name before signing with New York-based Equal Vision and releasing Double Dare, a 44-minute triumph of all things pop, punk and electronic. Their 2016 major label debut is rife with sing-songy verses, anthemic choruses and, of course, sarcasm. It's a must-listen for pop-punk fans, even if many of us are getting a bit long in the tooth. Double Dare was produced by Good Charlotte's Benji Madden, providing Waterparks with some insight into how to craft a chart-topping album. The likes of Good Charlotte paved the way for Waterparks' success, and the Bayou City pop-punk revival act is building on the groundwork while adding their own panache. And it sounds damn good. MATTHEW KEEVER

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