Another school year is quickly drawing to a close. Area students are not only looking forward to a reprieve from pencils, books and teachers’ dirty looks, they’re also ready to catch up on all the music they may have missed while writing term papers or studying for final exams. As we've done in the past, the Press tabbed a couple of Houston-area students to share their thoughts on some of that music. And, as before, the music we asked the students to review are by Houston bands, in the hopes they’d turn any uninformed peers onto something new and accessible.
This time around, Hanah Halim, a student at Travis High School in Fort Bend ISD, and Angel Vega, a South Houston High School junior, turned “instant music critic” for us. Halim offered her opinions of Half a Native, the latest effort by New York Times-tapped indie cools Buxton, and Vega handled Disfrutalo!’s guitar-intense 2014 self-titled album. They also penned the brief bios that follow their entries.
Special thanks to the mega-awesome teachers who helped us find these talents. We’re no teachers, but, if we had to grade the work, we’d give our “Special Correspondents” an A for “Awww, yeah! Nice job!” On to the reviews:
By Angel Vega
The band Disfrutalo caught my ear because of the way their music sounds, the way they combined multiple genres and made it into a real psychedelic groove. I really admire the way a musician can just mix different genres in one and make something that no one has never heard of. From my perspective, that’s what you call a real artist: someone who can just come up with the unknown. One of my favorite songs from the album is probably "Earwax Hash" because it was so catchy. The way Disfrutalo plays and the music that I listen to are very similar to bands like Tame Impala and The Sizlacks; they’re very calm and pleasant.
Angel Vega is a student at South Houston High School, and says: “I enjoy music very much no matter what the genre is. I’m a big music fanatic, one of my favorite bands is probably Rings of Saturn, a death-metal band from California that came out in 2009. They’ve been a big influence upon me because the way they play is so fast and technical that they’ve came up their own way of playing called aliencore. This excited me and has ever since, it has always been an aspiration of mine for being a guitarist, to make my own music and inspire society worldwide like I have been inspired. The categories of music I’m most interested in are heavy metal, death metal and pretty much anything that is metal. Many different genres come to mind that have influenced me to play their way of music, but it’s never gotten to the point of serious technicality within the instruments.”
Buxton: Half a Native
By Hanah Halim
Buxton’s newly released album Half a Native has been their most optimistic record yet, but still has that bittersweet atmosphere about it. The hazy thoughtfulness in their songs recognizes what life and romance is about and what it means to experience the pain and pleasure that comes with love. This folk-rock band has come a long way since guitarist/vocalist Sergio Trevino joined multi-instrumentalist Jason Willis and bassist Chris Wise to record their album Red follows Red in 2005. They continued to produce more country pop/rock music for four years including their album A Family Light before adding drummer Justin Terrell in 2009 and guitarist/keyboard player Austin Sepalvado in 2010. In 2012 they released their album Nothing Here Seems Strange, which was their first release on New West Records. For their most recent album, Half a Native, Buxton worked with an outside producer for the first time and went to record in Los Angeles with Thom Monahan (Devendra Banhart, Vetiver).
Half a Native has a variety of moods that paints a different picture with every song that is played. While some songs seem more melancholy, others have more of an upbeat tone. “Old Haunt” is filled with a nice steady beat of the drums and the soft strum of their guitars that creates a plaintive mood, while “Icebreaker” has a faster, more intense beat that creates a playful and almost joyous atmosphere. But the song that stood out the most was “Half a Native.” The gentle use of their instruments and the serene tone of the vocalist had an amazing affect that was both wistful and sentimental to many people. All 11 songs in this album were very enjoyable and worth listening to all night.
Hanah Fatimah Halim is a High School student living in Sugar Land with her mom, dad, her sister Noor, and her brother Osman. Her family moved here from Kingsville, Tex. in 2006. She is 15 years old and currently attending Travis High School where she spends most of her time reading, drawing and writing. When she doesn’t have her nose stuck in a book she will most likely be drawing in her sketchbook or day dreaming in class. Basically avoiding the assignments she should be working on in school. But she is a dedicated and hardworking student and hopes to become a professional writer/artist in the future.