10. Born Liars, Show Some Couth Show Some Couth has yet to make its way to iTunes, no doubt because those Apple prudes are still trying to figure out what to do with its filthy cover. The garagers' first (and loudest) album since 2010's Fast Songs Is All We Know, Couth is rude, lewd and anything but its title. Just like you'd expect.
9. Nosaprise, Book of the Dead Vol. 1 Nosa's first rap LP since 2010's Horseshoes and Hand Grenades splices Evil Dead 2 dialogue among tributes to several departed rappers (Tupac, Biggie, ODB, Gang Starr's Guru). Conceived as a way to cope with losing several people close to him, it's also a skeleton key to how one of Houston's most underrated MCs developed his unique style.
8. Second Lovers, New Mexico EP Sharpening Second Lovers' auspicious 2012 debut Wishers, Dreamers and Liars, New Mexico displays front man Nick Morales' rapid Americana progress and loses nothing by being only two songs long. Lindsey Buckingham would be proud of tuneful kiss-off "Alright"... and that's the B-side!
7. American Fangs, American Fangs Vampire mileage may vary, but American Fangs is the tightest and cleanest-sounding Houston rock album in a while. Twirling propulsive pop hooks, guitar-spray choruses and no small amount of B-boy bragging, it crunches and soars.
6. Trudy Lynn, Royal Oaks Blues Cafe Probably better known abroad than in her hometown, the Fifth Ward native does Houston proud with a set of high-spirited R&B that goes from the high-class joints to the honky-tonks in style. Whether forthright ("Confessin' the Blues"), seething ("Every Side of Lonesome") or ribald ("Whip It Into Jelly"), Miss Lynn is never half-assed. Best listen to what she says.
5. Bang Bangz, Red City Bang Bangz capture the dreamy electronica spirit of the dubiously named indie subgenre "chillwave," but leave out the exasperating affectations. What's left on debut LP Red City is bewitching nocturnal pop that beckons, soothes and seduces.
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4. Electric Attitude, Skintight & Solid Gold Electric Attitude works the same retro-R&B grooves as Houston's wildly popular A Fistful of Soul DJ nights, but with far too much hard-rock edge for that tragically hip crowd. Their loss; Skintight & Solid Gold is the septet's mission statement, cinematic and uncompromisingly funky.
3: The Dead Links, High As It Goes Coming totally out of left field via bygone alt-rockers like the Jesus & Mary Chain and Love and Rockets, the Dead Links' debut LP is industrial but not abrasive, progressive but very pop. This mature, complex album deserves a wider audience than a practically-new band of fortysomethings is likely to find right away, so tell a friend.
2. DJ Sun, One Hundred Take One Hundred along on your next Houston drive and see if you can cover as much of the city as he does in its 19 tracks. You probably can't. For best results pick a time without heavy traffic, but luckily its laid-back, densely layered grooves will also chill you out at rush hour.
1. Mike Stinson, Hell and Half of Georgia The diary of a wayward minstrel who already knows he'll be "Late For My Funeral," Hell and Half of Georgia beats back workaday drudgery and romantic frustration with caustic humor, pragmatic optimism and the comforts of home (or the road). It's also a deeply rewarding batch of 11 Grade-A cowpunk/Americana tunes I've hardly stopped listening to since June.
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