Friday Free For All: Colonial Blue, Major Lazer, La Dusseldorf, Fiddle Witch, etc.

The Friday Free For All relays albums, artists, videos and vibes the Houston Press Music staff has been grooving to over the past week.


Pay attention to this local trio that just showed up on my radar maybe two months ago. Colonial Blue’s music is rootsy enough that they are (rightly) being marketed to fans of Alabama Shakes and Kings of Leon, but debut album Dear Misery, (yes, comma included) doesn’t skimp on heavier alternative elements like the OK Computer guitars of opener “Break My Bones,” reaching ebb tide with the gentle, harmonica-driven “Undone.” Much credit is due to drummer Corey Chierighino and guitarist Jonathan Ward for consistently devising forthright but hard-to-pigeonhole instrumental tracks, but really, everything revolves around singer Stephanie Rice. Easy reference points (because I like both bands) would be the Tontons' Asli Omar and Heartless Bastards' Erika Wennerstrom, because Rice can do brooding as well as screaming, and does plenty of both here. Knowing that she’s a preacher’s daughter who came out to her family at age 18 — Baptist, no less — heightens the sense of intrigue, to say nothing of the melodrama inherent in that title, but what Dear Misery, does above all else is establish Rice as one of Houston’s most compelling young vocalists. The album is out today (they’re unsigned, so check their website for ordering info), and will surely be on hand at the band's 5 p.m. Cactus Music in-store tomorrow. CHRIS GRAY

Major Lazer is a gem to dance music, and their ability to combine moody bounce, Latin, and trap beats with exactly the right combination of guest artists is unsurpassed by anyone else not named Kanye West. And the visuals they provide to accompany their tracks are mini-motion pictures that deserves more than one or ten views. Check out "Night Riders" featuring Travis Scott, 2 Chainz, Pusha T and Mad Cobra. MARCO TORRES

In late 1975, well ­before he was late and lamented, the early art­-punk Klaus Dinger quit himself of Neu! to work on the even­ newer La Dusseldorf with the help of his brother Thomas Dinger, Hans Lampe, and a loose crew of friends. There’s a bit of schlager hiding out behind the beat and the synth treatments testify to his short­-time in early Kraftwerk, but for the most part this is a street-­take on the ambient bip-bip-bip-bip of his earlier work with Michael Rother. La Dusseldorf is blood­-stirring, forward­-looking music. It’s anarchic and good­timing, with a spirit rooted in Dada and Pop Art alike. No wonder that David Bowie was a big fan. Certainly, you don’t have to pay close attention to pick up the echoes of La Dusseldorf in P­I­L and Joy Division. TEX KERSCHEN

I'm admittedly late to the party on this one, mostly because I have two kids and am generally resistant to trying new things. That said, I've been on a major hip-hop kick lately, which means I finally got around to checking out J. Cole's 2014 Forest Hills Drive. Yes, it's awesome, and yes, I'm aware it came out nearly two years ago. "A Tale of 2 Citiez" is menacing as hell and "G.O.M.D." is lyricism at its finest. Plus, J. Cole ends the record with a 15-minute shout-out to a number of people, including Jonah Hill and Dale Earnhardt, Jr. two men Cole has admittedly never met. In typical J. Cole fashion, this track - and 2014 Forest Hills Drive as a whole - is the good kind of weird. CLINT HALE

Our friend Ceeplus Bad Knives, an unimpeachable authority on the shadowy netherworld of post-punk-derived sounds, wrote in earlier this week to let us know about this show at Walters tomorrow that should make a deliciously spooky Saturday night for those attuned to the various “-wave” spectrums – synthwave, chillwave, No Wave, etc. Top of the bill is San Antonio's Moze Pray, whose representative Soundcloud track, “Dream Dance,” unveils a latticework of oscillating beats and keyboards until a cello (or double bass) begins sawing back and forth like a pendulum. It's all very hypnotic if you can ignore the random screams that erupt out of nowhere. Also scurrying onto the stage will be Houston guitar-torturer Jon Read aka The Wiggins, whose new Greater Minds LP was recently lauded here as “car-crash American exceptionalism” (or something to that effect); Markos Grave, the sort of “semi-improvisational” duo of Ceeplus and Fantasy Ritual guitarist Damon Allen in the wake of that band's cancellation; Houston darkwavers Tearful Moon; and DJ Bad Bones, which sounds like a likely alias for Ceeplus himself, but is in fact former Balaclavas drummer Charlie Patranella. CHRIS GRAY

On the subject of underrated rappers, how awesome is Snow Tha Product?! Her lyrical assault on every track is matched only by her explosively energetic live show, both of which will leave you dazed and "woke", as she so eloquently calls it. Oh, and she spits in English, Spanish and Spanglish, which is simply fascinating. I'm just lucky enough to be fluent in all three, which comes in handy on her latest, "AyAyAy!" MARCO TORRES

The latest Houston act to go Hollywood (sort of) is none other than this string-metal trio with a classical twist and sinister mien. A while back the Demons joined the roster of Domo Music Group, the L.A.-based label also home to a number of Japanese artists, among them New Age flute master Kitaro, house DJ M-Swift and avant-jazz group Jabberloop. A full-length FW release is due next month, following up the self-titled 2014 LP that helped them win Best New Act at last year’s HPMAs, but last week a taste of the madness to come arrived in the form of single “Midnight Mayhem.” Above is just a taste, because the full song (including a rare guest vocal by Jesse Madera) goes on for six and a half minutes of friction-fueled delirium. A trip to the dark side hasn't been this much fun since The Empire Strikes Back. CHRIS GRAY

Here we have another amazing video of kids continuing the tradition of Conjunto and Norteño music, with "El Corrido de Chihuahua" by Los Luzeros de Rioverde. It really warms my heart to see and hear something like this. Viva Mexico! MARCO TORRES

Mail score of the week: A new 7-inch vinyl from grizzled H-Town troubadour Richard Dobson. Dobson lives in Switzerland, but back in the day he ran with Townes, Guy Clark, Rodney Crowell, Steve Earle and the other young songwriter Turks who followed Mickey Newbury to Nashville and immediately made creative inroads into the stodgy, stale Nashville system. The record consists of two snorty rockers, "The Hard Way" and "Swamp Rat." Fans of Calvin Russell's grit-n-roll should get all over this nasty little roadhouse gem. The real kicker here is that, while it sounds like it was recorded yesterday, the recording was actually made in the late 1970s. Dobson sent along a short but charming letter of explanation:

About 1978 I stayed a few days [with] my friend Mayo Thompson (Red Krayola) who was living in Banbury, England. I played him some tracks from a record I was working on and he said it sounded like my drummer was asleep. When I came back I arranged this session and told the guys to play as hard as they could. I think this is the only single I ever put out. While I was stung by Mayo's remark, I saw he had a point. I came away with an idea of combining country with punk energy. When I got back to Nashville a couple years later, I saw Jason and the Scorchers. Just a little history. I'm still working with Andre Mathews, who plays guitar on this.

So, the earliest cowpunk record? It's certainly a contender. WILLIAM MICHAEL SMITH
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