HPMA Showcase: Rocks Off's Top 7 Discoveries

Rocks Off also asked our folks covering the HPMA showcase to tell us their favorite new artist they saw Sunday - not necessary new, just new to them.

HPMA Showcase: The 12 Best Artists of 2012

SLIDESHOW: HPMA Showcase -- The Bands

SLIDESHOW: HPMA Showcase -- The Crowds

Alkari: How have I never seen these guys play before? They gave me a bit of a Bob Mould/Pixies vibe - angsty, swirly rock stuff. Their drummer was a hardass and their lyrics were complex and thoughtful. Plus, they seemed to be having a great time playing with each other. The back room at Reserve 101 was a good spot. Intimate and with decent sound. BRITTANIE SHEY

Caretta Bell: In her royal blue gown, Bell looked like a gospel singer. But flanked by a pair of voices whom it would hardly be fair to call "backup singers," she reached deep to deliver one of the best examples of the currently popular neo-soul I've seen in this city in a while.

Bell has a silky, unforgettable voice and a likable, magnetic stage presence while her band accompanies her with as much subtlety and finesse as any band we saw all day. We'll definitely be tracking her down at her regular monthly gig at Fox Hollow in Third Ward. WILLIAM MICHAEL SMITH

D.R.U.M.: The best new discovery for me was, hands down, D.R.U.M. To me, they were like reggae for people who don't normally listen to reggae. I liked how the singer basically gave the audience a mini-lesson on Bob Marley. I thought it was a great way to connect with the audience because, while not everyone listens to reggae, I think we can all agree that Marley is a music legend.

A great moment occurred when the singer encouraged people to start dancing. Though most were probably eating from the nearby food trucks, some did. CHRISTINA LYNN

Female Demand: Armed with only a drum kit, a bass guitar and a helluva lot of pedals, Female Demand shook Dirt Bar as though it were something personal, as onlookers either smiled and bobbed their heads or nervously exchanged glances, silently asking one another, "What the hell is this?"

Make no mistake; I was in the former category. And although I had never heard of them before, after a quick chat with Cory Sinclair and Justice Tirapelli-Jamail of The Manichean, I now know where I can purchase their music and keep tabs on upcoming performances. MATTHEW KEEVER

H.I.S.D.: "Houston Independent Spit District. Slang District. Soul District. Style District," announced EQuality, Savvi and Scottie Spitten, members of local rap threesome, H.IS.D., to the gatherers at House of Blues' Bronze Peacock Room.

Nominated for Best Hip-Hop Group and Best Video, H.I.S.D. talks endlessly about getting "spaced up" in their music; that is, achieving a higher level of consciousness. This Rocks Offer was at first nostalgically attracted to their performance after spending an elementary-school stint in the school district that shares the same initials, but after tonight, it's clear which district I'll be attending. School is now in session. ALTAMESE OSBOURNE

The Trimms: Appealing to both young and older generation music fans, The Trimms are a kick, no better way to put it. They have that certain je ne sais quoi, a rock and sock and roll spirit worth acknowledging. They are, you know, the kind of band that come with searing guitar licks and all of that good stuff drenched in copious amounts of ice-cold Bud Light (which fits, being a sponsor).

Though playing many (well-selected) covers as a traditional-looking rock outfit, this motley trio played bombastic songs that stood out in their performance spirit. Each band member had a great amount of energy onstage, which translated into standout talent, and vice versa. ALEXA CRENSHAW

The Trimms: I really liked these newcomers. The power trio was a little White Stripes-heavy, but they had energy for days and had an enthusiastic crowd up front and wailing during their Lucky's Pub set. They were also handing out free discs featuring a live set from a few shows back, so that should be getting some rotation around these parts.

It's refreshing to see band members interacting with one another, and not setting themselves into little islands onstage. The Trimms were really good at invading each other's space. CRAIG HLAVATY

Leah White & the Magic Mirrors: I saw a lot of great loud, heavy music on Sunday yet of all of the things I decided to take a chance on Leah White & the Magic Mirrors bring the biggest grin to my face.

Knowing nothing about them gave rise to tons of questions (Are these novelty songs? Is this a crazy/genius gimmick?) but the important part is this: Whether she's singing about a local library, being an astronaut or art cars, the songs are really good. I'm just glad there's room at the HPMAs for facemelting (hi Floorbound) and kids' songs. CORY GARCIA

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