Houston Music

Sounds of the City: Nick Greer Just Does It 'Live at the Corkscrew'

The knowledge I have of Nick Greer extends back arguably four or five years, when he was part of a rather impressive Wire Road Studios collective with The Niceguys and a couple of other artists. Greer was a red-headed bandleader with a sturdy hand on the piano and a more than appeasing collection of bow ties, suspenders and thoughts about music. In other words, Nick Greer was one of a kind. First, he and his band the G's released “Nebula Snap” as a single, and then “Money” came around as a hard-hitting stab at a “rock” record. Greer’s nasally voice combed through almost every register you could imagine. Last year the G's released Heart of Fire, a sweet album that combined piano bar-blues with plenty of rock sensibilities. Now Greer has taken his flair for the dramatic (and his love of the piano) and released something that may be a rarity in current music: a live album.

A bar hop since his teens, Greer has honed his craft in arenas such as Prohibition or The Corkscrew, where the new LP was recorded. Back in 2013, he told me about his lifelong resiliency.

“I grew up in a work-ethic environment," Greer said. "So even if I had asthma, I still had to mow the lawn. I wasn’t around a weak mother. I grew up in a hospital, the sickest kid imaginable, cardiac arrest three times before I was a teen. My mom took care of me. The rest of my family, not counting my mom and sister...are drug addicts. My addiction is my piano.”

As addicted as he is, once you talk to him, Greer's voice becomes a calling. Most great rockers have amazing voices — scratched and pained vessels that carry emotions like ships through muddled waters. Live at the Corkscrew combines both of Nick Greer & the G's last two albums, their self-titled 2013 effort and Heart of Fire. On “Trouble,” he sings like someone being chased by something and looking for salvation. It’s a sullen, dark fucking period that’s tucked in among rousing, band-made revelry, especially the kind of playful riffs that ride out on “Black Cadillac.”

Greer is 28 now. MANTIS, his last band before he put his name on top of the marquee, is long gone. BoJones, the group he had when he originally befriended Omar Afra, split in 2007. It’s just him playing these sad yet inviting bar songs for a welcoming audience now.

And he’s pretty amazing at it.

Peyton, Roller Coaster
In August, The Milky Wayv, an 11-person collective that could only be described as the children of N.E.R.D and The Internet, released the best-titled mixtape in Houston, The Best Mixtape You’ve Ever Heard. It focused plenty on love, and Peyton, the 18-year-old flower child with a large Afro and cotton-candy-like sweetness to her, toyed with the idea of a bomb-ass first date on “Verbs." The irony is that “verbs” — words and ideas of action — are what pushed Peyton to be the first of the Milky Wayv collective to release the project post-TBMYEH, Roller Coaster.

It’s a skimpy little EP, an appetizer that weaves through all the better parts of a relationship. There are no stretches of wondering if someone who has scorned you will right those wrongs. There are no ballads like Mary J. Blige's circa My Life, which immediately sink you into a chair making you want to deal with an ex. Instead, leading off "Aerial" are the familiar chords of Minnie Riperton’s “Inside My Love." When you’re a sucker for certain samples, you start diving deeper into the sounds of whoever is riding said samples. So, if you’re getting an EP solely about the butterflies of the first few months of being in love, you know exactly how to temper your expectations.  

Vocally, Peyton at times could be compared to Syd The Kid of The Internet. Maybe it’s the low, conversational tone they both deliver, but it’s a fact. The way both of them sing about love is akin to twirling your hair, confused about what to say to the pretty girl or guy next to you. The Internet connection only is strengthened by the fact that band member Steve Lacy shows up for “Tell Me,” and if you combine that with the fact Bobby Earth produced it — well, shit, you may as well call that a lost track from Ego Death. It's another full record of live, lush sounds from Bobby Earth with a few contributions from Chase of Nazareth and Brandon Willis.

The short of Roller Coaster? It’s a light, buttery EP that’s a precursor to what’s to come next from The Milky Wayv collective, and they don’t plan on slowing down anytime soon.  

Leo Solomon, “Daddy Issues”
The R&B singers in the city tend to pop up every now and then. Leo Solomon, for example, is one of those acts who somehow figure into that “damn, he has a nice-ass voice but I don’t hear enough of him" one-sided conversation. On "Daddy Issues," he happens to try being a voice of reason, which is a track about a topic that comes up often in external discussions of relationships, especially involving women who want men who remind them of the security that their father brought. Or, in most cases, seeking approval and dedication from their current boyfriends/beaus in a way that their fathers didn’t provide. The good thing? Solomon steers far clear of respectability issues and tackles everything from a sharp perspective.

Lita Styles, “Petty”
Let’s walk backwards for a second. Lita Styles played the whispery siren on much of her From a Flower Pot EP. Now let’s walk into right now and her “Petty” video — part trip, part fed-up, spiteful seduction. Director M4RZ splits the video into part dance number, part Fallout-style cartoon as Styles crashes her man’s area, raises eyes with burning desire and even allows Bobby Earth to get in front of the camera to rap a little. Still, the main focus? Lita, who could probably cut your heart out and sip some tea while reading your goddamn eulogy at the same time.

Love Dominique, “Rock Steady”
When she premiered “Rock Steady," the first single from her upcoming Lost In It EP, last month, Love Dominique remarked about the noticeable difference in her creativity, especially in regards to crafting two EPs for the new year. “Part One (Lost In It) is about self-reflection,” she told Day & A Dream. “It’s a look at how you can fall for the wrong person because of great sex (mainly), or because of loneliness or just having an emotional attachment. Part Two is…a response to [Lost In It]. It’s a lot more angry and aggressive.”

“Rock Steady” is the most sexually charged song in Love Dominique's catalogue, full of coos, instructions and pent-up fantasies of dominance and submission. It’s sultry and intoxicating, especially from a woman who’s starting to shed more of her own insecurities as time progresses.

Susan Carol, “Third Coast”
Five months ago, Susan Carol released “Third Coast” on her SoundCloud page. Five months later, I heard it live for the first time at Varrie V and Phill Wade’s VAO Unplugged show and was immediately blown away. Much like how Houston shared The Outfit, TX with Dallas for a bit of time, we happen to share Susan Carol with Funky Town, a.k.a. Fort Worth. Her voice echoes away from the microphone here, but my God, does she absolutely crush this slowed-down blend of UGK and Z-Ro. You can’t escape it once you hear it, and you’ll want to play it over and over again.
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Brandon Caldwell has been writing about music and news for the Houston Press since 2011. His work has also appeared in Complex, Noisey, the Village Voice & more.
Contact: Brandon Caldwell