Bun B, Trill O.G.: The Epilogue At this point, Bun B's influence stretches far beyond music, but that doesn't mean he can't still churn out a great album. Trill O.G. The Epilogue, the finale in his Trill album series, has everything we've come to both expect and love from a Bun album.
It begins with the Dirty South-dripping "The Best is Back," chock-full of horns and pipe organs, and includes an homage to DJ Screw before the album's end. In between, Bun supplements his rhymes with the likes of Big K.R.I.T., 2 Chainz, Raekwon, Redman and of course a few samples from the late, great Pimp C. MATTHEW KEEVER
Children of Pop, Fiesta/Drift Something about the "chillwave" movement has a polarizing effect, but Children of Pop seem to have that special something that could sway even the most hesitant listener. Perhaps it's the fact that Fiesta/Drift is equal parts psych-rock and pop, mixed into that ethereal, experimental "chill" sound that defines bands like Animal Collective. Whatever it is, Children of Pop have managed to release something that stands apart from what most Houston acts are doing.
But aside from its unique point of view, Fiesta/Drift embodies just what Houston acts are capable of -- high-quality, well-paced records that will captivate an audience's attention with ease. Fiesta/Drift is my favorite local release this year, but it's also one of my favorite albums of 2013. Give it a spin; you'll see why. ALYSSA DUPREE
Fat Tony, Smart Ass Black Boy In 2013, Fat Tony continued his streak of putting out some of Houston's most interesting (and challenging) rap music with Smart Ass Black Boy, another twisting collaboration with partner/ producer Tom Cruz. The easygoing, responsibility-free anthems "BKNY" and "Hood Party" are fun and breezy enough to get listeners hooked, but the rest of the record is a tad more elusive.
The pleasures of the spare and spacey "I Shine," for example, are best revealed by taking a drive and sparking up something hand-rolled as the rapper relates his everyday concerns about politics, identity and parenting. Street bangers these are not -- and thank God. This city's got enough of those. NATHAN SMITH
Football, Etc., Audible Audible isn't a loud record, but not all emotion has to be loud and ugly. In fact, these songs seem to have more power by being understated. Football, Etc. never come off like they're trying to impress anyone: the songs rarely crack the 3:30 mark, the guitar work is functionally beautiful instead of hollow flash, and the vocals are straightforward rather than histrionic.
They're not a band that necessarily commands your attention, but when pay attention you realize, "hey, this is pretty amazing. CORY GARCIA
Nick Greer & the G's, s/t has got to be the funkiest man in town. For the past six months, since I first heard his group's debut eponymous album, Nick Greer & the Gs has been in regular rotation on my Spotify account.
Hell-bent on forging their way to the top of the Houston music scene, their self-described "powerhouse of funk, blues, soul and hip-hop" is a pleasure to the ears. It will make you want to dance, and the catchy lyrics will have you singing along after just a few listens. MATTHEW KEEVER
Steve Krase, Some Day From the first stomp-and-shake of Bobby Charles' "Why People LIke That," Steve Krase and a handful of local stalwarts let it all hang out on this blistering album. Krase has been an integral part of the blues scene since his days in Jerry Lightfoot's band, but Some Day takes his game to a new level.
Credit is due a huge dose of muscle from some top players like guitarist James Henry and bass master "Spare Time" Murray, plus Krase's strong song selections including a handful of new tunes by David Krase. While Krase's blues is harmonica-driven, there's plenty of room here for honking sax by Eric Demmer and hot guitar licks aplenty. Put this one on the shelf with your other party albums. WILLIAM MICHAEL SMITH
Legion, State of Decay This debut album by the Sugar Land thrashers positively drips with youthful enthusiasm for the hyperactive brand of speed-metal once thought to be dead and buried along with James Hetfield's handlebar mustache. The record's machine-gun drum licks, wailing guitar solos and syncopated, harmonized riffing are simply a delight for fans of old-school headbanging.
Meanwhile, singer Drew Habryl's ferocious, Mustaine-ian shrieking prove that you needn't growl like Cookie Monster to whip up a circle-pit. Houston is enjoying what seems like a slew of speed-worshipping younger bands these days, but State of Decay puts Legion at the top of that jagged mountain of rubble. NATHAN SMITH
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Linus Pauling Quartet, Find What You Love and Let it Kill You You can count on Ramon Medina and his Linus Pauling Quartet to keep a steady stream of short releases coming, and this one named after a misattributed Charles Bukowski quote is probably my favorite of all their work, saying what it needs to in just three short songs. The passion Medina put into the words and music, his love letter to one special person, comes through wonderfully.
Closing track "La Jetee" is one of the most pleasantly sad songs Houston has ever produced, so full of attachment and longing and letting go. It's like some sort of audio version of an existential French film masterpiece, which is exactly where the title comes from. As far as small bits of magic go, Find What You Love... is hard to beat in 2013. JEF WITH ONE F
Pasadena Napalm Division, s/t It's been 18 years since the last time D.R.I. front man Kurt Brecht's bellowing pipes were last heard on record, and nearly as long since we last heard new music from Houston metal legends deadhorse. Highly convenient, then, that the galloping guitars and drums of the 'horse joined forces with the ear-piercing voice of crossover thrash this year to produce Pasadena Napalm Division, a whipping throwback album of the very best kind.
Fast 'n' furious tracks like the excellent "100 Beers With a Zombie" sound exactly like what fans of both groups hoped they would: outrageously aggressive, with lyrical tongue planted firmly in cheek. Did it forever alter the heavy-metal landscape? Hell, no. Can you skate hard to it? Hell, yes! NATHAN SMITH
The Suffers, "Slow It Down" b/w "Step Aside" My favorite local release of the year is a no-brainer. Not only are the Suffers my favorite band in the whole wide world, I attended high school and played in the marching band with two of the members and they were first band I introduced to the love of my life, who now makes it her mission to catch the Suffers in action at every possible opportunity. They're also the sweetest bunch of beer drinkers a guy could ever count on as homies.
This summer, the Suffers released their much-anticipated first single, this vinyl 7-inch loaded with choice ingredients of seductive vocals, brilliant horns and groovy rhythms, a sonic gumbo of soul, reggae and rocksteady that wins you over from the first note. MARCO TORRES
Brett Taylor (sIngs), Document of Hate Once Brett Taylor's solo project, then a band, and now essentially a solo project again, sIngs has gone through a variety of sounds and styles over the years, some more accessible than others. On free EP Document of Hate, he lands somewhere between Angelo Badalamenti and Jandek.
This probably isn't where the unacquainted should start delving into Taylor's music, but it is one of the most deeply layered releases of 2013. Incorporating gothic synths into sIngs' repertoire, Taylor has expanded into even more haunting and moving moodiness. Mostly he's moved away from the more standard song structures of earlier releases like Hells, taking a bold step into some of his best writing among challenging noises and broken chords. COREY DEITERMAN
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