Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Houston Press Music Awards: My Take (the right one)

To say I don't like bitching about things would be a lie. I'm a music critic. I love a good bitch session but at the same time, I love my city. I don't like to cut down anyone who represents Houston to the outside world but Houston Press has made some serious booboos in their 2011 music awards. But to give them (and voters?) credit for their successes, let's start with what they got right.
  • Local Musician of the Year: Robert Ellis
  • Best Jazz: Free Radicals
  • Best Miscellaneous Instrument: Geoffrey Muller
  • Best Blues: Little Joe Washington
  • Best Zydeco: Zydeco Dots
Ok those make sense. But here's where they (or we) fucked up a bit:
  • First of all, the best music store was Guitar Center. Their headquarters are in CA and they are all insufferable douchebag fuckheads. Of course, there are some douchebags who work at local music places like Rockin Robins for example (not talking about the majority of employees, just one or two specifically) but seriously, are you going to sell out your city like that? You couldn't find one local business to fill the bill? That's laziness.

  • Secondly, touching on a similar theme, the best music venue was House of Blues. This is a true what-the-fuck moment. House of Blues is over-priced, a national chain, and has the worst parking ever. Is this really what people want to represent the city of Houston? A place that serves 10 dollar jack and cokes?

I didn't get to vote so I won't bitch too much more but I just hope that these last two things don't happen again. Because they're not really Houstonian in origin, they probably shouldn't have even been on the ballot.

Awarding either of those two is like saying that Pizza Hut serves Houston's best pizza: yes, you could theoretically reach a consensus like that with enough votes but why was it an option in the first place? Houston has way more to offer than Guitar Center and House of Blues, both of which are related to authentic music as much as hugging is related to HIV.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

David Lynch - Crazy Clown Time

"These are my friends" rings of the same sad list-making in "Is there anyone home?". Behind the dusty hissing of brushed drumbeats and chorus-bathed guitar Lynch lists the things that comfort him and his friends much in the same way Waters croons that he's got a "spoon on a chain".

"Speed Roadster" tells the story of a maudlin stalker in Lynch's quavering voice. While it's disturbing, Lynch's in-song personality is a lonely one and deserves some pity. He gets you to sympathize a little each verse but shatters it each and every time he repeats, "I guess you could say, I'm stalking you."

The title track carries the same grotesque weight as the rest of the album, maybe even much more. The scene Lynch describes in the lyrics doesn't even seem to be fully possible. There are so many missing pieces to the situation that you never really understand what Crazy Clown Time is. It's more like a drug-fueled nightmare or a hallucination during a heat stroke. This quality is only enhanced by the buzzing insect-like drone of the crescendoing lap steel.

It doesn't have a wide appeal but for listeners who appreciate outsider music like Daniel Johnston or Jandek, it's a nice little treat.

Despite the creepy tone of the album, the music could easily serve as a palliative for the person not having the "Good Day" that Lynch begs for in the album's most talked about single. It's cold comfort but comfort nonetheless.

Grade: B-

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Black Sabbath reunion almost inevitable

It's been a shit past few years for reunions. We watched Led Zeppelin fail to reunite. We watched Pink Floyd fail to reunite and then Richard Wright died making it impossible. Same thing for Bauhaus and Pavement. This coming Friday though, Black Sabbath finally break the cycle.

Courtesy of Ultimate Classic Rock blog, there will be a press conference at 11:11 on 11/11/11 (this Friday) with all members of the original Black Sabbath in attendance. Naysayers will claim that I can't call it so soon but seriously, why the hell else would they all come together for a press conference? To announce that they won't reunite? That makes no sense!

Stay tuned.

Proof that I am a psycho-fan

Oh Lord, am I fucking exhausted. Why you ask? Because I stayed up ALL night waiting for the Radiohead pre-sale to start.

I refreshed my browser dozens of times and on top of that at least once every hour on the hour.

Instead of sleeping took a series of oft interrupted micro-naps.

Ultimately though, I prevailed.

At around 6:16 AM, the "buy ticket" button magically appeared before my bleary, bloodshot, sleep-deprived eyeballs and for a moment, I didn't know what to do. GA or Reserved Seating. Type credit card number. Email address. Pesky card number on back that's like three digits long. Get confirmation. Save confirmation page. Fall back asleep.

For everyone who didn't attend the electronic vigil I did, tickets will go on sale for Radiohead's Houston date at 10 a.m. Saturday on Live Nation.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

People like it when you fail - Art Institute

It came out in September but it's never too late to review a good album, especially a release from a real, live, Houston post-punk band.

There's normally two directions modern post-punk bands will take and those are: goth and classic, Wire style post-punk. The Art Institute has opted for the second and on "People like it when you fail", they do it in a no nonsense, stripped down fashion.
The first track, "Addicted to the drug of nostalgia" certainly sets the tone for the remaining tracks with the militant, paranoid, Gang of Four-like lyrics, "all we are is in the ether, never trust the memory of others, addicted to the drug of nostalgia".

Like aforementioned luminaries, AI shows a willingness to explore the weighty themes of dependence and dystopian landscapes without sounding like a bunch whiny teenagers. The complaints levied are wry and tactful. "Your vote is but a token, and I'll use it when I need it" carries more weight than the score different ways other punk influenced bands have broached the same issue.

On tracks like "Lord Jim" and "Disharmonics" the band channels classic American post-punk bands like Mission of Burma by using mostly classic punk instrumentation of bass, single guitar, and drums. There's not the kind of obscurantist, navel-gazing, some revivalists employ but instead it's very palpable and fleshed out.

This isn't a post-punk pastiche or a tribute to post-punk, this is one of those rare acts that sounds like and feels like a bonafide continuation of the corpus of post-punk music.

Grade: A