Monday, March 31, 2008

New - Live Music Reviews on our Music Blog: This Week The Dirtbombs.

posted by Ramon Medina - LP4 @ 5:24 AM

Since leaving my duties as a blogger on Non-Alignment Pact I am devoting more time to the Free Press Houston's coverage of live music. So, today I am establishing a little review column in our Music blog - Music with Jameson & Lone Star - where I will cover live shows at least once a week. The shock and awe that was The Dirtbombs set on Friday kicks the whole endeavor off. Read on:

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Thursday, March 27, 2008

Bullshit or No esta Bullshit: Houston 'Next Great World City' ?

posted by Free Press Houston @ 8:29 PM


The American seems to think that Houston is a 'booming opportunity city.' I am assuming they are using a relative as opposed to absolute scale. Most of my cohorts are desperately seeking better gigs as FPH can barely cover their Ramen and Lentil diet. All the roaches in my house have died of starvation and I can't even afford to spend the night. Oh well- you decide.

The Local Music Crumudgeon's preview - March 27 2008

posted by Ramon Medina - LP4 @ 12:01 AM

RECAP
Damn people, I was still recovering from SXSW so I was sitting on my ass last week. But this week the ass comes off the sofa! Just dig this week's spotlight!

THIS WEEK'S SPOTLIGHT IS ON

Rudyard's Friday and Saturday!

FRIDAY MARCH 28
The Dirtbombs / Kelley Stoltz / Dead Roses
@ Rudyard's
Ultraglide in Black is a classic of garage fuzzed out energy and pretty much seals The Dirtbombs as a must see band. While there's a new album that I haven't heard yet, I'd be pretty stunned if the album blows and, even if it were to suck, it should be a great live experience. The Dude in the middle slot, San Fransisco's Kelley Stolz, has a catalog that is somewhat eclectic but in a general sense favors a more poppy approach and should be also worth catching. Local kicking it old school punk bad asses Dead Roses, who are always solid, will be ripping up an opening set with Houston Ex-pat drum master Danny Mee filling in on the skins. Be there early. No, wait don't! I want to get myself a good parking spot.


SATURDAY MARCH 29
The Fleshtones/The Ugly Beats/Born Liars
@ Rudyard's
Hey, remember when Peter Zaremba used to host The Cutting Edge? Of course not, you're not you're not a million years old like me but his band, The Fleshtones, have been making classic garage rock for over 30 years with little hint of losing their spark, slowing down, or even knowing how to stop. They alone would be brilliant enough but the lovely pairing of them with Austin 60's purists The Ugly Beats and local garage gods the Born Liars will make for a great night for those of us who like our rock genres vintage and our shows exploding with energy and sweat. Don't completely burn yourself out on Friday because this will be a perfect second course to your weekend.

ALSO THIS WEEK:

THURSDAY MARCH 27

The Future of the Ghost/Program @ Boondocks
Salt Lake City's FOTG plays that poppy punk thing. It's very cute fun stuff. Local cats Program approach their pop from a more textured keyboard indie pop angle but also can make for a nice show worth catching.

Fu Manchu/Burning Brides/Max Cady @ The Meridian
Charlie Naked of Defenestration Unit will kick my ass if I don't mention Fu Manchu's show. That dude loves Fu Manchu.

The Umbrella Man @ The Big Top
Jazzy Bluesey Rootsy Country well, they have an upright bass a violin and an accordion... you do the math. A friend of mine told me they put on a great show.


FRIDAY MARCH 28
File under this just in from Hand Up Houston
"Warehouse Party
American Sharks /Limb / Young Mammals (with Mlee Suprean) (cover Pixies songs) / Celebrity DJ Jacob Mutha ####in' Calle / DJ Psychedelic Sex Panther
and more.....
DIRECTIONS:
2220 Commerce (right across the street from Bootleg)

Turn right on Commerce
Go over railroad tracks
BAM! ON YOUR RIGHT!

ERIN'S BIRTHDAY WAREHOUSE PARTY! BRING HER GIFTS! BUY HER BEERS! BUY HER CONDOMS! 10PM-??? FREE FREE FREE FREE FREE FREE FREE PLEASE BUY ME ONE CAN OF SPARKS. THIS IS A 90's THEME PARTY! YOU KNOW THE DRILL! DRESS 90's IF YOU GUYS CONTRIBUTE THIS I WILL GET AWESOME! PLEASE REPOST AND SPREAD THE WORD. INVITE YOUR FRIENDS. "

SATURDAY, MARCH 29

Anal Blast/Uncleansed/Engaged in Mutilating/Cerebral Rot/Diminished/Infernal Butchery
@ Walter's on Washington

Anal Blast are likely one of the premier metal feminist bands with such socially conscious songs as "High On Cunt Blood", Uncleansed are a Houston Christian Metal Band...and...what? You're not buying any of this? OK, yeah, it's knuckle scraping metal. Ya got me.

Dengue Fever
@ The Orange Show
I had a bit of trouble describing LA's Dengue Fever but they say it's "A Cambodian Pop Rock Psychedelic dance party!" OK sounds good to me.


(This Just In)
Poor Dumb Bastards / The Hickoids / Scorpio Rising
@ NOTSUOH
You know the score Byron will likely get naked or damn close and all insanity will ensue. And the Hickoids are Texas Cow Punk royalty.

Bret Michaels
@ The Meridian
NO! I will hate you forever if you go see this!


SUNDAY MARCH 30
Something Fierce/Born Liars
@ Dean's Credit Clothing
TwoOne of Houston's premier rock bands. Something Fierce covers the pop punk thing like nobody else and Born Liars play garage like motherfuckers. I know it's Sunday and you will be killed by Rudyards on Friday and Saturday but it should prove to be a sweet show and a great bookend to the weekend!

MONDAY MARCH 31
Pink Razors/Erin Tobey/Teenage Kicks/The Holly Hall
@ The Mink

Pink Razors rip some sweet blazing high energy indie pop with guitars that sound like Superchunk on speed. Nice stuff. Teenage Kicks ride that line where garage and pop meet. The Holly Hall is the local supergroup that includes recently featured singer songwriter Elaine Greer. No offense to the KTRU folks who do a great job but the tracks on the Holly Hall's myspace doesn't compare to how good they band sounds live.

Nick Jaina/The Wild Moccasins
@ Notsuoh
The Whim of the Ruling Class is a lovely example of Nick Jania's simple and lovely pop song styling. It should be nice. The Wild Moccasins make lovely pop and features members who also play in the Holly Hall....wait a second! Aren't the Holly Hall also playing at the Mink? OK that should prove to be interesting.

Basses Loaded
@ Boondocks
Thank goodness Basses Loaded didn't just stop at just the gimmick of having all basses but instead went ahead and wrote great songs and combined that with a great live show. Always recommended.

TUESDAY APRIL 1
Saul Williams/Dragons of Zynth
@ Warehouse Live
Saul Williams' and Dragons of Zynth are a good pairing as both suffer from a similar flood of ideas and a nervous energy. It may not always work but it's at least interesting.

Eisley/The Myriad/The Envy Corps/Vedera
@ The Meridian
OK so sue me. So I think The Winter Song from three years ago is a brilliant little nugget of pop with gorgeous harmonies. Sorry, I also have to admit that I kinda like that damn New Soul song you hear on the Apple Air commercial. I suck, I know.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

M83 & Mono/World's End Girlfriend's albums

posted by Free Press Houston @ 3:56 PM

By Tyler Barber

"Beef is when you need to 'gats' to go to sleep." Or so Biggie Smalls would have us believe. For the past three months I've been buying only rap. I don't know what it is -- maybe the election, our declining economy, only having a half season of Lost -- butsomething's made me wanna put a cap in someone's ass.

That tide is changing though as yesterday I purchased two shoe-gazy/post-rock albums: M83 - Digital Shades Vol. 1, and a collaborative effort by Mono & World's End Girlfriend - Palmless Prayer / Mass Murder Refrain. Both albums are ones that could soundtrack a slow-mo' shuttle lift-off, and both are for the most part, without vocals or drums. For Mono, this is nothing new, but M83 usually has a mix of sampled and recorded vocals. But my favorite track by M83, Coloring the Void, does have vocals going into falsetto ranges not yet heard by the solo artist.



M83 | Digital Shades Vol. 1 This album is almost completely devoid of drums. Which seems like an odd choice for M83 who's become known for his huge drum loops that crash, and splinter each layer of synthesized audio so epic, and so distorted you can win Olympic games with it's force. Not so here, and somehow, M83 manages. Each song creeps in before you realize the melody. It's almost unnoticeable how the layers are added and subtracted. And that's what you really listen to music like this for. You want the sounds to poor over you like waves.



Mono/World's End Girlfriend | Palmless Prayer / Mass Murder Refrain What Mono manages live is hard to capture on record. Similar bands like Mogwai, or Sigur Ros benefit from having more players in the band, resulting in deeper layering, and smoother transitions. And in a way, that too is what's great about Mono: They're the shoe-gaze garage band. My main problem with the album though is it's overwhelming pessimism. You really can hang yourself to this album. And with me that's not such a bad thing, I like bitter-sweet music. But this one's without the sweet. On the plus side, much of the piano/violin work brought on by World's End Girlfriend adds a human touch to the otherwise corpse-soundscape. Plus, many songs sound like they could be played in some emotional scene in Lost. For me, that's a big plus.

Overall, I'm digging the M83 album much more than the Mono/World's End affair, but both are good albums on my accord. However, looking over their Amazon rankings, Digital Shades is M83's worst ranked album, andMono's /World's End's didn't receive high marks either. Chuck it up to taste. I always like the one-off albums better anyway. My favorite Red HotChillie Peppers album: By the Way, Smashing Pumpkins: Adore, Nine Inch Nails: The Fragile. So the softer albums I prefer.

M83 has a new album coming April 14th, Saturdays=Youth
Mono have recently stopped touring and I'd imagine they're working on their next album.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Ghost of a Facade

posted by _ @ 4:29 PM



It's that time again for another show at the old Jefferson Davis Hospital (Elder St. Artist Lofts). This time it will feature new works I've been sitting on for the past couple months and others that are still in the process of being completed. I'm hosting this event as part of the 3rd Annual Inner Art Corridor Open Studio Tour and hope to see you there!

Please visit InnerArtCorridor.com for more information.

Turning Point: Fall of Liberty review

posted by Free Press Houston @ 12:51 PM

By Tyler Barber



Turning Point: Fall of Liberty is a decent FPS. Take that statement, travel back in time to 1995, and it may hold true. But to today's standard, its concept and execution are simply the worst I've ever seen. The atrocities start with the most obvious, the graphics. Many now-gen games get the "Xbox-visuals" slap, but TP looks worse than bad shooters of the first Xbox era. TP is better suited for its acronym's homonym: toilet paper. But, I imagine the disc isn't very absorbent, which is to also say, it fails in every possible way imaginable.



TP also has the worst case of periscope-fire I've ever seen: enemies face and point their guns away from you, but their bullets magically turn 90 degrees, and fly right toward you. The cheapness doesn't end there. Turning Point struggles with making the game artificially difficult by hiding enemies in complete darkness, having shot-gun-toting enemies slam doors open just as you approach, or the worst, forcing you to climb down a ladder (because a ten-foot drop will kill you) while a barricade of Nazis fire at your back.

Love Jerry Bruckheimer's Independence Day? Then you'll love TP too, because it lets you blow-up the White House. Cool right? Wrong! Not only is the game atrocious -- PS2 level graphics, paper-airplane grenade physics, laughable animation -- but TP's concept assumes that a) the United States has no military, b) a random construction worker can save the country, and c) a Nazi invasion of the US is actually a get-out-of-jail-free card for the overly-abused WWII setting. Even worse is the thought that this title will have a sixty-dollar price tag. Spark, you're the real axis of evil. Simply the worst idea (and excuse) of a FPS. Ever.

Final Grade: F

Sunday, March 23, 2008

DJ Hipp-E added to already incredi-crunk lineup at Westheimer Block Party

posted by Free Press Houston @ 8:17 AM


World-reknowned Denver DJ Hipp-E has been added to the bill at the Westheimer Block Party. He performs upstairs at La Strada.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

They're back- Walking With Dinosaurs

posted by Free Press Houston @ 1:09 PM



April 2-6, 2008 at the Toyota Center ('cause these big boys wouldn't fit in the museum)
Dinosaurs return to the earth in a live theatrical arena show, WALKING WITH DINOSAURS – The Live Experience, based on the award-winning BBC Television Series. In WALKING WITH DINOSAURS, fifteen roaring, snarling “live” dinosaurs mesmerize the audience – and are as awe-inspiring as when they first walked on earth.
The show depicts the dinosaurs’ evolution, complete with the climatic and tectonic changes that took place, which led to the demise of many species. With almost cinematic realism, WALKING WITH DINOSAURS has scenes of the interactions between dinosaurs, and the audience, overwhelmed by the enormous beasts, sees how carnivorous dinosaurs evolved to walk on two legs, and how the herbivores fended off their more agile predators. If you have kids and they find out they missed this show, you'll never hear the end of it. If you don't have kids, we have some we can loan to you but you can be sure this will be a a thrill for all ages.
The Live Experience will perform 8 performances at Toyota Center in Houston, Texas. Tickets are now on sale by phone at 1-866-4-HOUTIX, on-line at www.toyotacentertix.com

Someone Call The Cops!

posted by Ramon Medina - LP4 @ 11:22 AM

Jesus is getting whipped by some Roman dudes over I-59!!!!


Thursday, March 20, 2008

Block Party Commercials break new cinematic ground...er..maybe

posted by Free Press Houston @ 5:02 PM



Tuesday, March 18, 2008

In case you don't know...

posted by Free Press Houston @ 3:20 PM

Sunday, March 16, 2008

SXSW 2008 Day Four

posted by Ramon Medina - LP4 @ 5:24 PM

Saturday I awoke at noon to a dry mouth, a hangover, and general signs of fatigue. Day Parties are just not in the cards when you go three days without eating anything, getting all your caloric intake entirely from whiskey and beer, and walking around Austin for 10 hours straight every day! So, Saturday was less the raging party of Friday night, but it was still great night of great people and great music.

Here on the left is the schedule I wrote up over beer and whiskey at Mugshots. Note that most of what I wrote down I didn't see. That's just how it rolls at SXSW. Take Monotonix. There was not a person I spoke to who wasn't raving about their shows. "YOU HAVE TO SEE MONOTONIX!' was the word I kept hearing over and over again. By the sounds of it, this was THE band that blew everyone's mind at this year's SXSW and if I missed out then I missed out on the biggest shit going down this year. But it was just not meant to be. Fuck schedules, you catch what you can and rolling with good friends and having a good time is a better way to approach SXSW than killing yourself trying to see everything. If that's lame, so be it.

The evening started out with Jandek performing at the Central Presbyterian Church. Now, let me just say this going into this. My appreciation of Jandek up until this point was almost academic. I appreciated the singularity of what he did as an artist and his devotion to his work and owned a couple of his records but never felt an emotional connection to what he did. The thin sounding recordings of the LPs always felt cold and distant as if you were peering in but never involved. This night though changed all those perceptions entirely. The band consisted of drums, lap steel (the always brilliant Susan Alcorn), violin, and cello. Inside the church, with its lush acoustics it sounded massive and warm like nothing I'd have expected from the albums I'd owned. It was very spiritual, patient, and as ethereal as a dream cloud. It was an inspiring and emotionally engaging highlight of SXSW for me. Honestly!

From there I went off to see Deer Tick whose debut on FEOW! records was one of my most played CDs last year. This time Deer Tick was a full band and it was a bit more rocking than what I'd expected and while it lost the intimacy of his acoustic performances his raw and emotive voice still packed a punch. John McCauley was clearly having a great time as he was horribly cheeky the entire evening and even followed the emotionally gut-wrenching "Dirty Dishes" with a full on version of "La Bamba" which was goofy to be sure but a hoot. It's a shame McCauley is so underrated as a musician, writer, and performer; he deserves better. If you missed, his debut last year go back and pick it up and see what I mean.

From there it was back to the Church to see Christina Carter and Sean David McMillan who also benefited from the lovely acoustics. I only wish the vocals were clearer. The PA could deliver the subtleties and emotiveness of her voice but not the words which was a minor complaint as the performance was a still a nuanced, patient, and brilliant. Her guitar playing was as inspiring as ever and Sean's interaction was perfection. Thanks you Signal to Noise; it's a shame I couldn't see the rest of your showcase.

Next was Hearts of Animals over at Bourbon Rocks' patio stage. She ripped through a solid set and drew a good sized crowd that stayed throughout. Yet, I couldn't help but feel it wasn't her most assured performance. She just seemed a bit nervous to me but Chris Gray thought she pegged it as did the Young Mammals and the Tontons who were standing with me. So maybe that sense of her nervousness was some weird transposition from too much booze and walking without enough food. It was great to see her get some well-deserved live exposure and appreciation outside of Houston. Bummer I'll miss her show tonight at the Mink.

From there, is was back to the Mohawk to catch-up with my posse where I ran into asshole moment number one. Here is the set-up at the door. There is a silk rope splitting the door into an exit (left) and an entrance (right). If someone was exiting, returning, or asking a question to the doorman they would approach the left side of the rope and do what they needed to do without interfering with the line on the right. So here was a single line and I'm about 5 people from the front. I see Jana Hunter two people ahead of me which puts me in a happy mood and just get through saying hi when suddenly this old big fat greased-hair motherfucker barges through on the right and there are a bunch of other assholes trying to barge through as well. People are perturbed as the line has fallen into chaos and the doormen can't control the situation. Mind you, the club isn't that packed so there is no reason for these assholes barging-in. The bouncer is yelling at people to get in a single file and I turn to one staffer and say "What you need to do is get these guys under control." and I point to the dudes to my right. I then turn to one guy to my right and say "Dude look this isn't cool." to which he grabs some badge and says with utter arrogance and a sense of privilege, "I'm one of the promoters. I put this on." I was utterly shocked. The troublemakers are the promoters? What the fuck is that all about? I just look at him and all I can muster is a shocked and matter-of-fact "Well that doesn't give you the right to act like a dick." Eventually, I get in and all is well again - assholes be damned.

First up was
Minneapolis' Best Friends Forever who were awesome fun. Now I say that if and only if you think women singing clever twee pop songs are your bag. Me? Hey, if you have a catchy poppy garagey tune that lists off all 43 US presidents with dueling vocals where one sings/talks in a hurried pace over the other vocalists melodic vocals, I'm game. Call me a sucker for musical cuteness but John Sears would understand. By the way, when I say musically cute I mean no derision to the musicians - happy, clever, and charming is just cute is all I'm saying. Plus, they had a dude with a puppet guest on a song! How freaking cute is that? BFF was sweetness and we were totally down with that.

The evening closed with Matt and Kim
who kept up the happy vibe. To be sure it was a perfect way to close out my time at SXSW with pure happiness encapsulated in simple pop songs. Matt and Kim have to be the most nicest happy band ever. Every break between songs was just this gushing thrill of playing there. They even acknowledged the door issues and kindly apologized. At one point after a song ended, I turned to my friend and said "Oh man, I so hope he says something sweet, sincere, and happy!" To which, of course, he would say something unbelievably sweet, sincere and happy then proceed to rip into another keyboard and drum rave-up that would have the crowd up and jumping like fools. There is something improbably wrong about stage diving and crowd surfing to Matt and Kim yet somehow there is something horribly appropriate at the same time. I actually felt a tinge of sadness when they closed with Silver Tiles as it announced the end to a great weekend of music and friends. Sigh. All good things must come to an end.

Love and kisses to SXSW, the musicians, all my awesome friends, and Austin, TX
It all went by too fast.
I can't wait until 2009.

Jandek


Deer Tick

Christina Carter and Sean David McMillan

Hearts Of Animals

Best Friends Forever

Matt And Kim


Our SXSW 2008 Blogs:
Day 1
Day 2
Day 3 (special poorly written raging hangover edition)
Day 4 (hungover but less so edition)

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Saturday, March 15, 2008

SXSW 2008 - Day Three

posted by Ramon Medina - LP4 @ 11:38 AM

It's 1:30PM, I haven't showered yet, I have a raging hangover, and I feel like I've just run a marathon on booze. I think Liam Finn tapped the zeitgeist of the evening when he pointed out the only two things he needed to be aware of during his set "Here is my beer and here is my whiskey!" Indeed!

But let me back up to how the day all started back at the Party of Tomorrow which actually is now the party of yesterday. Jay of Woozy Helmet put on this nice little house party of Houston and Austin bands. I arrived in time for The Mathletes who performed a solid set all the while wondering if the police standing outside the door would shut them down. David Israel followed with a set of country tinged indie rock that played lovely in the small space. Hearts of Animals was up next with a stripped down set which left me stoked for Saturday's set at Bourbon Rocks. But, even though I'd miss the Young Mammals, Sharks and Sailors, Bring Back The Guns, and Woozy Helmet, it was time to move on so from there it was off to downtown.

First thing was first - fuel! So, meeting up with some friends I proceeded to chill with a Jameson on the rocks and a Blue Moon at Mugshots which, despite it's ugly facade, is actually a pretty reasonably priced bar. So fuel being resolved, I bid avvoir to my friends and raced for a marathon random-band evening in which I just hit clubs with little forethought. First up was It Lives who caught my ear with huge fuzzed out guitar wah and thick bass that was reminiscent of Spacemen 3. Only caught 2 songs but a very cool live set. From there, I headed over to Elysium and saw Sodopp from Japan who were insanely good. The bassist was incredible - playing massive melodic runs without a pick and with a huge fat sound. Great live show except for Jethro to my left who kept shouting "I want to have your baby!" then turning to his friend and saying "They can't understand what I'm saying that's funny. Huh Huh Huh." Man, dude take your ignorant shit out to pasture; you are horribly tedious, distracting, and annoying. Whatevs Sodopp were great band that ripped it and I picked up a CD on my way out.

Next I stumbled into Lincoln Nebraska's Eagle Seagull who were on their last song. Very nice melodic stuff and reminded me how every place has these little small bands each doing their own wonderful thing. Next ran into AM, who had set up their amps and a drum kit on th street and played a set of very sloppy scrappy punk. Were they the greatest punk band ever? No, but did they put on a fun set? Yes, that's all that mattered and, by setting up like they did, they likely had more people seeing them than many small bands off 6th street. From there off to Emos here I saw Does it Offend You, Yeah who were very poppy and British but it was too crowded to be able to enjoy much of anything. From there it was of to a scheduled stop to see Liam Finn. Given my digging his father's bands I was curious to hear what he had to offer. The band consisted of Finn and a woman playing a zither. The first song was pretty good and then when Liam moved to the drum kit the song went into overdrive and got insanely heavy. Clearly there was some sampling going on but I was too far to see how they were working it. Nice set, the lad has some promise indeed. After Mr. Finn it was off to see The Back Hollies who delivered the 60's psych in spades. The drummer was a beast and the guitars were a whirly brew of effects. I had missed them last Sunday at Rudz and was thrilled to have caught them this time around. From there I went to Karma's to hook back up with my posse and see Aux Raus but unfortunately missed the dick swinging melee that my friends raved about. No worries, they had free Heineken all night which was OK by me. I abhor Heineken but for free? Hell yeah.

So uhhhh...well it kind of went downhill from there into a drunken stumbling evening of which I'll spare you the details beyond the fact that I had a blast and leave it at that. Anyhow, I need to find me a place to shave and shower now.

THE MATHLETES
DAVID ISRAEL
HEARTS OF ANIMALS

IT LIVES
SODOPP
EAGLE SEAGULL
DOES IT OFFEND YOU, YEAH
AM
LIAM FINN
THE BLACK HOLLIES



Our SXSW 2008 Blogs:
Day 1
Day 2
Day 3 (special poorly written raging hangover edition)
Day 4 (hungover but less so edition)

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Friday, March 14, 2008

SXSW 2008 - Day Two

posted by Ramon Medina - LP4 @ 7:10 AM

“My Iguana is in heat. He’s biting so make sure to have your shoes on.” explains Lori. Great, I looking at crashing on Lori’s floor over the weekend, and I have visions of me crashed on my sleeping bag and the beast either dry humping me or eating my face off. Well, this is Lori Varga (aka Lori Surfer) – who has done films for the Butthole Surfers – I‘m kind of asking for it aren’t I? Despite the prospect of menacing large reptiles, Friday at SXSW was a pretty good day.

The morning consisted of the usual check-in insanity to which you can add trying to find a parking lot and being stuck in traffic before you even got to the convention center – tedious to be sure. The one amusing thing at check-in was some dude with a video crew following him; the cameraman and the boom mic dude are getting everything. This meant an amusing diversion for us. “Dude, don’t miss that shot! He’s STANDING IN LINE!!” Dude, get that shot. He’s asking for directions! Holy shit! Get that, he’s filling out a form!” The thing is, that’s exactly what they were doing – filming every second of this young dude checking-in. What the fuck?! Who the fuck is so vain as to think that they need to video themselves filling out a goddamn form? I lay blame squarely on YouTube!

After the registration, it was off for a round of dutiful flyering. Let me save you some trouble if you play SXSW off 6th street (especially west of Capitol): save your self the money and time. It doesn’t make for a hill of beans. People aren’t going to go out of their way if you aren’t a big name act. If you get booked at a showcase at a venue that’s off the beaten path – nobody is showing up. Sorry. Book yourself on a day party for people to see you and enjoy the showcase for enjoyable and glorified rehearsal that it will be.

That was pretty much the case at The Tap at Six last night. The Houston Press had sponsored a Houston showcase off the beaten path. Unknown Houston bands in the middle of nowhere? Hey, remember that song “In the Ghetto?” Yeah, exactly. Nice idea guys but in practice it did nothing for the bands. A better thing to have done would have been to have those bands mixed in with other showcases. Hearts of Animals is playing Bourbon Rocks on Saturday on 6th street with Cheveau, Monotonix, and the Slits. What a waste it would have been to have had her play at the Houston Press stage. You tell me, which showcase would you rather play if you want to expose yourself to a new audience? Right, exactly. Sorry Houston Press. I appreciate the thought and effort so don't take this too harshly but, in practice, it doesn’t work if it's not on 6th street or at least Red River.

That being said the Houston Press showcase did have some sets that did deserve better attendance. The Young Mammals played a sloppy set but it was still solid fun. The Ton Tons also played a strong set. The guitar and vocals are exceptional and as one guy said “This band understands dynamics. When the heavy hits, it’s heavy.” Yeah that’s a good assessment mister.

After the Ton Tons we headed off to the Mohawk. Parts and Labor, Citay, Jens Lekman, and Black Mountain were playing and, given the posse I was with that night, I figured Black Mountain would be right up their alley. Unfortunately, the place was packed beyond use. I got in with my badge but my posse got tired of waiting inline and headed home. That was OK, I caught a bit of Bon Iver who put on a great show but as they were sitting you couldn’t see them above the heads in the crowd. Nice patient folksy melodic with some great harmonies that would have to great crescendo on songs that hit a lovely emotional nerve. Yet, the crowd was a bit much and, as I’d heard the other bands, I figured I’d bail and see what else was up and hopefully see something I’d never heard before.

On the way out I ran into Joe Mathlete who told me Speedy Motorcycle was not extending its run as they’d hoped - bummer. But the good news is Joe’s coming back to Houston soon. Joe and I headed down to Emo’s IV and caught the first song of Indian Jewelry which was insanely good. The stage being raised at shoulder level made for an exceptional show. I was right up to the stage the sound waves from the drums had this chest pounding THUD THUD THUD that grabbed you and pulled you in. Great show and a good crowd too.

From there we headed to Fuck Buttons from Bristol, UK at the Red Eyed Fly. Fuck Buttons are face each other across a table and proceed to play a motley assortment of effects, toys, and electronics. The primarily worked off of layering sounds into a hypnotic pulse of vocals, beats and electronics that made you wonder where the poppers were. Great set! A blast!

The highlight of the evening was Barcelona, Spain’s El Guincho which was one dude with a Roland sampler he’d play with his left hand and a drumstick in his right hand playing percussion. “Give me more bass!” He’d command the soundman, “No more bass! I want to feel it! No! No! Mooooore Bass!” That fucker had it right. Once he got the sound he wanted, the thump of the floor tom would simply drive the audience nuts. The percussion was a fast bouncy beat far removed from the more familiar club beats of Fuck Buttons. These were poppy happy “get your ass up and dance” beats. In short, he was a one person Carnival except we weren’t parading down a street but hopping up and down in a club. Yes, even I, the non-dancer, found myself bouncing up and down! That is quite an accomplishment.

THE YOUNG MAMMALS



THE TON TONS


INDIAN JEWELRY
FUCK BUTTONS

EL GUINCHO



Our SXSW 2008 Blogs:
Day 1
Day 2
Day 3 (special poorly written raging hangover edition)
Day 4 (hungover but less so edition)

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Thursday, March 13, 2008

SXSW - Finally Here - March 13th 2008

posted by Ramon Medina - LP4 @ 7:42 AM

Well my first SXSW day was a bust. I'd picked up my dad's truck early (I'd borrowed it to haul equipment) , left work at 11am, and by all measures I should have been leaving Houston by no later than 3PM but instead found myself paying a wrecker $72 bucks to get me from a CVS just a few blocks from my house to my dad's mechanic. By 3pm the verdict was in; it was a dead starter. It would be another three hours to get the part and install it meaning at best I'd be leaving Houston by 8pm. As it turns out, I left at 9pm and arrived is Austin by 12:15am just missing check-in for SXSW which meant there was no way to catch any bands - though REM sounded in fine form over at Stubbs - so instead I spent the next two hours dutifully flyering.

Once nice thing was I did run into old pals Lick Lick who were loading-out. I apologized to Matt for missing the show to which he jokingly replied while pointing to myself and some other Houstonites, "Whatever! The guitarist from Scratch Acid was there watching us! Screw you guys." After which, the band deputized me to load the Leslie cabinet into the van. Finally! I was accomplishing something!

Yeah, roadie for Lick Lick! I know! Hardly the exciting reportage Omar was hoping for but the good news is I'm in town, I will be checked-in, and settled . I hope Rhonda Garner was right and that, with the car trouble behind me, I have I gotten the annoying shit out of the way first.

So, I don't know about you guys but I'm off to grab some coffee, check-in, and see some music.



Our SXSW 2008 Blogs:
Day 1
Day 2
Day 3 (special poorly written raging hangover edition)
Day 4 (hungover but less so edition)

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

SXSW: Not just for frat boys

posted by Free Press Houston @ 2:17 PM



Alas, many of you are heading to Austin in the coming days in anticipation of the white-people clusterfuck that is SXSW. We are a touch behind the curve in coverage as we are slammed with preparing for next month's Westheimer Block Party. Fret not though, our homies at Space City Rock have extended coverage and the fine folks at Skyline have concocted a masterful guide.

In the meanwhile, we are hoping one of the many Free Press scumfucks who ventured to Austin will graciously do some crunkt-astic posting. Till then....

Monday, March 10, 2008

Montrose Blvd Blues: Springtime in the Trose'

posted by Free Press Houston @ 8:08 AM


Craig Kinsey of the Sideshow Tramps, affectionately known as 'Reverand', has inadvertently recorded the National Anthem of the Montrose. I had the pleasure to hear this song played on the streets more than 8 months ago and am delighted to hear it finally put to tape. This ode to all things 'Trose', is a comprehensive view of the clutch-ness that is Montrose in the spring-time. From thrift store girls to art-cars, everyone gets their fair due and Reverand wraps it all in laid back melody only befitting our fair city. Check that shit, add it to your myspace page, and hopefully, it will be compulsory for every child in this neighborhood to learn it by age 3. God Bless the Trose'.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

The Crumudgeon can't shirk his duties...this week's bad ass shows!

posted by Ramon Medina - LP4 @ 7:25 PM


Damn it's late but I'm gonna feel like an asshole if you miss a bad ass show. So here you are! Straight up, no bells and whistles, no featured show, just a no-frills listing of a mere handful of bad ass shows this week. Now turn off that TV and get out!


Friday March 7th
Andre Williams
@ The Continental
Oh bad ass! Things are gonna get nasty indeed.

Saturday March 8th
Pat Todd and The Rank Outsiders / Lazy Horse / Alarma @ Rudyards (Link)
Pat Todd Played in a little band called The Lazy Cowgirls. Straight up garagey Rock and roll at it's best. Sloppy bad asses Lazy Horse and Alarma will keep it fun and sloppy like the good lord intended.

The Hates, Nectarine, The Delta Block, Rusted Shut, A Thousand Cranes
@ the Engine Room
Yeah I know his name is Christian but every time I see him go by on his scooter all I can think is "HATES DUDE! Go Hates Dude! Ride with that Mohawk in the wind like the punker you are!" I mean sure he didn't have a Mohawk back in the late 70's and early 80's when the Hates first started but Hates Dude has earned it - no hatin' here! I just think it's bad ass! Rusted Shut are also tenacious bastards. Much like a zombies in search of fresh brains they keep coming, are hard to kill, and have poor table manners. Go see them just don't stand too close.

Sunday March 9th
The Black Hollies / Bipolaroid / The Gold Sounds @Rudyards (Link)
The Black Hollies are straight-up bad ass 60's pop paisley shit with fuzzed out guitars and harmonies that is best listened to with black lights, a lava lamp and a hella lot of LSD! New Orleans native Bipolaroid channels a Syd Barret Pink Floyd pop that , while less dense than The Black Hollies,. is no less effective and transcendent. I'm pretty stoked.

Monday March 10th
Mumpsey / Band Le Grand/ the Swimmers
@ NOTSUOH
The opening band, The Swimmers, hails from Philly and write some lovely bright and bouncy bad ass pop.


Municipal Waste, Iron Lung, PLF, El desmadre
@ The Meridian
Oh man this is gonna be some bad ass and sweaty hardcore bill!


Tuesday March 11th
Von Iva / Pash / Wicked Poseur / Lennie Briscoe
@ Rudyards (link)
Umm Disco Beats, bad ass Moogs everywhere, Dancing, and at least one dude in the audience with a bad coke habit.

Parts and Labor , Ecstatic Sunshine, Red Rocket, Giant Princess
@ the backroom at the Mink

Parts and Labor put on such a great noisy and fun show that to me the albums never quite hold up as well - that's a compliment to their bad ass live shows. Ecstatic Sunshine are a bit more abstract - If you've smoked dope to Pupul Vuh You may dig it too. Local cats Giant Princess have been making some waves around town and are worth catching.

thedeathset, Ponytail, Air Waves (fomer The Unicorns member) & These Powers Are
@ Boondocks
Ponytail are so bad ass I'm not even going to bother mentioning the other bands! No wait Brooklyn's These Powers are are pretty awesome too in a very similarly bad ass manner. Just Go OK? It'll be bad ass!

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The Local Music Curmudgeon takes a two week hiatus from the preview section...

posted by Ramon Medina - LP4 @ 12:10 PM

Hi readers,

I'll be taking a two week hiatus on the weekly preview section as I am gearing up for SXSW next week. Attention grammar and typing teachers: don't breathe a sigh of relief just yet! I'll still be blogging from A-Town next week during SXSW.

In the meantime, given that these next two weeks will see a flood of great bands passing through our fair city, I highly recommend you peruse the exhaustive calendar at Space City Rock which is the granddaddy of all local music blogs here in Houston.

See y'all Next week in Austin.



P.S. - I hope you learned one thing after you stood in line for an eternity in Tuesday's inclusive and convenient caucus only to realize that the Democrat candidate will likely be picked by a small group of Super-Delegates beholden to no one. Democrats? Republicans? Screw those guys! Come November, vote for the one candidate with true vision:




ALL GLORY TO HYPNOTOAD!!!!



Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Burnout: Paradise review. The Art of the Car Crash

posted by Free Press Houston @ 12:23 PM

By Tyler Barber



It's too bad most gamers don't use their console's USB camera, because my favorite extra in Burnout Paradise, Mugshots, doesn't get the mileage it deserves: your camera will take snapshots of your victorious moments while racing against your friends, or feral strangers, online. But the main draw here isn't flicking-off someone online, but the seamless integration of the single and multiplayer modes. With a tap of the d-pad you'll instantly hook up to race against, or just mess around with your online friends. Not just a great way to race either, there's plenty of stat keeping on each street that updates who's ahead of who for everything in Paradise City. In order to get all those people online, however, it takes a arcade approach to racing that may have some sim-gearheads wanting a bit more.

While the most talked about feature in Paradise may be the online stuff, offline there's still plenty of racer to go around. Each intersection acts as a starting point to one of several game modes. Of which, Marked Man, and Road Rage are definitely my favorite, and are noticeably absent from the online racing. Marked man is a one man race where your opponents aren't gunning for first place, but are trying to total your ride before you cross the finish line. In Road Rage there's no finish line, and your goal is to takedown a certain number of cars before times run out. These modes had me the most hype, jumping out of my seat with holy-shit phrases cheering the amount of destruction each crash rendered. And glorious these crashes are. Each crash looks straight out of a Hollywood action flick.

Racing across the open-city can be overwhelming at first. I lost several races where I was in the first-place position, but veering off the main path sent me into no-man's-land. Even in the losses though, Paradise's open world is forgiving enough that you'll almost never feel too slighted for losing a race. Mainly, I wish there was a quick retry option on the Burning Route races where you earn advanced models of each vehicle. Burning Route races are held at very specific locations, and trudging back all the way to the start when you lost near the finish is a chore.



Another side-step is the gimmicky Showtime mode that replaces the popular Crash Mode of previous Burnouts. Before you actually felt like you caused this massive domino-like-collision, whereas now you hop along the road like a fish-out-of-water aiming for oncoming traffic. With luck, we'll get to download the classic Crash Mode in the near future.

Burnout Paradise does an excellent job at ushering the arcade racer into the realm of next-gen gameplay. The forward-thinking online integration alone could have a ripple effect on other genres' multiplayer plans. Even if you're not into racing games much, give Burnout Paradise a try, if just for the crashes. My biggest challenge with Burnout Paradise, though, is prying my friends from their Call of Duty 4 multiplayer addiction to join me online.

Final Grade: A-

Proletariat gets tagged!

posted by Free Press Houston @ 9:58 AM


photo by Mark Roach

Ah...the prolo gets tagged. About time....

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Department of Defense recycles Chinese intelligence

posted by Free Press Houston @ 4:10 PM


By Alex Wukman

The Department of Defense released the new Military Power of the People’s Republic of China Monday that stated China will have a 17.6% increase in military spending. A figure the Washington Post reported as being “roughly equal to last year’s increase.”
Unfortunately the Washington Post was only half right with their statement. China’s spending increase isn’t about the same as last year’s it is last year’s. In fact much of the 2008 report is the same as the 2007 report with minor changes in wording.
The beginning of the executive summary to the 2007 report states “China's rapid rise as a regional political and economic power with global aspirations is an important element of today's strategic environment -- one that has significant implications for the region and the world. The United States welcomes the rise of a peaceful and prosperous China, and it encourages China to participate as a responsible international stakeholder by taking on a greater share of responsibility for the health and success of the global system.”
The 2008 report begins with the lines “China’s rapid rise over recent years as a regional political and economic power with growing global influence is an important element in today’s strategic landscape, one that has significant implications for the region and the world. The United States welcomes the rise of a stable, peaceful and prosperous China.” The report then goes on to reuse the “responsible stakeholder” line.
The 2008 report also states in the Executive Summary that “China’s near-term focus on preparing for contingencies in the Taiwan Strait, including the possibility of U.S. intervention, is an important driver of its modernization. The 2007 report found that “China's near-term focus on preparing for military contingencies in the Taiwan Strait, including the possibility of U.S. intervention, appears to be an important driver of its modernization plans.”
Further on in the section labeled “Developments in China’s Military Forces” The 2007 report irrevocably states that “China is pursuing long-term, comprehensive transformation of its military forces to improve its capabilities for power projection, anti-access, and area denial. Consistent with a near-term focus on preparing for offensive Taiwan Strait contingencies, China deploys its most advanced systems to the military regions directly opposite Taiwan.”
Inexplicably the 2008 report finds the same conclusion in a little different wording “China’s long-term comprehensive transformation of its military forces is improving its capacity for force projection and anti-access/area denial. Consistent with a near-term focus on preparing for Taiwan Strait contingencies, China deploys many of its most advanced systems to the military regions opposite Taiwan.”
In what many would argue is the single most important part of this assessment, the section on Ballistic and Cruise Missiles, the 2007 report states that “China is modernizing its longer-range ballistic missile force by adding more survivable systems. The road-mobile, solid-propellant DF-31 intercontinental-range ballistic missile (ICBM) achieved initial threat availability in 2006 and will likely achieve operational status in the near future, if it has not already done so.”
A year later and the information has become a little sparser, but it’s still there. “China is modernizing its longer range ballistic missile force by adding more survivable systems. Most notably the DF-31 and longer range DF-31A are now being deployed to units within the Second Artillery Corps.”
Another point of extreme similarity involves China’s deployment of missiles opposite Taiwan. In 2007 the Department of Defense stated that “By October 2006, China had deployed roughly 900 mobile CSS-6 and CSS-7 short-range ballistic missiles to garrisons opposite Taiwan, expanding at a rate of more than 100 missiles per year. Newer versions of these missiles have improved range and accuracy.
In 2008 they stated that “by November 2007 the PLA had deployed between 990 and 1,070CSS-6 and CSS-7 short-range ballistic missiles (SRBM) to garrisons opposite Taiwan. It is increasing this force at a rate of more than 100 missiles per year including variants of these missiles with improved ranges, accuracies and payloads.”
When it comes to submarine warfare the 2007 report states that: “China is also working on a new submarine-launched ballistic missile, the JL-2 (IOC 2007-2010), for deployment on a new JIN-class (Type 094) nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarine, also in development.”
And the 2008 report: “China is also working on a new submarine-launched ballistic missile, the JL-2 for deployment aboard new JIN-class (Type 094) nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarines (SSBN). The JL-2 is expected to reach initial operational capacity (IOC) between 2009-2010.”
Sadly seeing that both of these reports state the same information begs the question how much does the intelligence community really know about China?

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Watch Me Explode!

posted by _ @ 2:12 PM

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Dave Clark Five remembered

posted by Free Press Houston @ 9:12 PM

Later this month year the Dave Clark Five will be inducted into the rock and roll hall of fame only Mike Smith lead vocalist and keyboard player died last week. So close yet so far away. Does it matter that the DC5 challenged the beatles in their heyday, or that HAVING A WILD WEEKEND, released in the U.S. as Catch Me If You Can is the most underrated rock film of the 60s? During that time frame certainly John Boorman was the David Fincher of the 60s.