Bastille at House of Blues, 4/23/2014

Categories: Last Night

Photos by Nicholas Zalud
House of Blues
April 23, 2014

Bastille could very well be the next Coldplay, OneRepublic or Ed Sheeran. The London-based quartet possesses all of the necessary characteristics and already has the world's collective ear, but first they need to choose a direction.

Right now, their sound is too disjointed. The combination of soaring choruses and electronic tinges are underscored by Dan Smith's accented vocals, creating a welcoming sound for music lovers of all types, but Bastille spreads itself too thin.

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The Rocks Off 200: DJ Baby Roo, Vegetarian Hip-Hop Veteran

Welcome to The Rocks Off 200, our portrait gallery of the most compelling profiles and personalities in the far-flung Houston music community -- a lot more than just musicians, but of course they're in there too. See the original Rocks Off 100 at this link.

Photos by Marco Torres
DJ Baby Roo, who grew up mostly on Houston's Northside, introduces himself as "Ruben Jimenez, family man, sibling, corporate citizen and every so often, a DJ." He says he was surrounded by breakdancing, punk rock, New Wave and skateboarding, and although he couldn't breakdance himself, "I did always love the music everyone was breakin' to." Starting out with punk Baby Roo says he tastes began leaning towards hip-hop once he heard Eric B & Rakim's Follow the Leader.

"That album is what cemented my dedication if not intervention-worthy addiction to hip-hop," he admits. "I would go to sleep listening to that tape every night till it popped."

When his brother began spinning records as DJ Shawn Jay (formally DJ Lord Vishnu), he started to bring home lots of records. Through him he met Bilal 9, who Baby Roo describes as "the host of a militant radio show on KPFT." He says he asked Bilal why he always had two copies of every record, and through that met another DJ, Frosty Ice, who was the vinyl supplier.

"I knew it then, this DJ thing, I wanted that," he says.

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Walking an Awesome Mile With Nathan Quick

Categories: Listen Up!

Nathan Quick at the 2012 HPMA Showcase
The last time I had heard of Nathan Quick it was a passing notice that he'd captured the 2012 Houston Press Music Award for best singer-songwriter. I always meant to check out his stuff, but life got in the way. Now I regret it because if his latest six-song album is any indication, Quick is a true Houston musical treasure.

The Mile feels like so many different artists at once that it's hard to nail down a real comparison. You can hear touches of everyone from Tom Petty and Nick Cave to Blitzen Trapper and even brushes of local acts like Folk Family Revival. He's a jangling, poetic sort of dude who dances a fine line between aspirational lyrical brilliance and pure, pop-driven love-and-loss tunes.

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Can't Knock Me Down: Vex Singer Returns for One Last Howl

Photos courtesy of David Ensminger
In a time before Houston was overly infested with sprawl, when portions of downtown were dripping with decay, mechanical bull-riding mesmerized crowds at Gilley's, and police violence regularly marred neighborhoods, bands like Vex, peppered with heavy duty politics, the "plague" of punk, and bruising live sets, set themselves far apart from wafer-thin New Wave and moronic glam-metal that held sway in the 1980s.

They sided with a slightly older set of witty, spirited outcasts like Really Red, Orgasm, Mydolls, Anarchitex and the Hates, whose music -- rank with disaffection and disarray -- served as a countercultural beacon in the Reagan era.

Singer Mike May (who also later joined Keelhaul and Crust), now suffering from Stage-4 melanoma, was the band's center of gravity.

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The Last VJ's Five Best Videos of the Week

Welcome back to The Last VJ, music fans. This week I show you the most disturbing thing I have ever run across. It makes Grinderman's "Heathen Child" look like a Bieber video, and no, I'm not joking at all.

Plus, Jason Voorhees tries to turn his life around and we go to outer space in a cardboard rocket ship. It's all good this week.

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We Broke Up, But Now I Want Him Back. Help!

Welcome to Ask Willie D, Rocks Off's advice column where the Geto Boys MC answers reader questions about matters, in his own words, "funny, serious or unpredictable." Something on your mind? Ask Willie D!

Photo by Mario Jaramillo

Dear Willie D:

I just got out of a bad relationship with a guy who is a dog in every sense of the word; all he needs is a collar and leash. Not only was he unfaithful, he was a user. Anytime we went somewhere, he always expected me to pay. My boyfriend before him was the polar opposite: if we went out, he insisted on paying for lunch and dinner. He opened doors and was an all-around gentlemen.

He was also loyal to me. But when he allowed me to take him for granted, I guess I just got used to walking over him and lost respect for him. Soon I started being cordial with a guy at the gym where I work out. I will admit my attraction to him was mainly physical at first because he was in great shape and he knew it. He is above average-looking but his physique gave him a level of confidence that women find attractive.

Shortly after meeting him I broke it off with my boyfriend to pursue a relationship with him. But after just two months in I realized that I had made a big mistake and ended the relationship. I want my old boyfriend back but I'm ashamed to tell him. How do I build up the courage to ask him back?

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The 10 Most Memorable '80s TV Theme Songs

Oh, how we miss the '80s.

It was a happy time, when life was full of neon spandex, leg-warmers and high-top Reeboks as far as the eye could see. Sure, there were too many dudes sporting man-perms, but they always threw in an accompanying mullet for good measure, and the beloved beard was always an added accessory.

But as much as we admire the creativity of the '80s fashion trends, the questionable attire wasn't the best part of the decade. Nor was the Lite Brite, on which your baby brother nearly choked on the tiny colored bulb, or the Teddy Ruxpin, which quickly became suspected of demonic possession. Those things were all great, but there was something much, much better: the TV theme songs.

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HAIM at House of Blues, 4/22/2014

Photos by Nicholas Zalud
Danielle Haim
House of Blues
April 22, 2014

Aspiring bands wondering how to go from obscurity to selling out House of Blues in barely two years could do worse than studying HAIM's example. In this case, the L.A. act fronted by the three Haim sisters fills a niche that hardly even existed previously: girls next door who happen to be badass musicians. Both categories are abundant within the past 50 years of pop history, true, but not together in the kind of proportions that HAIM brings to the table.

There is a little more to it than that, yes. Originally from the San Fernando Valley, Este, Danielle and Alana Haim (pronounced HEYE-m) have already had their share of lucky breaks. Their arrival/discovery at SXSW 2012 looks destined to be a story HAIM tells at many a Texas show to come. Onstage, they come across as genial, wisecracking young ladies who are unafraid to be cheesy and will let an f-bomb fly at the drop of a hat. They're easy to root for.

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FPSF Adds Monster Houston Rap Supergroup

Free Press Summer Fest is a little more than a month and a half away, but even though the already-packed festival lineup has been released, more names are getting added, including a Swishahouse trio that kick started the second Houston rap surge in 2005.

Paul Wall, Slim Thug and Mike Jones himself have been added to the bill in a supergroup informally dubbed "Welcome to Houston," along with Houston mainstays Devin ihe Dude, Z-Ro and Port Arthur's own Trill OG, Bun B.

"We wanted to do something special we haven't done before, that has never been done before: Bring some of our favorite hometown heroes on stage all at once for one historic performance," FPSF said in a press release.

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Prog-Rock Legends Wishbone Ash: Nostalgia "Not the Whole Story"

Photos courtesy of Wishbone Ash
Wishbone Ash today: Joe Crabtree (drums), Andy Powell (lead vocals/guitar), Bob Skeat (bass), and Muddy Manninen (guitar).
One of the greatest prog-rock albums ever, Wishbone Ash's 1972 epic Argus also remains the English band's best-known and definitive sonic statement.

And while other acts in the genre like Yes, Jethro Tull, ELP and Genesis have wider name recognition, Wishbone Ash has cultivated a cult following by consistently touring and recording in some formation since its founding in 1969.

The current lineup, which features original co-vocalist/guitarist Andy Powell, along with Muddy Manninen (guitar), Bob Skeat (bass) and Joe Crabtree (drums), is performing Argus in its entirety on its current tour. However, there's still plenty of stage time to explore both the band's rich history and its brand-new record, Blue Horizon (Solid Rockhouse).

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