The 5 Best Shows In Houston This Week: November 19-22
The first Latino hip-hop group to gain stardom, Cypress Hill brought a whiff of Cheech & Chong comedy to their red-eyed rapping, but were hardly playing around on songs like "Hand on the Pump" and "How I Could Just Kill a Man." Sen Dog and B Real's gritty rhymes could hold their own with South Central and East L.A.'s finest until everything went loco on 1993's Black Sunday and their white audience exploded.
They paid back their new fans in kind by working more and more alt-rock into subsequent albums, exhaling another hit on 2000's "Rock Superstar." Meanwhile, DJ Muggs's blunted beats helped influence Dr. Dre and trip-hop, and are fundamental to the pungent bass brew cooked up by the likes of recent Cypress collaborator Rusko. CHRIS GRAY
Boy, the end of the year is coming up a lot faster than most of us would like to admit, but one good thing about all that is that it's already time to start reflecting on the quality local albums to come out in 2012. John Egan's Phantoms, released this past spring, certainly qualifies for me.
"Egan sings in a tone that suggests someone is constantly walking over his grave, and his lyrics are loaded with bad mojo like nature gone haywire ('The Mississippi Ran Backwards'), apocalyptic visions ('John the Revelator') and a clenched-teeth cover of Bruce Springsteen's "State Trooper,'" I wrote back in March. Egan and his Resonator guitar have been raising hell at The Big Easy Monday nights for several months, so now would be an excellent time to kick-start your mojo for the holidays. CHRIS GRAY
House of Blues, November 20
Matisyahu's latest album, Spark Seeker, practically screams "fresh start." There's no more full beard, and the man once christened "the Hasidic reggae superstar" recently relocated from the East Coast to L.A. "Let yesterday burn and throw it in the fire," he sings on "Live Like a Warrior," one of many songs on the album where Matisyahu declares himself ready to seize his moment.
Produced by Kool Kojak (Nicki Minaj, Ke$ha), Spark Seeker is a relentlessly positive, big-screen world-pop record saturated with rhythm, far beyond his usual roots-reggae and dancehall flows. They're still there, of course, but here Matisyahu also welcomes rapper Shyne on two songs, widens the focus even further for big-beat dance productions "Breathe Easy" and "Tel Avivn" and makes the ancient Mideast flavor of "King Crown of Judah" sound utterly contemporary. CHRIS GRAY