The 11 Best Houston Releases of 2013
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
List continues on the next page.