Houston's 10 Most Eccentric Musicians

Screencap from Hearts of Animals "Sea Babies"
Let's preface this with the fact that I was once one of Houston's premiere musical weirdoes, staging insane protests and inventing toilet-paper cannons for the Black Math Experiment's live shows. So when I say that the following ten H-town rockers are a little crazy, I mean that in the most complimentary manner possible.

Everyone else can go on with their belief that Austin is where you go for out-there musicians, but we proudly present these folks as counter-evidence.

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How Robert Ehlinger Became Houston's Prince of Synth-Pop

Categories: Best of Houston

Photo courtesy of Robert Ehlinger
Robert Ehlinger is in his element in the DJ booth of Etro Lounge during one of his "The New Beat" nights.
Walking through the club is like stepping back 30 years in time. Moving among the people dancing to songs by bands like Erasure and Anything Box, one could be forgiven for mistakenly thinking a time warp had opened onto a dance club in the 1980s. But this is The New Beat, a monthly event held at Etro Lounge in Montrose run by Robert Ehlinger.

On this Saturday, like most New Beat nights, the enthusiastic and ambitious Ehlinger is hard at work in his control center, the club's DJ booth, pumping songs out for the eager patrons. Club nights dedicated to '80s music have been around almost since that decade came to an end, but The New Beat has the feel of an event with more passion behind it. Asked how he came to be a successful club promoter, Ehlinger had this to say:

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Congratulations, Best of Houston® 2014 Music & Nightlife Winners

Houston is fun. Even if the ink is still wet on the lease you just signed after relocating here to work in the Bayou City's booming energy or health-care sectors, it shouldn't take you any more than 48 hours before something here makes you wonder how you ever got along back wherever it is you came from -- a restaurant, a store, a bar, a park, or maybe something uniquely Houston like the Williams Tower waterwall or the no-cover Wednesday-night blues jam at the Big Easy.

You came here at the right time, too. This week -- today, really -- the Houston Press is proud to unveil our annual Best of Houston issue, the product of the combined efforts of dozens of HP staffers and freelancers several months in the making. With dozens, if not hundreds, of winners in all sorts of categories (grouped into the wide-ranging fields of Arts & Entertainment, City Life, Food & Drink, Shopping & Services and Sports & Recreation), this issue should serve as a much better map of Houston than one that shows our often-congested roadways.

Now, Houstonians of an older vintage, we know we're not telling you anything you don't already know...or are we? You'll want to hold onto that not-so-slim volume that comes in this week's issue of the Press, and bookmark its online counterpart, just as much as our newcomers. Because Houston is a city that's always changing, always taking chances, some categories that have been around for years our longtime readers assume are shoo-ins might suddenly have a new winner. But other categories, like so many of our new neighbors, may not have even been around last year.

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Heads Up: Best of Houston 2014 and the Readers' Choice Awards Drop Next Week

Categories: Best of Houston

Just a heads up from your friends here at the Houston Press: We are literally one week away from our Best of Houston 2014 issue hitting the streets.

We've been all across this great city we call home looking for the very best that Houston has to offer. Food has been eaten. Clubs have been visited. Parks have been enjoyed.

And it's not just our picks that you'll be reading. You got to vote in 100 categories for your favorite things in Houston. We hope you're as excited to see who you picked as we are.

Houston is awesome, and we look forward to sharing the best of it with you next week.

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The 2014 Best of Houston® Readers' Poll: Vote Now for the Best of Houston Nightlife!

Categories: Best of Houston

Live somewhere long enough and you develop a collection of favorite locations, places you can always count on to deliver a good times or good service. You have your favorite museum to explore, your favorite spot to grab a glass of wine, your favorite place to work out, so on and so forth.

In a few weeks, our Best of Houston® 2014 issue is going to drop and we'll have our list of favorites for you to read and check out. Of course, we also know that you feel very passionate about some of the subjects, which is why we're giving you the chance to let us know what your favorite spots are.

That's right, it's time for the 2014 Best of Houston® Readers' Poll.

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Vote Your Readers' Choice for Our Annual Best of Houston Issue

Categories: Best of Houston

It's time
We're getting ready for our annual Best of Houston issue, which will hit the stands in early October.

This year's theme: we're gamblers willing to take chances and roll the dice. As a result, Houston has prospered and even when the pot gets low, we double down and rebound. And so do the people who live here in every category from restaurants to government to health, to sports and music. Houston is holding a winning hand and we're going to tell everyone so in this year's Best of Houston.

The other important part of BOH -- besides our writers' picks -- is our Readers' Choice awards. That's where you tell us what you think the best places/people are in 99 categories as well as the category we forgot.

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Rest of the Best: Houston's 10 Best Bands (With Only Two Members)

Categories: Best of Houston

Ghost of Cliff Burton
Bill Curtner and I contemplating how awesome it is to not have to argue with four other band members.
I went from being in a band that at its biggest had six members to ending up in one that has only two. Let me tell you something, it is fantastic! Thanks to modern technology, you can replace damn near any instrument and boil down an artistic vision to two mates that get along. I wouldn't trade it for any other sort of lineup.

And apparently I'm not alone, because a fair amount of musical duos in Houston have also found the tag-team to be the most effective way to deliver audio sucker-punches. Here follows 20 people who constitute ten phenomenal acts.

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Rest of the Best: Houston's Top 10 Bars of 2013

This is a picture from Houston's best bar. But where is it?
Houston has dozens of bars that are not also something else (restaurants, coffeehouses, etc.), just places designed for people to who want to shirk their responsibilities while someone else plots to take over the world at the next stool, and the couple at the table in the back is on their first date of a lifelong love affair. Or something like that.

As the year draws to a close, Rocks Off grew curious about which of this city's multitude of watering holes could really be called the best, so recently we asked our regular contributors (some 15 people in all) to give us the handful of places they most enjoyed spending a night out drinking. They didn't even have to tell us why, but these are the ten places whose names came up most often.

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Houston's 10 Best-Sounding Music Venues

Categories: Best of Houston

Photo by Jeff Balke
Sound makes a difference.
Listening is not necessarily the strong suit of Houstonians who frequent live-music venues. But for those who do choose to silence themselves and their phones for live performances (or those drowned out by the sound system), there are certain places around town that are built for great sound. These venues, be they large or small, find ways -- either through acoustics, great sound systems or both -- to generate sounds that are pleasing to the ears even if the bands aren't.

On this list, we have purposefully left off the big venues like Cynthia Woods or Toyota Center. So many of these larger venues are not built for sound and what fans do hear is largely reliant upon the sound engineer and system provided by the touring artist, it is unfair to include them here. Suffice it to say big traveling acts rarely sound bad, but that is not always the case with locals, so having great venues is even more of a blessing when you can't afford a great sound guy or PA system.

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Houston's Top 10 Hookup Bars

As does our sister blog Eating...Our Words, from time to time Rocks Off will be giving your our picks for the top taverns in various Houston-area neighborhoods. Of course, the lines can be porous, but here anything with a TABC license that cannot reasonably be considered either a restaurant, coffeehouse or live-music venue is fair game.

You guys can just call me this weekend's wing-woman. Don't say I never gave ya anything...

notsuoH is still unabashedly quirky, full of artsy folks, cheap beer, and crazy indie bands cranking out some sweet tunes. Its eclectic nature and the patrons' chill vibe creates the perfect setting to snag that random weekend hookup with no apologies. Just don't pull any bro stuff (please), or you're bound to unseal the deal.

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