Top Five Choices for Ted Cruz's 2016 Campaign Song

Categories: Current Events

Image by DonkeyHotey via Flickr
Ted Cruz enjoys a cup of "victory juice."
Whatever you may think of Texas Republican Senator Ted Cruz (we plead the 5th), Monday morning
he announced his candidacy for the 2016 presidential nomination. Immediately, Twitter went ape shit. Some think the sky may be falling. Others just think it's politics as usual and he's just another cog in the status quo.

But Republican or Democrat, independent or doomsday prepper, whatever you may think and however you may feel about the announcement as a whole, here are five songs that could or should be the new Cruz 2016 theme song.

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New Matador Signee Steve Gunn Is Finally Having a Moment

Categories: Current Events

Photo by Constance Mensh/Courtesy of Pitch Perfect PR
Steve Gunn, new Matador signee from the indie-rock hotbed of Philadelphia.
After recording and releasing albums for over 8 years of serene, picturesque indie rock, Steve Gunn is finally having his moment. The Brooklyn musician originally from Philadelphia, who kickstarted his current tour in Marfa this past weekend, is playing Walter's Thursday night, mere weeks after signing to indie stalwarts Matador Records to release his next album. His profile is on the rise after a warm reception to his stellar album from 2014, Way Out Weather, from which many became familiar with him for the first time.

The album was a breakout for Gunn, a triumphant showcase of his technical prowess on the guitar. The album's eight songs pull off the trick of being sharply focused and meticulously arranged rock songs that give off the illusion of being meandering, the kind of record one can easily get lost in.

Even though he is early in the process of writing his next album, which he won't even finish recording until the fall, he was excited to share the news about signing with Matador as soon as it happened.

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Smaller Fests in Marfa and McAllen Offer Easy SXSW Alternatives

Categories: Current Events

Photo courtesy of Marfa Myths
The historic Ballroom Marfa, site of Marfa Myths
This weekend marks the start of SXSW in Austin, where thousands of bands come to Austin, Texas from around the world to play in industry showcases. For music lovers, it's an enticing experience, but also overwhelming. Most hotels are booked months in advance, traffic around the events is worse than Houston rush hour, and nearly every venue has a line that may take hours before you see the band you're looking for.

Over the past few years, spillover festivals -- smaller events where bands from SXSW play nearby cities the same week -- have become prevalent in cities around Texas. This year two such festivals, Marfa Myths in Marfa and Galax Z Fair in McAllen, present an opportunity to catch rare performances in unique settings without having to deal with the heavy crowds and hectic atmosphere that SXSW often brings.

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10 Acts Who Should Replace R. Kelly at FPSF

Hot Gossip Italia via Flickr
Could Bey be a hometown hero for FPSF?
For the first time in its burgeoning existence, Free Press Summer Fest is engaged in a legitimate controversy. Activist groups, music bloggers and Summer Fest ticket buyers have called on the festival to cancel one of its main-stage acts, R&B crooner R. Kelly.

Kelly has long been dogged by accusations of pedophilia. His alleged sex crimes against youths were classified as "stomach-churning" and "horrific." He was tried and acquitted of child pornography charges, but the stigma remains. In the eyes of many, Kelly is a sexual predator whose presence is unwelcome.

The most vocal opposition has come from the ranks of Girls Rock Camp Houston, which helped launch the "Cancel R. Kelly at FPSF 2015" social-media campaign. Over the course of about a week, the movement has drawn the interest of most local-media outlets as well as the attention of music-news observers from Stereogum and the Washington Post.

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FPSF Taking Some Heat for R. Kelly Booking

Photo courtesy of RCA Records
"Yall keep your teenage daughters safe during FPSF with r kelly being in town," says @the_sassy_salvy on Twitter, one of many users to voice displeasure with the singer's appearance at the festival.
Free Press Summer Fest's booking of R. Kelly, the R&B star who has been dogged by allegations of sexual improprieties for decades, is striking a sour note with some people on social media. Others, however, seem perfectly fine with the idea. City of Houston officials, on whose property FPSF is scheduled to take place June 6 and 7, have thus far kept mum on the situation.

Kelly is billed second on this year's FPSF lineup, below only Skrillex and above Weezer, Steve Angello, St. Vincent, Mastodon, Belle & Sebastian and the Decemberists. Perhaps the people in charge are banking on fans' enthusiasm for the festival's other performers outweighing their disdain of the Chicago-based singer responsible for hit songs like "Your Body's Callin'," "Ignition (Remix)" and "I Believe I Can Fly." Omar Afra, co-founder of FPSF, declined comment until the outcome of a meeting Monday evening, where he was planning to discuss the matter with a group of "old friends and buddies."

"All I can say until we meet with these guys and know if they're even asking for anything, is that we're meeting with them tonight and we're glad to hear them out," Afra said. "We've always been available to the community to discuss any concerns, and we still are now."

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Bad Ass Weekend 1: Third Installment Lives Up to Name

Categories: Current Events

Photo by David Sackllah
Virginia's Deceased put quite a few of the younger acts at Bad Ass Weekend to shame.
For the third year in a row, Houston's Bad Ass Weekend, a three-day festival focusing on all different types of metal and punk music, lived up to its name. The last couple of days leading up to the festival were filled with a few last minute band cancellations due to weather and unfortunate run-ins with law enforcement, but nothing enough to derail the festival.

Organized by founders JC Newton and Jaron Sayers, BAW was spread across Fitzgerald's, Walters, Mango's, Rudyard's and Black Barbie. In the week leading up to the festival, the founders warned people on Facebook to arrive early to the smaller venues because they would fill up, but the weekend turned out to be more successful than anticipated as Fitzgerald's ended up selling out on Saturday night.

The weekend started off focusing on punk, with Fitzgerald's hosting a wide array of hardcore and crust-punk bands. Government Issue, the influential '80s D.C. band playing a handful of one-off reunion shows, led the hardcore acts upstairs. They sounded good, but their age showed in singer John Stabb's "dad" jokes and more than a few false starts to songs. While they did a good job, the younger local acts stole the show.

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The 12 Most Exciting Acts at Bad Ass Weekend III

Categories: Current Events

Photo by Groovehouse
Headliners Napalm Death at House of Blues in 2013
Written by David Sackllah and Nathan Smith

A date that has been blacked out on the calendars of Houston's gnarliest music fans has finally arrived: Bad Ass Weekend III is here at last. Assembling quite a collection of the baddest-ass and most brutal acts from the local and international punk, metal and grindcore scenes, this homegrown festival is primed and ready to mosh the living daylights out of crowds stretching from Fitzgerald's to Walter's to Mango's and Rudyard's over the next three nights, and if you aren't planning on attending, it's only proper that you take off that patch-covered battle jacket and turn it in to the proper authorities. You're officially mainstream.

There are so many bands playing across multiple stages this weekend (don't forget the afterparties!) that no human being, no matter how drug-crazed, could possibly see them all. Even if it were possible, it damn sure wouldn't be healthy. In order that you might put together a respectable plan of action, however, your buds at Rocks Off have put together this handy list of highlights to make sure that you don't miss out on the most exciting stuff.

Whatever flavor of auditory violence you're into, there's a little something to satisfy the bloodlust in everyone on this list. It's going to get wild, so go ahead and accept that now. Just remember, above all else, to tip your bartender and to bring your own glue, 'cause we ain't sharing.

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Dress Code Helps Expand Houston Hardcore Scene

Categories: Current Events

Photo by David Sackllah
The men of Dress Code (L-R): Drummer Carson Wilcox; guitarist Esteban Rubio; vocalist Brandon Mahler; guitarist Jacob Duarte and bassist Daniel Ortuno.
While Houston has always maintained a steady roster of hardcore and punk bands to be proud of, there has undoubtedly been a resurgence in the past couple years. The scene now boasts a growing scene of young, interconnected hardcore acts, which have been working to foster a tight community of diverse yet like-minded individuals. On the forefront of that has been Dress Code, an energetic and abrasive young band of five who started playing together in early 2013 and released their swift but brutal demo on cassette this past fall on Schizoid Unit Records.

The self-titled demo contains five songs of heavy, powerful hardcore that hits like a brick to the face. Energetic, forceful and meaningful, the release is one of the stronger to come out of Houston in the past year. Birthed out of the Houston hardcore scene, the songs are about issues going on within it. On standout "I Disagree," the song ends with vocalist Brandon Mahler shouting, "We don't have to get along."

"I feel like with hardcore there a lot of things that separate it," Mahler says. "I feel like we should have unity but it's not going to be there all the time. There are people in hardcore you're not going to agree with. We don't have to get along. You can just be here and it can be cool. Everyone has different issues and things they're trying to get away from."

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Does Anybody Care About the Super Bowl Halftime Show Anymore?

Categories: Current Events

Photo by bikephotomusic/Flickr Commons
When it comes to Katy Perry, you're hot and you're cold
The short answer to the headline directing readers to the next several paragraphs is: it depends.

Isn't that the truest answer to any query about a thing and whether it is relevant? Is Led Zeppelin still an influential rock and roll band in 2015? To some, albeit a shrinking demographic, the answer is yes. Is Paul McCartney as important to modern music as Kanye West? We all recall your opinions on that one.

If you don't enjoy football, music, fireworks (100 percent certain you'll get those during the halftime show), the generally agreed upon hotness of Katy Perry and Lenny Kravitz, or things that are ridiculously spectacular, the answer is "No, this does not matter." A follow-up question might ask what went so wrong in your life that you can't find the joy in even one of these awesome things, but to each his or her own.

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Houston Record Convention Returns to Bull Vinyl Market

Categories: Current Events

Photos Courtesy of David Ritz
Crate-diggers from all over the area will converge on the Hilton Houston Southwest this weekend.
At this point, the struggles that the record industry have been facing are well documented. Physical album sales are on the decline, and overall album sales fell 9% in 2014. Even digital album sales decreased at a similar rate over the course of last year, due in most part to the rise of streaming services like Spotify.

But olne area where album sales have been increasing is vinyl, where sales increased by 52 percent in 2014 to more than 3 million records sold. While it's nowhere near the volume that sales were back in the pre-CD era of the '70s, it represents a steady and robust growth area in an industry in decline.

Record collectors in Houston have a wealth of great stores to pick from, from larger shops like Cactus Music to smaller, more specialized ones like Vinal Edge Records and Sound Exchange. This Sunday offers another chance for local vinyl enthusiasts to get their fix. The Houston Record Convention, which is put on by Dave Ritz six times a year, will put on its first show of 2014 at the Hilton Houston Southwest.

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