Five Brand-New Houston Acts on Bandcamp Worth Hearing

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Anywhere from 250 to 1,000 new songs, mixes, EPs and albums are uploaded to Bandcamp every day. Investigate the tag "Houston" on the site alone, and the numbers are likewise staggering.

With so many musicians from Hustletown attempting to plant their flag in the 713, discerning good from bad becomes increasingly difficult. In the past, listeners too often relied on corporate imprinting, music journalism and word of mouth to declare a band worthy of 30 to 60 minutes of our lives. But today we no longer have to rely on limited resources and self-professed experts to choose what to listen to.

Here is this month's batch of (almost) random selections from Houston artists on the verge of emerging from Bandcamp's virtual black hole.


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A Few of the Best Hip-hop Emojis Ever Created

Categories: Digitalia

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Screen Caption Hi-Art app
If the Ghostface Killah emoji pack doesn't express your inner most thoughts, then something's wrong with you.

So how is your emoji game?

Everyone knows about the evolution of emojis, those symbols of our thoughts that reveal what's in our souls by way of email, text messages and social media conversations. They've gone from punctuation smiley faces :-) (Known as smiley's or emoticons) to a graphic pieces of steaming (or smiling) excrement.

According to the website Emojipedia.org which tracks new emoji characters, there are 722 standardized emoji characters in use right now across Apple, Windows and Android platforms. And there are plenty more on the way.

As New York Magazine reported in November the world of emoji is growing, and adding more confusing ways for us to communicate. Call it a death of words if you will, but most of us get the message.

"These new emoji range from obviously useful ones like Cloud With Rain and Dark Sunglasses to questionably useful ones like Reversed Hand With Middle Finger Extended to frankly bizarre ones like Man in Business Suit Levitating ."

But how many of the new crop of emojis are music-related?

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8 Songs Inspired by Castlevania

Categories: Digitalia

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Super Castlevania IV
There aren't a lot of games that can hold up their musical legacy like Castlevania can. It's easily in the top five of series that were able to produce memorable soundtracks. The fun thing is that as people who were kids playing the games have grown up they've taken those songs with them into careers as musicians. So today we're going to look at sons that wouldn't have existed without Castlevania

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Meet George West: Bang Bangz Drummer Plays First Solo Show

Categories: Digitalia

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Photo by Marcelo QuiƱones
Vik Montemayor is best known as the solid and smooth drummer for Bang Bangz, Houston's increasingly popular ethereal electronica act. Earlier this year, though, Montemayor began branching out with a solo act called George West, and tomorrow night will be the first chance Houstonians will have to see him in this capacity.

"It's just going to be a cool warehouse party," says Montemayor. "It'll be cold, so the music will be a good match for that. Trip-hoppy and downtempo."

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Local Musicians Unimpressed by Stars' Outcry Over Streaming

Categories: Digitalia

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Photo courtesy of Nick Greer
If rock stars are upset with streaming-based systems of music delivery, says Houston's Nick Greer, "let them sell one of their houses."
In the September issue of Esquire, Gene Simmons declared that rock and roll was dead, slayed by file sharing and an entitled public ear. Then, in October, Iggy Pop criticized U2 for setting a standard that music should be free, not to mention forcing its latest release onto unsuspecting iPhone owners. And just last week, Taylor Swift removed almost her entire catalog of music from Spotify, only four months after penning an opinion piece for The Wall Street Journal in which she stated that "piracy, file-sharing and streaming have shrunk the numbers of paid album sales drastically."

Most end-users would agree that file-sharing is the future, but the transition hasn't been as smooth for the artists who are trying to make a living. During the John Peel lecture at the Radio Festival, even the godfather of punk Iggy Pop admitted that he'd be bartending in between performances if he had to live off the proceeds from his record sales.

Local funk man Nick Greer, however, thinks that it's out with the old and in with the new. The only people he has heard complaining about file-sharing are the artists who had careers before file sharing existed.


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Angel Olsen at Fitzgerald's, 11/5/2014

Categories: Digitalia

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Photos by Ivan Guzman
Angel Olsen, Lionlimb
Fitzgerald's
November 5, 2014

Angel Olsen has a gaze so piercing that watching her even from far away makes you feel like you are being stared down by a friend, a lover, and an enemy all at the same time. Watching her perform, and I mean really watching her, can almost feel like you are looking way down into the depths of her soul.

If you were to listen to her debut full-length Half Way Home or her 2014 effort Burn Your Fire For No Witness alone in your room at night with headphones on, you're sure to get the same chilling feeling. The Missouri-based singer songwriter's defining trait is the ability to apply her hushed, fragile voice on top of any background music she pleases and still make the deep, longing emotion in her voice the thing that stands out.


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The Rise and Fall (and Rise) of Booty In Music, Part 2

Categories: Digitalia

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Photo by Eva Rinaldi via Flickr
The other side of Nicki Minaj, c. 2012
Despite what many people may think, Nicki Minaj has proven to be an ultra-feminist many times before, but with "Anaconda" she is really making it clear. "Anaconda" is clearly a parody, both satirizing and disproving the hyper-sexualization of women's bodies in hip-hop.

Although it only samples one line from the song, Nicki is actually reclaiming the whole underlying theme of Sir Mix-a-Lot's "Baby Got Back" by flipping it around into the female perspective and taking charge of her own sexuality rather than giving the power to the man, which is the way it was in the original song and has been in rap music for years.


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The Rise and Fall (and Rise) of Booty In Music

Categories: Digitalia

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Photo by Ryan via Flickr
"Little in the middle, but she got much back." That's how Sir Mix-a-Lot described his ideal woman more than two decades ago in his classic 1992 booty-jiggling, body-gyrating anthem "Baby Got Back." Essentially, the song served as a catalyst to get those hesitant high-school seniors on the dance floor at prom. There's something about that "I like big butts and I cannot lie" lyric that gives listeners a sense of obligation to get up and embrace every last bit of its novelty and ridiculousness.

There's a sort of "Cha Cha Slide"/"Cupid Shuffle"-esque appeal to the song, and you know exactly what I'm talking about.


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Requiem for the iPod

Categories: All In, Digitalia

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Apple.com
Yes, they're still around -- what an iPod looks like today.
The year was 2002, and I was in the back of my mom's Chevy high-top. She was driving my brother to Sam's Club to pick up his new blue iPod 1st Generation. For months, I watched him listen to Papa Roach and moody pop-rock queen Avril Lavigne as he sat in his bedroom lifting his 8-pound dumbbells -- that is, until I got my own iPod a couple years later. Gwen Stefani, Outkast, Hoobastank, it was all on that little thing. And quite frankly, it was all I would ever need. IVAN GUZMAN


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Lily Allen at House of Blues, 9/13/2014

Categories: Digitalia

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Photos by Jack Gorman
Lily Allen
House of Blues
September 13, 2014

During the span of her decade-long career, Lily Allen has managed to attract consistent press attention for her outspoken, disparaging remarks towards pop-music heavyweights, and when she dropped new album Sheezus earlier this year, that bodacious attitude came right along with it in full force.

On the album, and as she performed to a sold-out crowd Saturday night at the House of Blues, Allen constantly references the major pop music girls, especially those within the ranks of Miley and Katy Perry. Just take her stage set-up, for example; the HOB stage was lined with giant baby bottles that lit up with bright LEDs, a cartoonish spectacle that follows the trend set by Miley Cyrus in a number of her live performances.


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