2015 Dawns With a Din of New Year's Noize

Photos by Stephan Wyatt
This way lies one of the most unique New Year's Eve celebrations in the nation.
Somewhere in the cosmic afterlife, John Cage is grinning from ear to ear. The pure celebration of music coupled with welcoming a new year clashed at Super Happy Fun Land, on a floor sparsely covered in green and purple balloons and small children indiscriminately tossing silver confetti in the air. There was no other place on the planet saying goodbye to a year riddled with both extreme joy and strife this way.

If time is a vacuum, then Super Happy Fun Land is proof positive of that theory. For several hours I was gratefully trapped in a raucous theater of splendid noise, embraced by people amused by simple yet outrageous experiments in sound, an experience that integrated the audience, friends, family and, yes, small children riding around on a pink Big Wheel before performing music onstage with their mother.

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Pachanga Tour w/ Los Rakas & Bomba Estereo at Warehouse Live, 9/12/2014

Photos by Marco Torres
Pachanga Tour
Feat. Bomba Estéreo, Los Rakas, Bombón Houston
Warehouse Live
September 12, 2014

"Maaannn.... We've got a million stories!" proclaimed Raka Rich as we chilled in the Los Rakas green room at Warehouse Live last Friday night. Stories about meeting fellow Panameño musician El General at the "white people gym" back in Panama, how Scarface and Devin the Dude are their favorite Houston-based rappers, and how a bird mysteriously fell from the sky during the video shoot for their just released remix of Wiz Khalifa's "We Dem Boyz."

Within the last few years, Rich and his cousin Raka Dun have elevated themselves to the top of the Latin charts with their energetic and light-hearted mix of hip-hop, reggaeton and other Latino-Caribbean sounds. Their name is derived from the Panamanian slang "Rakataka," which means "hood rat" or "ghetto." By reclaiming the term and wearing it proudly, they provide hope to everyone who hears their hip-shaking and motivational tracks.

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Sofar Houston Feat. The Suffers, 8/23/2013

photos by Marco Torres

Sofar Houston (Songs From A Room)
The Suffers, The Caldwell, Arthur Yoria
Secret Location
August 23, 2013

The premise is intriguing and creative: hold an exclusive, invitation only concert in a non-traditional venue (like a living room), without charging a cover at the door, specify BYOB, and accept donations for each band after their individual performance. Oh, and the only "rule" asks you to refrain from talking during each band's set.

Sounds like heaven, amirite?!

According to the organizers, Songs From A Room (Sofar) began in London sometime in 2011. Incarnations of the concert series occur around the world, with Houston having hosted eight previous editions, Friday night being the ninth. The series is entirely volunteer driven, from promotion to production.

The excitement lies in the delivery. The bands are never announced beforehand, so every night is a mystery. Three bands play along, including two short opening sets and a longer headlining set. The bands play their best stuff in order to win new fans, all in the name of great music.

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The Rocks Off 100: Richard Ramirez, Noise God and Black Leather Jesus

Welcome to the Rocks Off 100, our portrait gallery of the most compelling profiles and personalities in the far-flung Houston music community -- a lot more than just musicians, but of course they're in there too. See the entire Rocks Off 100 at this link.

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Photos courtesy of Richard Ramirez
Who? Richard Ramirez is one of Houston's finest noise artists under the monikers of Black Leather Jesus https://www.facebook.com/pages/Black-Leather-Jesus/117719674921150, Werewolf Jerusalem, An Innocent Young Throat-Cutter, and many more. His work is dark, terrifying, and full of the sort of sounds that you'd expect to emanate from beyond the doors of Hell itself. He got started in the late '80s after listening to experimental music broadcasts on KPFT and KTRU, then haunting Sound Exchange and Vinal Edge for albums by Merzbow, The Haters, Nurse With Wound, and the like.

Ramirez just returned from a tour that took him all up the West Coast of the United States and Canada, and is planning for a European jaunt next year. In addition, he has an upcoming collaboration with Blue Sabbath Black Cheer scheduled for a vinyl release soon, as well as works with Smegma, Nihilist Assault Group, and Andrew Liles.

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Local Musicians Come Together For Charalambides' Tom Carter

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Courtesy of Nameless Sound
Tom Carter with Charalambides in 2003
Rewind: Charalambides Guitarist Tom Carter On the Mend

Some local musicians are rallying to help out one of their own this weekend, and it appears that some good, weird tunes will be a happy side effect for the rest of us.

Tom Carter, guitarist for long-running H-town expatriate avant-gardists Charalambides, fell seriously ill while on tour in Germany earlier this summer, and his recovery has been difficult. A pneumonia-like infection turned septic and spread to the musician's heart, prompting doctors to place him in a drug-induced coma.

Carter ultimately spent 40 days in intensive care in Berlin, and the long-term cardiac complications that resulted remain rather grave. I caught up with him via email this week for an update on his health:

"After the hospital, I entered a three-week physical therapy program to regain enough physical strength to fly back to New York City, which is where I am now," Carter says. "I am much stronger than I was when I entered therapy, but my heart is still far from fully functional. Thus, my abilities to travel, work and perform basic household tasks are limited."

Carter lost his job due to the long hospital stay, and although he has health insurance, it's still unclear how much of his hospital bills it will cover. Luckily, Carter has a lot of friends, and many are springing into action to help.

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Rockabilly Filly Rosie Flores Slings a Working Girl's Guitar

Rosie Flores, known these days affectionately by many as the Rockabilly Filly, has had several careers: Punk rocker, cowpunk alt-country badass, potential country star, rock and roller, and rockabilly queen. Born in San Antonio, she spent her teen years in San Diego before striking out to find a career as a performer, writer, and guitar player.

Over the last four decades, the Bloodshot recording artist has released 14 albums and is set to release her fifteenth, Working Girl's Guitar, in the next few months. As a producer, she has just finished an album on legendary early rock and roll singer Janis Martin, known as "The Female Elvis."

Flores' trio will be rocking the Continental Club Friday night. Rocks Off caught up with her at her home in Austin.

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Father Sean Horrigan Set to Rock Leon's Lounge Tonight

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photo courtesy of Sean Horrigan
The Celebrity DJ" Fridays at Leon's Lounge take a turn from the secular to the sacred tonight when Father Sean Horrigan, pastor at Christ the Redeemer Church, commands the turntables.

Horrigan, whom we ran into last Saturday night at the Wagoneers show at McGonigel's Mucky Duck, was the music editor at the Daily Cougar at University of Houston during his Eighties college years and says his set will be primarily an '80s revue.

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Roman Showers Throw Up Their Stomach Contents

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Several weeks into June, there's no escaping summer: the sweltering season's here in all its flickering-horizon, bathed-in-sweat glory -- filthy, glaring, suffocating. Which makes this the perfect time for psychopathic burr-stuck noise blurts like Roman Showers' Show Me Your Stomach Contents.

The joke, of course, isn't so much that Roman Showers are ordering listeners to puke on command so that they can examine our collective evening repast; it's more that they'd like to examine that steak tartar as we're actually digesting it.

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Friday Night Noise: A Loud Farewell With Merzbow, Richard Ramirez and Kylie Minoise

[Ed. Note: Rocks Off would like to thank Ray Cummings for abusing our eardrums with all this delicious noise these past few months. He has decided to move on to other things and we wish him well.]


Merzbow & Richard Ramirez, "Nails as an Enema, Pt. 2"

Back in late 1994, the respective kings of Japanese and Houston noise met in unholy collaborative congress; The Science of Dissecting Society (Praxis Dr. Bearmann) was the outcome. Unlike a lot of noise-world team-ups - and there have been a lot of them; too many, really - Society doesn't shortchange the listener by diluting what's unique about each performer: simply, Merzbow remixes Ramirez's bolts of raw, poisoned silk, and the result sounds exactly like what one would expect, in the best possible sense.

You would expect pulsating torrents of scabbed-over fury, wouldn't you? With buried screams? And it wouldn't come as a surprise that ol' Merz, like, superimposed a bunch of tracks over a bunch of different tracks, and that listening to the two halves of this LP is a lot like being whooshed and propelled through a black hole for almost 40 minutes... would it? Given how prolific these two were and continue to be, it's easy to overlook their many and sundry artifacts. Don't you dare sleep on this one.

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Friday Night Noise: The 10 Best Noise Records of the 2000s


Here are Friday Night Noise's favorite ten 00s noise albums, in no particular order. Was this an easy list to make? Fuck no.

1. Various Artists, Women Take Back The Noise (UBUIBI) Roughly 10,000 noise compilations were issued in the 00s, but how many came with a noise-making device? How many came packaged in a clear plastic case (pink, blue, purple, or orange) with b&w bio cards? How many were wide-ranging, three-disc sets of woman-generated subterranian internationalized awesomeness?

2. Lightning Bolt, Wonderful Rainbow (Load)

A strident statement of noise-rock purpose as enraged and ear-damaging as it is coherent - and the reason that Lightning Bolt are the only noise band your square friends have heard of aside from maybe Wolf Eyes.

3. The Dead C., Future Artists (Ba Da Bing)

For the 1,500th time, hey're not a fucking noise band, you whine. But FNN would argue that these uncomproming new Zealand experimentalists switched sides for this album, forgoing Michael Morley's slovenly vocals to concentrate on unusually cryptic, extended-play sonics capable of transporting listeners to nightmare countries that can't be found on existing maps.

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