In Defense of Ace Frehley's New Solo Album

Categories: Listen Up!

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Entertainment One Music
Spaceman cometh.
The drugs and booze sure did a number on Ace Frehley's face, I remember thinking as I was watching him play alongside the Roots during a recent airing of the Tonight Show.

See, I was a KISS fan growing up, and don't think there's any shame in that. (For the record, I'm younger than 40.) Frehley was the on-again/off-again lead guitarist of the group. When I became a KISS fan, for a brief moment in my childhood anyway, it wasn't because I was into their music. I was into the theater of it all: the face paint, the blood and smoke, the characters, that movie, and especially the tin lunch boxes. It was all terrible and fun at the same time.


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Maybe It's Time to Retire the Term "Boy Band"

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Photos by Jack Gorman (unless indicated)
The real stars of last Friday's One Direction concert
One week ago today, tens of thousands of Houston's biggest One Direction fans -- most of them accompanied by their parents -- flocked to the gates of NRG Stadium, toting signs, glow sticks, and homemade T-shirts. It was strange to realize that only 13 years ago, I was on my way to watch 'NSYNC perform on their PopOdyssey Tour at the Astrodome, now run down and dwarfed by its newer neighbor.

What was even more surreal, however, was realizing that though the Dome is a monster, its capacity would have never been large enough to house the crowds hoping to catch a glimpse of the world's biggest act on their current tour. Then or now, it's not likely that any other band would have been able to pull the same size crowd.

Then again, a lot has changed for pop music in the last decade.


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The Supertramp Mystique Extends to Instrumental Records, Too

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Photos courtesy of Glass Onyon PR
Carl Verheyen rocks out!
Singer/guitarist Carl Verheyen probably hasn't ever needed to file for unemployment with the musicians union. After a couple of decades as a sought-after studio axeman, he launched a solo career more than ten albums deep, teaches music at the university level, and has authored instructional books and DVDs.

Oh, and he also has been a permanent member of Supertramp ("The Logical Song," "Goodbye Stranger," "Give a Little Bit") since 1996. But for his most recent effort, last year's Mustang Run (Cranktone), he offered up an almost all-instrumental guitar record, which attracts a much different audience than a standard rock one with vocals.

"I believe that the state of the art of the so-called guitar record is not about shredding and blazing down the fingerboard," he offers while on a studio break from producing (yet another gig of his). "It's more about texture and sonic tapestries that you put together with different sounds. That's where I was coming from with this. I didn't want a 'chops' record. I wanted a melodic record."


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Always a Fighter, Bilal Learns to Let It Flow

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Photos courtesy of eOne Records
Smooth or sharp, Bilal delivers the goods.
It hasn't been an easy ride to international stardom for vocalist and composer Bilal Sayeed Oliver, who performs simply as Bilal. The Philly native, who roomed for a while with jazz pianist and Houston native Robert Glasper, almost quit the business when his second album was rejected by Interscope and then leaked to the Internet, where it has now racked up half a million downloads.

It was quite a setback for an artist who broke onto the scene with his 2001 album 1st Born Second and its smash single "Soul Sista," which soared to No. 18 on Billboard's R&B/Hip-Hop charts and established Bilal as an artist to be reckoned with. But after a period of introspection during which he worked with Glasper, Erykah Badu, Beyonce, Jay Z and the Roots, the multi-talented artist bounced back with 2010's Airtight's Revenge.


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The Best Concerts in Houston This Week: August Alsina, Better Than Ezra, KISS, etc.

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Photo by H. Matthews/Def Jam
August Alsina
Warehouse Live, August 29

This show has already sold out, so time to hit up the "secondary market." But August Alsina is that hot, no thanks to rumors that he's now dating Nicki Minaj. She's definitely a fan of the New Orleans-bred singer's "No Love" single, because she appears on the now-viral remix. That's nothing new for Alsina, 21 years old and part of the YouTube generation of artists whose record deals are a direct result of their homemade videos; or at least the number of views those videos have accrued.

After two well-received volumes of his The Product mixtape, Alsina is now on the Def Jam roster and in April released his full-length LP, Testimony, leading with his hit duet with rapper Trinidad James, "I Luv This Shit."

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

Categories: Best of Houston

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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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The Rocks Off 200: Handsomebeast, Silver Jeans Starchildren

Welcome to The Rocks Off 200, 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 previous entries in the Rocks Off 100 at this link.

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Photos courtesy of Handsomebeast
Who? Handsomebeast, who have been kicking around Houston venues like Notsuoh full-time since 2013, strike us as one of the most likely bands in town to describe themselves as a "collective." As heard on their album Estilo Gacho (stream it here via Bandcamp), theirs is a sound created by serious musos whose principal purpose is to get people to move; the music made by these self-admitted "space-rock bump-n-grinders" has the side effect of sounding like it's coming from a lot more people than there actually are. But at the moment the band is made up of only four human beings, who by their own admission are tapped into some pretty universal shit.

"We strive to make music that can cause ripples of emotion in the brains of fellow humans," an HB spokesman explains by email. "Being our strongest and most meaningful connection to the universe and its natural mystic power, music influences our lives in such a way that we produce our own sounds and collection of frequencies for others to hear and experience. We like to share."

Whoa...pass some of that over here, please. Currently Handsomebeast is a finalist in the "Battle of the Bands" contest sponsored by the Silver Jeans Co. and FADER magazine, competing for a chance to win a trip to New York to record a demo and 500 "vinyls" of said demo that will be sold in Silver Jeans stores nationwide, plus a writeup in FADER. Voting ends Friday night, and due to some kind of glitch earlier this week, HB is running second behind some L.A. outfit. Won't you help 'em out by voting here?


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UPDATED: The 10 Biggest Rock Stars Who Live in Texas

Categories: Texas Me

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Carved Management
Note: this article has been amended to remove Ministry's Al Jourgensen, who announced that he moved to Los Angeles in July.

By Chris Gray and Matthew Keever


TEXAS HIPPIE COALITION (Honorable Mention)
Some of our more genteel readers may be wondering who the hell Texas Hippie Coalition even is, not to mention how they landed on a list that purports to (informally) rank the Lone Star State's biggest rock stars. (Note: if not for recent romantic fluctuations, Kelly Clarkson and Robert Plant would have come in at Nos. 4 and 1, respectively.) But THC -- mind those initials -- has amassed quite a following without drawing much mainstream media attention; they have twice as many Facebook fans as the Old 97's, for example.

The Sherman-based badasses recently wrapped a stint on the Rockstar Energy Drink Mayhem tour and are looking ahead to their fourth full-length album, Ride On, in October. Loudly glorifying the outlaw lifestyle in haymaking songs like "Pissed Off and Mad About It" and "Clenched Fist," these hippies ain't the band to come running to for a little peace and love. Those songs come from an album called Pride of Texas (their 2008 debut), if you're looking for a better idea where their heads are at.


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Minute Maid Park Hosting Huge "House Party" in November

Categories: Texas Me

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Photo by Chris Gray
The Eli Young Band presses the flesh with a few fans.
Lately it seems like a week can't go by without another music festival being announced in Houston. This one makes a little more sense than some of those others, though.

Clad in matching custom Astros jerseys, Texas country heartthrobs the Eli Young Band stopped by the picturesque lobby of Minute Maid Park Wednesday evening to shake a few hands announce their plans to bring the "House Party" mini-festival, also featuring the Josh Abbott Band, Thomas Rhett and Cody Johnson, to the former Ballpark at Union Station on Saturday, November 15.

The band also performed a brief micro-set of their hits "Even If It Breaks Your Heart," "Dust" and "Crazy Girl," but not after the four members had met every last one of the several dozen of fans -- mostly young women -- who had won a spot on the guest list through Houston country stations 93Q and 100.3 The Bull. (For what it's worth, the Bull winners were a little louder.) One of the first to make it inside sat at a table near the stage and excitedly told her companion, "shit just got real."


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I'm Ashamed to Put a Picture on Facebook. Help!

Welcome to Ask Willie D, Rocks Off's advice column where the Geto Boys MC answers reader questions about matters, in his own words, "funny, serious or unpredictable." Something on your mind? Ask Willie D!

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Photo by Mario Jaramillo
ARE MY IN-LAWS STILL MY IN-LAWS AFTER DIVORCE?

Dear Willie D:

I divorced my wife last year and now have custody of my three girls. Neither the girls nor I have seen their mother in over eight months. She's out living her life with her new man. The other day my oldest daughter, who is 11, asked me could she go to visit her mother's sister for the weekend. Her aunt has always treated her extra-nice, but she's the same aunt who told my ex-wife that she should leave me because I was no good.

I told my daughter no, because I no longer want my kids to be associated with my ex's side of the family. She started crying and I felt bad, but I just don't think it's a good idea to have my children around people who don't like me. Do you think I'm wrong?


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