Otenki Vox German Alexander's Top 5 Desert Island Discs

Categories: Local Motion

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Photo by German Alexander
Here on Rocks Off, we ask local heroes for their top five absolute desert island discs, the records that made them the musicians they are today. This week; German Alexander, vocalist for Otenki.

Thrice, Vheissu
You can't just ask a musician to pick inspirational music. It's like asking a mom to tell you who her favorite kid is. She has a favorite, secretly wants to slap one of them, but she's never going to tell you which. Music is like that. Sometimes we want to keep those secrets to ourselves because some of them are our dirty little secrets but here goes.

Thrice inspires me to be a bit more aggressive with the music I write with my band.
I love mean guitar riffs. Thrice definitely has that mixed in with some really tough sounding vocals.

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Mikey and the Drags Come Roaring Out of the Garage

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Photo by Mars Valera
Mikey and the Drags are: Austin Sepulvado (organ), Chris Oddo (bass), Andrew Lee (drums), and Mikey Drag (vocals/guitar)

A couple of months ago at downtown's Discovery Green, Mikey Drag sat behind a merchandise table near the big lawn.

This was after his band, Mikey and the Drags, had played a blistering set of garage rock as part of a Thursday night concert series to listeners whose mode of personal transportation ran the gamut from baby strollers to Medicaid-issued walkers.

Among the offerings spread out for sale were the usual suspects of CDs and T-shirts, but also copies of the band's 2013 EP, On the Loose!, in...cassette.

Cassette? Vinyl may have made a huge comeback, and Sony just introduced a new version of the Walkman. But how many music fans are clamoring for the return of a media format that can be munched up by a tiny roller or recorded over? Actually, more than you think.

"Yeah, it's something that we had to think about doing, but we were surprised to find out that a lot of bands are doing [new] cassettes today. And they sell!" Drag offers with a laugh. "Plus, they're really cheap to make!"

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Their Name Was Treason Vox Jeremy Kilgores's Top Five Desert Island Discs

Categories: Local Motion

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Photo by Rhonda Meredith
Here on Rocks Off, we ask local heroes for their top five absolute desert island discs, the records that made them the musicians they are today. This week; Jeremy Kilgore, vocalist and guitar player for Their Name Was Treason.

Nirvana, Nevermind
The five albums that influenced me the most would have to begin with Nirvana's Nevermind. The first time I heard "Smells Like Teen Spirit" I fell in love with music. I had never heard anything like it, and it was the first time I had an opinion of my own about music. I knew from that moment that music would be apart of my life.

Pearl Jam, Ten
Second on my list would have to be Pearl Jam's Ten. I first heard Pearl Jam shortly after becoming addicted to Nirvana and I became hooked. The angst and the energy the band had mixed with Eddie Vedder's vocals showed me how soulful someone could be about being pissed off. I could relate to that.

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Dear #Texans: Please Let Kam Franklin Sing the National Anthem

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Photo by Mark C. Austin/Courtesy of the Convoy Group
Kam Franklin warms up at a Houston Rockets game...could NRG Stadium be next?
In accord with the time-honored tradition, before every Houston Texans football contest at NRG Stadium, someone is trotted onto the field to perform the national anthem.

In a nod to fans, something the hometown football team truly excels at, it is "auditioning" talent to perform the song before the team's December 28 home game. It's part of a contest the Texans have done previously, inviting fans to load their video auditions to the team's Facebook or Twitter accounts and use the hashtag #TexansFanthem.

When that game arrives, it'll be a merciless beatdown of the Jacksonville Jaguars. And, my hopes are that sweet victory will be preceded by a stirring rendition of the anthem performed by Kam Franklin of The Suffers.


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PuraPharm Vox Tessa Kole's Top Five Desert Island Discs

Categories: Local Motion

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Photo courtesy of PuraPharm
PuraPharm's new EP will be released in February.
Here on Rocks Off, we ask local heroes for their top five absolute desert island discs, the records that made them the musicians they are today. This week; Tessa Kole, vocalist and guitarist of one of our Houston Press Artopia 2015 performers, PuraPharm.


Prince, Sign O' the Times
Anyone who knew me in junior high and high school knew how big of an influence Prince was to me! Good God, that man could put out an album and no two songs on it would even remotely sound alike.This is the main thing I always admired about Prince the most; other than the fact that nobody could even touch him when it came to his unique style of writing, his team of musicians, sound, and incredible work ethic. On Sign O' the Times, though, I really feel that he reached an especially genius level of his craft. It was pretty unbelievable.

My favorite song on the whole double album is "It's Gonna Be a Beautiful Night." What an explosion of horns, drums, and voice! Honestly I didn't realize the full potential of this song until I saw the Sign O' the Times movie. The dance sequences, the horn section, the stage and set design...WOW, just wow. The level of energy all those musicians had was off the charts.


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Retro Musicians Still Make Houston Swing

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Photos by Lynn Lane
Photo courtesy of Bart Maloney
Bart Maloney has a steely gaze to go with his steel guitar.
Louis Armstrong once said, "The memory of things gone is important to a jazz musician. Things like old folks singing in the moonlight in the back yard on a hot night or something said long ago."

Bittersweet in its achy nostalgia, the saying is quite fitting for some of Houston's retro musicians. On vintage instruments, these players resurrect the memory of music long gone, bringing new life to the words of Etta James or Bob Wills, paying homage to the old swing and jazz greats.


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Doomstress Alexis's Top 5 Desert Island Discs

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Photo by Helene McCarron
Project Armageddon anchors the third annual "Doomsgiving" at Rudyard's on Saturday.
Happy Thanksgiving, everybody! Today we're starting a new column on Rocks Off, where we ask local heroes for their top five absolute desert island discs, the records that made them the musicians they are today. This week; Doomstress Alexis, vocalist and bassist of Project Armageddon.

Iron Maiden, Live After Death
While this isn't a studio album, it is a live collection of five great albums Iron Maiden put out and it captured such energy from their show and from the audience. Steve Harris' bass playing and Bruce Dickinson's vocals are probably the two biggest influences on me musically, both as a singer and a bassist, as well as being a performer onstage.

This was also my introduction into heavy metal around the time I was five or six years old listening to all my older brother's records, so those early years probably have had the biggest impact on me. I also liked that they could write a short, three-minute, single-worthy song or a 14-minute epic and they would play them both live. This album just has it all.

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Six Types of People You Might Meet at a Guitar Store

Categories: Local Motion

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Photo by H. Michael Karshis
Fact: all American guitars made before 1968 are magical, and were blessed by wizards. Paying $25,000 for one makes total sense when viewed in that light.
Any guitar player will occasionally venture into a guitar shop or musical-supply store that specializes in guitars. They can be wonderlands to anyone who likes to play guitar and wants to see firsthand what kind of gear is available. Like a comic-book store is a playground for comic fans, a guitar shop is a similar experience for guitar players.

But these paradises of gear-lust are also weird environments with their own social order and rules of conduct. There are also quite a few characters you're likely to encounter if you spend much time there. Some of them are fun people to be around, and others will make you wonder if they have a secret doll-themed torture room in their homes. Proceed carefully.


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Gabe Bravo Drums Up a Comedy Career

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Photo courtesy of Gabe Bravo
Gabe Bravo, asking you to please check the drummer jokes at the door.
A funny thing happened to Gabe Bravo on the way to a successful career in music: He found out he was funny.

More precisely, others are finding out Bravo is funny. The well-known and highly regarded Houston musician is notably an outstanding drummer known for his time in acts such as Shotgun Funeral and The Trimms. But since early 2013, Bravo has traded his place at the back of the band for front-and-center as a stand-up comic.


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A Few Things Local Bands Should Know About Opening for National Acts

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Photo by Clever Cupcakes via Flickr
As close as a typical opening band might get to meeting KISS.
Your band has been playing shows for a while, and seems to be getting popular. Perhaps you're still just rising stars on the hometown circuit or have hit the road a few times to try your luck at touring. Eventually, the day comes when you get a dream gig opening up for a big national act -- a band with a certain amount of fame and success that you've always looked up to, or at least respected.

Does this gig mean Death Hippie has finally made it and superstardom is around the corner? Can you and your bass player finally quit your jobs cleaning up "accidents" at the porno theater where you both work? Will you at least make industry connections and become friends with your rock and roll heroes after your band opens for them?

Probably not. But as with most things involving the music biz, you'll probably learn some lessons along the way. I certainly did.


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