All the World's a Stage for Gogol Bordello

Categories: Listen Up!

Photo courtesy of Red Light Management
For Gogol Bordello, every day is Halloween.

Leading up to Friday's Halloween-night performance at Warehouse Live, front man Eugene Hütz says that his band of misfits doesn't have anything specifically spooky planned, but that it would be out of character for them to bring anything less than their very best.

"We're kind of a band that never developed a routine," he says. "Anything celebratory, we're kind of a natural fit for it."

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Get to Know Houston's Unified Underground

Photo by Bryant Murgas/Marisa Guerra Hendrick
Unified Underground in their office, definitely not posing for this photo
You don't need to turn over rocks to find musical gems in Houston. They sparkle across our landscape and reflect their brilliance back upon us.

But if you insist on mining for diamonds in the rough, Juan Olivo and his friends want to help you on your treasure hunt.

Olivo is founder and editor-in-chief of Unified Underground, an upstart magazine/Web site/initiative that plans to spotlight the Bayou City's unheralded creatives. The project formed in April, after a discussion about seeking out and interviewing Houston's stealth street artists.

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Hitching a Ride With Screaming Females

Photo by Christopher Patrick Ernst
Screaming Females
Screaming Females' drummer Jarrett Dougherty said the band has played Houston a few times before, but is still looking for that one knockout performance here as headliners.

Those who know one of rock's most exciting groups may find that hard to believe. Dougherty and bassist King Mike are a solid one-two combination, setting up the haymaker that is guitarist and front woman Marissa Paternoster. It's difficult to fathom they haven't rope-a-doped locals with their punishing live act, but they'll get another chance by stepping into the ring as the main event tonight at Walters.

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Girl in a Coma Grrrls Get Even Fiercer With Fea

Categories: Listen Up!

Photos courtesy of Fea
Martinez, foreground, and Diaz, Lee and Alva , L-R, are Fea
Phanie Diaz doesn't want you Girl watchers to worry.

She's the drummer for one of Texas' biggest breakout bands of the past few years, Girl In a Coma. Her sister, Nina, is the band's guitarist and vocalist. While Nina works on a solo project, Phanie and the band's bassist, Jenn Alva, have unveiled Fea, their own side group that touches down at Mango's Saturday night as part of a month-long tour.

A mixed audience of Pearl Lounge regulars and curious Girl In a Coma fans got a glimpse of Fea this past summer. Once the music started, it was obvious these weren't the indie melodies the flagship band is known for.

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Be Very Afraid of Illegal Wiretaps' 80th Release

Categories: Listen Up!

Courtesy of Illegal Wiretaps/Facebook
The Illegal Wiretaps are bar-none my favorite band in Houston because they are nuts. Completely left their cakes out in the rain. Less than two months since their last EP they're back with a new freakshow in the form of Cancer and the Princess Suite.

Technically, it's a single because it's only one song. On the other hand, it's nearly 12 minutes long, making it longer than several of the Wiretaps' previous multi-song releases. See? Everything they do is freakin' backwards anyway.

Cancer is another outing by Stephen Wyatt on his own, and that usually leads to the most personal if harder to understand work. Certainly this is a parade of strangeness is aimed at something internally, but what that is is beyond me.

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Afro-Cuban Beats Power Medeski & Friends' Juice

Photo by Stuart Levine
The "Juice" Boys: Billy Martin, John Medeski, John Scofield, and Chris Wood

As fans of the jazz/funk trio Medeski Martin & Wood know, the band likes to improvise, a big reason why they're also a hit on the jam-band circuit. But dancing on the edge of a musical cliff isn't always as effortless as it may look, according to drummer Billy Martin.

"It could be a gut-wrenching experience!", he says. "It's all about the chemistry of the [players]. And when you're really into it, you don't know how it's going. There have been moments where I thought it really sucked."

And I may have thought it went terribly wrong, but then find out that the other guys or some of the audience may think it's the best thing ever!", he adds. "So who knows..."

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Skeleton Dick Helps Robot Bunny Save the World

Categories: Listen Up!

On The Level Games, the Houston-based software developers behind the golf/hack-and-slash game Curse of Nordic Cove have a brand-new game out on Steam called Boo Bunny Plague. It's the timeless tale of a robotic bunny rabbit searching for Thor while singing songs and beating things to death with a guitar. You know, a story we've all heard before.

I haven't had a chance to dig into Boo Bunny Plague yet, but On the Level did send along the soundtrack to the game, and it's a winner all on its own. Not since the cast recording of Bat Boy: the Musical has a collection of narrative tunes been so wrong and oh so right at the same time.

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Keeton Coffman EP Comes Face to Face With a Ghost

Categories: Listen Up!

Photo courtesy of Mania Management
The 71's was literally the first band I ever covered professionally, and I've always been impressed by the energy and passion of front man Keeton Coffman. He's equal parts indie pretty-boy with a soul and punk-rock attitude. But what's he like away from his band?

The Ghost is six tremendous songs that offer a completely new sound for Coffman. Impeccably produced by Jay Snider, it has a really deep sound that was often missing from 71's albums. Nothing to do with the music, you understand, it's just that its fast-paced nature lends itself to a flatter tone.

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In Defense of Ace Frehley's New Solo Album

Categories: Listen Up!

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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Bands: Texas Is Good Enough for Your Limited Tour

Alien8 Recordings
This article isn't a gripe about the local music scene, which has actually been looking up for a while now, nor is it even about Houston specifically. Instead, it's about all those wonderful reunion tours that continue to pop up, only to avoid certain areas of the United States entirely.

A few weeks ago, my hopes were ignited when I read a headline about the Unicorns reuniting. In that instant, I wanted to do any and everything it took to catch at least one of the dates on their tour.

First, if the Unicorns' name doesn't sound familiar, their music probably would. For anyone who has ever been to a concert at Walters, it's highly likely you've heard the Montreal trio being played as the house music between sets. Additionally, Nick Thorburn went on to form Mister Heavenly with Man Man's Honus Honus and Arrested Development's Michael Cera, as well as Islands with Unicorns bandmate Jamie Thompson; at least the latter will be at Walters Downtown on Sept. 6.

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