Walking an Awesome Mile With Nathan Quick

Categories: Listen Up!

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ReverbNation
Nathan Quick at the 2012 HPMA Showcase
The last time I had heard of Nathan Quick it was a passing notice that he'd captured the 2012 Houston Press Music Award for best singer-songwriter. I always meant to check out his stuff, but life got in the way. Now I regret it because if his latest six-song album is any indication, Quick is a true Houston musical treasure.

The Mile feels like so many different artists at once that it's hard to nail down a real comparison. You can hear touches of everyone from Tom Petty and Nick Cave to Blitzen Trapper and even brushes of local acts like Folk Family Revival. He's a jangling, poetic sort of dude who dances a fine line between aspirational lyrical brilliance and pure, pop-driven love-and-loss tunes.


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Warpaint's Stella Mozgawa: "Every Song Is From Its Own Universe"

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Photo by Mia Kirby/Courtesy of Beggars USA
It's been a few years since Warpaint mesmerized Houstonians in a live setting -- nearly three years to the day, in fact. But the group is finally set to return to Houston.

Tomorrow night, the quartet of Emily Kokal, Theresa Wayman, Jenny Lee Lindberg and Stella Mozgawa will headline upstairs at Fitzgerald's in support of their sophomore LP, Warpaint. The album, featuring singles "Love is to Die" and "Disco//very," was written, recorded and produced over a span of four years with the help of producer Flood (Depeche Mode, PJ Harvey) and mixing on select tracks by Nigel Godrich (Beck, Radiohead). Warpaint represents the most accurate reflection of the group's talents thus far, and although they've been touring heavily since its release in January, Rocks Off was lucky enough to catch some one-on-one time with drummer Stella Mozgawa in between the group's two Coachella performances.


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Die Young Never Stray From Their Chosen Path

Categories: Listen Up!

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Photo courtesy of Die Young
Die Young heats up Iceland, late 2000s
Less than a year after one of Houston's best hardcore bands was resurrected upon front man Daniel Albaugh's return from Philadelphia, Die Young is back with an EP that is short on running time but very long on a peculiar brand of confessional, compelling metalcore. Chosen Path is all you would expect on the surface, with Albaugh's throaty screams over the pounding pulse of Wendel Lopez's avalanche drums, but breaking down the release into its emotional canon reveals a lot about the man Albaugh has become.

True to its title, Chosen Path lays out a journey of self-discovery and the regret of rage. Die Young's 2009 breakup was precipitated by the exhaustion exacted by their grueling tour schedule, as well as the band's protracted legal problems with bannings and their name. Albaugh and his mates had grown bitter, and felt that they needed to step away. Eventually the singer fled Houston in search of a new start, but managed to find some interest still here in his hometown to return.


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A Formal Introduction to Fishgutzzz and the Other Goddamn Gallows

Categories: Listen Up!

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Photos courtesy of The Goddamn Gallows
The Goddamn Gallows
The Goddamn Gallows knows you, Houston. But, they don't really know you.

They would be pleased to truly make your acquaintance. If the feeling is mutual, they invite you to come fraternize while they throw down their own brand of "gutterbilly" punk rock Thursday night at Walters.

"Well, we have never had a lot of luck in Houston 'til lately," says Fishgutzzz, the band's bassist and vocalist. "I think we have only played three different venues, about a dozen shows, and never really played to many people except when we played the House of Blues the last time we came through.


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The 25 Best Songs We Heard Last Month

Categories: Listen Up!

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Augustines, "Kid You're On Your Own"
The Brooklyn trio's whole album Augustines is fantastic, like War-era U2 with bonus folk inflections. I can tell it's going to be one where I have a different favorite track every couple of weeks; right now it's "Kid You're On Your Own." JOHN SEABORN GRAY


Aloe Blacc, "The Man"
Is this the greatest song ever? No. Do I even remotely care? No. This is the kind of song you listen to in the car with the windows down on a sunny day, riding the breeze with your hand. It's easy, and sometimes easy is good. SELENA DIERINGER

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10 Songs We'd Like to Hear at Astros Games This Season

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Photo by Keith Allison/Flickr Commons
Go get 'em, guys...

Last year's Houston Astros were beyond bad, the second-worst season ever by a franchise n Major League Baseball's recorded history. That should give you this blog's frame of reference, which will be long on hope and short on snark. If you want to read a bunch of shitty comments about how bad the team was or may be this season, head over to Deadspin.

I'm a homer when it comes to my sports teams. I've been an Astros fan since Bob Watson and Doug "The Red Rooster" Rader played the corners. We used to sit in the centerfield seats so Mom could amuse Cesar Cedeno by speaking to him in Spanish between pitches. She got him to converse a few times while dad would be guzzling down some Dome Foam and teaching us how to log the game on the scorecard.

So, yeah, this devotion runs deep. I wish the squad well and hope their progress this season will be acknowledged by possibly hearing the following songs at Minute Maid Park in 2014:

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The Natural: Laura Stevenson Returns to Houston

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Laura Stevenson
Listening to a Laura Stevenson song conjures up words like "natural" and "organic," which may seem at odds with someone so strongly associated with punk music. Still, it came as little surprise when she talked dogs, donkeys, squirrels and other beautiful natural creatures in advance of her show Sunday evening at Fitzgerald's.

Stevenson will share the bill with tourmates Against Me! and Cheap Girls, as well as local openers Dead To The World. The tour is a whirlwind of sorts, nearly two dozen dates over a month's time before she heads to Europe for a spring solo swing. By this time next month, the Long Island-based singer-songwriter will be immersed in a series of UK shows, with France, Germany, Belgium and Switzerland waiting in the wings.

But, first, she'll spend a little time here with us.


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Five Great Musical Duos-In-Waiting

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Last month at Starbucks, waiting on my Grande Pike, I spied on the sales counter a curious item. It was a CD featuring duets by the dude from Green Day and Norah Jones.

"Weird combo," I thought, took my coffee and went on with my day.

Then, maybe a week later, Phil Everly passed away and the bossman wrote a damn fine bit about him and his brother, Don, best known to music fans as The Everly Brothers. There was the CD cover again in the piece and that's how I learned these two teamed up to cover the Everlys' Songs Our Daddy Taught Us, with the loving title Foreverly.


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Six Ways to Enjoy a Concert More

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flattop341 via Flickr
At least someone in this audience is pissed off at the person next to them.
As a fairly extroverted person who is hyper in general and also suffers from a crippling caffeine addiction, I'm constantly going out and doing things, especially things that involve large crowds and performance. Translation: I go to a lot of concerts and live shows. This is a passion that some of my more introverted friends don't quite get.

I understand where they're coming from. To an introverted person, the atmosphere of a live show can be absolutely dreadful. You've either got people trampling over you having a good time themselves, or you don't really know how to take in such an environment without just wanting to go home and be alone for a while.

There are things that we can all do to help with this. I came up with some advice for both those who want to have a better time at concerts but don't know how, and some advice for those people who trample on others' good times. While the latter could probably be boiled down to "don't be an asshole," where would the fun be in that? So here's six ways you can have fun at a concert that will benefit you no matter what camp you fall into.

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The Concrete Wonders of BLSHS's Abstract Desires

Categories: Listen Up!

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Ever since I stumbled across BLSHS trying to find subjects for my defunct band-name origin column -- you can only hear "we were high LOL" so many times before you give up on something -- I have been utterly entranced with them. Even at a time when Houston is delivering amazing esoteric electronic acts, Rick Carruth, Michelle Miears and Chris Gore stand out. Now they finally have something digital to show for it with debut EP Abstract Desires.

Ethereal beauty has always been BLHS's trademark, and here it is embodied as best it probably ever will be. How can you catch a dream? I don't know, but the six songs manage to do it with a haunting grip.

The thrust of the trio's appeal has always been edged with Miears' incredible voice. "Angelic" is a term I think I've thrown around before, and it's none the worse for wear for being used again. The quality of her vocal cords might just be a trick of genetics.


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