Girl in a Coma Grrrls Get Even Fiercer With Fea

Categories: Listen Up!

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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!

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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

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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!

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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

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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

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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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Bands: Texas Is Good Enough for Your Limited Tour

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Alien8 Recordings
Unicorns
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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Craig Kinsey Studies Hard on American Roots and Machines

Categories: Listen Up!

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Photo courtesy of Zenhill Records
I don't really feel that it's right to criticize Craig Kinsey's American Roots and Machines as an album. It doesn't really feel like one aside from the fact that it is a CD that goes round and plays music. Instead, Kinsey has gone to great lengths to build a stage in your mind, and the record plays more like a film for the ears.

One of the keenest sentiments expressed on the album comes from "I'm Not Part of a Scene." It's a raging, hard rockabilly rant against norms and genres and his refusal to be a part of either. Honestly it's a bit juvenile, though eloquently expressed, and also completely sincere. Never let it be said that Kinsey is afraid to dance outside of his comfort zone.

Song styles on Machines run from pure Southern gospel to straight blues and even into the occasional rock piece. Kinsey even pulls out aspects of opera on the brief but fun "Puccini's Drunk Again," which frankly scans closer to Kurt Weill to these ears. But that might actually be the joke, and maybe I'm too thick to get it.


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Illegal Wiretaps Back Off the Deep End on 79th Release (!)

Categories: Listen Up!

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Photo courtesy of Illegal WIretaps
I forget it sometimes, but The Illegal Wiretaps are really one of Houston's most prolific acts. Their Bandcamp page has, no kidding, 79 different releases, and the brand-new Scintillating Scumbag is the third this year alone. Sure, most of them are short EPs, but even with just four songs or so per record that's still a catalog of more than 200 songs.

It's really time for us as a city to take a good hard look at this electronic nuttiness that's being peddled by Stephen Wyatt and Anthony June, who seems to have sat this album out. They really are our own version of the Legendary Pink Dots, and every time I recover from their last album and walk back into the insanity it's another life-altering experience.

Scumbag picks up fast, hard and harsh with the title track; as far as Illegal Wiretaps songs go, it's as close to typical as such an indescribable band's can be, but they really up the ante in the next song. "Jeering," while losing none of that crackling pain, brings out a more melodic, almost gothic vocal styling that calls to mind something like Gary Numan at his most soothing.


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Hearts of Animals' Mutation Poses a Beautiful Puzzle

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One of my favorite things about reviewing music in Houston is that you don't just appreciate or criticize the music the city produces. You solve it like a video-game puzzle...if you're lucky. How can someone really stand up and try to do a conventional review of a P.L.X.T.X. album? That's not dancing about architecture, it's more like trying to describe the beauty of a butterfly to a blind water snake by putting it in one of Jigsaw's traps.

Case in point: Mlee Marie Mains and her wild band, of which she is sometimes the only member, Hearts of Animals. The woman is brilliant, and so is the music on her latest album, Another Mutation.


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