Sound Revolution Comes Full Circle With New Tomball Store

Photos courtesy of Alicia Schultz/Sound Revolution
The inventory at Sound Revolution's new Tomball store; note Record Store Day signs prominently displayed
Earlier today we mentioned that the Houston area has a staggering 16 music retailers that will celebrate Record Store Day tomorrow, but we'd also like to single out two that go by the same name. Sound Revolution's F.M. 1960 location near Bush Intercontinental Airport has been around since 1976, long enough to resemble the shop the character Hyde worked for under Tommy Chong and later owned in That '70s Show. The other is Houston's newest record store, opening March 1 in Tomball's Lakewood Shopping Center.

"You never know when you start something out as a kid how much you're gonna like it," reflects owner Alicia Schultz, who says that she can remember a time when there was a record store every two miles or so. "It's been a long road, a lot of ups and downs in the music business, but it never really goes away."

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Record Store Day's Rising Tide Has No End in Sight

Record Store Day returns to the nation's music retailers tomorrow, so if you're the sort of person who only buys a handful of LPs or CDs a year -- assuming you still buy physical music product at all -- you may want to hold off until sometime next week. In just six short years, this unofficial holiday of sorts has achieved a significance among the music-loving public somewhere between Christmas and Flag Day, probably much closer to the former. As a cultural phenomenon, it's definitely reached critical mass.

This year Warner Bros. Records sent out an email to the media, saying (in part), "we feel that's it's our civic duty to remind you of what Warner Bros. Records has literally in-store for you." (Ouch.) That would be the raison d'etre of Record Store Day, the carefully curated limited-edition releases parceled out a few at a time to the approximately 1,000 participating retailers, which most commonly take on the form of deluxe 180-gram vinyl prizes like a 5-LP LCD Soundsystem Live at Madison Square Garden set or a blue-colored pressing of Jay Z and Linkin Park's 2004 Collision Course collaboration. But it could also be a My Chemical Romance "coffin" T-Shirt, for the fortunate few lucky enough to score one.

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Five Things Bands Should Consider Before Reuniting

Categories: Music Bidness

Mock-Up of the "Reunion Record" I posted for April Fool's Day
After reading my colleague Corey Deiterman's musing on why there doesn't need to be a new Wu-Tang Clan album, I got to thinking about what it's like to try and rekindle something with a group of fellow musicians with whom you previously made magic.

I got a first-hand look at this last year when for a very brief time it looked like the Black Math Experiment might return to active music-making. After we went on indefinite hiatus, which is what you call a breakup where nobody punches anybody, five years ago I'd been more or less content to let sleeping dogs lie and concentrate on writing and occasional audio outings with the Ghost of Cliff Burton. I did miss the experience, though, and when the call came for my former act to hole up in a house with instruments and try to give it another shot, I was down to try.

In doing so I learned a few things, which I present to you if you happen to be thinking of trying something similar. They apply whether you're a giant, world famous rap-group or just a few local guys who want to relive their garage days.

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Justin Melkmann's Punk-Rock Comics: Life Irritates Art

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Art by Justin Melkmann/Courtesy of Melkmann Comics
This is a story about the sometimes roundabout ways we encounter new music. It's also about expectations: why we make them and how we adapt, often for the better, when they aren't fully realized. I'll start there.

TMI alert: I like to read in the restroom. I planned to spend a few minutes "reading" one morning, so I grabbed a 'zine one of the kids brought home from a show and was flipping through the pages when I came across some well-drawn, music-related and genuinely funny cartoon art. The artist's name was Justin Melkmann.

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A Few Other Recent Oscar-Worthy Music Films

Eat it, Putin.
On film's biggest night this past Sunday, music nudged onto Oscar's center stage and stole the show. Jared Leto's incredibly moving Best Supporting Actor acceptance speech was a beautiful way to start the night. Music-video directing legend Spike Jonze won the Best Original Screenplay award. Karen O and Ezra Koenig sounded fantastic and looked like the cover of a White Stripes album while singing their nominated duet from Her. Pharrell wore his hat. Bono was Bono.

John Travolta professed his love for musicals, then butchered the name of one of Broadway's biggest stars. Bette Midler's voice turned back time to remind us why we loved "Wind Beneath My Wings" before it became a maudlin funeral dirge.

The Lady In Number 6: Music Saved My Life, won for Best Documentary Short. Moments later, the very deserving 20 Feet From Stardom took home the Best Documentary Feature.

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Is "Indie" a Bogus Concept in 2014?

Categories: Music Bidness

Photo by Amanda Rhoades/Flickr Commons
Indie, or not Indie? That is the question
Recently Joe Steinhardt took a moment to ponder the year that had just passed, and didn't like what he saw.

Steinhardt runs one of my favorite music labels, Don Giovanni Records. His New Jersey-based outfit was built, as he tells it, to promote the music his friends made. His label is now blessed with loads of talent, from sweet-voiced singer-songwriter Laura Stevenson -- who will be at Fitzgerald's next month with Against Me! and Cheap Girls -- to the weirdly wonderful Jeffrey Lewis. Anyone who has read even a few of my bits knows I'm enamored of Screaming Females, one of the label's bands and arguably its best-known.

Despite that upside, Steinhardt was concerned. He felt 2013 was the year that independent music "broke," and expressed his worries in a polarizing blog for I decided to ask him about it and got a couple of other independent labels, including Houston's own Artificial Head Records, to weigh in on his thoughts.

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What to Expect Your First Year as a New Band

Photo by Alex Ramos
Vanilla Sugar, year one survivors
Somewhere, some kid unwrapped his or her first guitar this Christmas. And, maybe he or she found a few other kids who also received instruments -- or at least Guitar Center gift cards -- and have decided to form a band.

It's an exciting time. You come together, bonded by the notion of changing the world with your unified creative vision. That, plus you get to choose a cool band name and talk about the type of groupies you hope you'll attract.

But what happens next? Settling on "CthuLou Dobbs" -- I'd love to see that band logo, btw -- and blurting out you prefer brunettes with blue eyes takes all of five minutes. What's the rest of your first year as a band going to look like?

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Toyota Center Preps for a December to Remember

Photo by Marco Torres
Kanye West's Toyota Center half of Watch the Throne, December 2011
For a venue celebrating its tenth year of operation, Toyota Center may have never experienced such high-caliber occupancy as it will this month.

In late autumn, the murmurs from inside the venue's marketing department could be heard all the way across the street at the George R. Brown Convention Center. While the Rockets were finalizing the smiling "H-TOWN" visage of center Dwight Howard and guard James Harden that now greets fans, two more names were added to the arena's winter concert schedule.

Jay Z. Kanye West.

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Do Gig-Finder Web Sites Really Work? Local Musicians Sound Off

Photo by Nx Doyle/Courtesy of Rhonda Roberts Music
Rhonda Roberts
If you've been lucky enough to catch Rhonda Roberts in concert, you heard a confident voice singing original, Beatles-inspired indie-pop. She spices things up with a little Tin Pan Alley while masterfully plucking away at ukulele.

And, if you have seen her in concert, there's a chance you saw her because she booked the gig using ReverbNation.

ReverbNation is just one of the Web sites today's independent musicians use to promote their work; others include Sonicbids, GigMasters and BandWagon. All offer various services, but a major component is connecting musicians with promoters to book shows.

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10 Texas Acts We Totally Want to Smell Like

"We kissed a girl, and we liked it."
Last week, pop goddess Katy Perry unveiled her brand-new perfume, Killer Queen -- a fruity, intoxicating scent named after some old Beatles song or something. The fragrance's official Web site claims it features top notes of dark plum, wild berries and bergamot with subtle hints of cashmeron, natural patchouli heart and liquid praline.

Liquid praline? Yes, correct: liquid fucking praline. If you've been dying to smell like the checkout counter of a small-town Mexican restaurant, go out and buy yourself a bottle of Killer Queen right away. And hey, there's no need to stop there! This is Katy's third official fragrance. Not too sure what the others smell like, but if I had to guess? Latex, baby powder and hairspray. And flowers! Sort of like a bouquet of roses arranged on the sink of the men's bathroom at Numbers.

Picking on Katy Perry and her burgeoning perfume empire sure is fun (and easy!), but she's hardly a trendsetter in the industry. A quick perusal of the fragrance aisle at Walgreen's turns up dozens of musician-inspired scents. And hey, that's awesome -- who wouldn't want to dab a bit of Christina Aguilera or Justin Bieber behind their ears? The only troubling thing is that there's a dearth of fragrances inspired by the icons of Texas music. That needs to change.

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