The Essential Houston Punk Starter Kit

Photo courtesy of Jay Francis
Legonaire's Disease front man Jerry Anomie once dispelled rumors that he had died by staging a "funeral" in a Houston record store.
Top 10 lists are notoriously blunt instruments to sift through musical history, so Rocks Off crowdsourced this piece to provide a sense of Houston's indie and punk heritage from the ground up. The input below is not meant as a declarative end-all but as a conversation in action.

Sure, exemplary singles from the likes of the Hates, Spunk and Truth Decay are AWOL, but the list does shed light on more obscure vintage and contemporary bands that usually fall through the cracks. Plus, some may argue the semantics of what constitutes a 'single,' but sometimes a little leeway helps stir discussions and memories.

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The 10 Best Concerts In Houston This Weekend: Molotov, Lee Fields, Andrew WK, etc.

Photo courtesy of Secret Service PR
Mexico City sure shot: Molotov
Scout Bar, December 19

Taking their admiration for Public Enemy, Beastie Boys and Rage Against the Machine south of the border, Molotov makes party-friendly rock en espanol with a pointed message. The Mexico City quartet has won four Latin Grammys since debuting with 1997's ¿Dónde Jugarán las Niñas?, which translates as "Where will the girls play?" and whose answer is "Why, at a Molotov concert, of course."

Released this summer, their latest LP Agua Maldita nods at the Red Hot Chili Peppers and features a guest rap by Run-DMC co-founder Darryl McDaniels. Houston rock en espanol homies Espantapajaros and La Sien open.

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

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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My Disabled Wife Won't Put Out. Help!

Welcome to Ask Willie D, Rocks Off's advice column where the Geto Boys MC answers reader questions about matters, in his own words, "funny, serious or unpredictable." Something on your mind? Ask Willie D!

Photo by Mario Jaramillo

Dear Willie D:

I made the colossal mistake of befriending a girl that I met on Facebook. She was a friend of a friend so we just started following each other and liking one another's updates. After knowing her for less than a week she asked if I wanted to meet up at a popular bar for happy hour. Even though I thought it was too soon to be hanging out with someone I didn't really know, considering we both were females and in the same circle, I threw caution to the wind and met up with her anyway.

She arrived at the bar before I did and had already ordered appetizers, which was fine by me because I was hungry. As I took my seat at the bar the waiter asked me what I wanted to drink and she suggested, or shall I say ordered the same thing she was drinking for me. Now I'm thinking to myself, "control freak."

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Nice Knowing You, Mango's

Photo by Chris Gray
This sign is part of the new mural at Mango's completed last month.
One of Montrose's most distinctive and colorful live-music venues is not long for this world, signaled by the "for lease" sign that appeared on the side of Mango's earlier this week. For close to a decade, the building has welcomed local bands from across the musical spectrum, who learned to begrudgingly tolerate the club's difficult parking situation and sometimes unusable bathrooms. But after talk began circulating on the Internet, Tuesday afternoon the owner confirmed that he has decided to step away.

"I've been doing this for four or five years, and I've been trying to find a way to find something else to do," says Eduardo Lopez, adding that he owns several other businesses and wants to spend more time with his two young children. "I've got quite a bit on my plate, and I don't want to kill myself and wind up paying bills in the hospital from working too many hours in the music business until 3 o'clock in the morning."

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Tanner Garza's Creation in the Here and Now

Photos courtesy of Tanner Garza
Tanner Garza says he's been making improvisational music since age 21.
From a city that is never silent to a sound that resembles the sky above its soaring scrapers, Tanner Garza's heartfelt experiments are imperfectly painted portraits of here and now. A place that seems far away, yet too close.

Mention the phrase "experimental music" to the amateur connoisseur and one of two visceral reactions occur. Facial features cluster together forming freshly exposed wrinkles or question marked expressions lead to shrugged shoulders. Either it is synonymous with unlistenable nonsense like one artist throwing a piece of lunch meat against the wall while another artist records it, or it is met with the question: "Is this even music?"

For Tanner Garza, experimental music is none of the above. He describes it as "building the house with your own blueprints and by your own rules." His music creates wordless internal dialogue -- communicating feelings robbed by misspoke words and prattle. Constructing a house built on the heart of his carefully crafted blueprint, his sound transcends any vulgar definition.

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The Five Best Concerts In Houston This Week: Fleetwood Mac, Cheap Trick, Lotus Effect, etc.

Photo courtesy of Live Nation
Fleetwood Mac hasn't toured with their Rumors-era lineup since the Clinton administration.
Fleetwood Mac
Toyota Center, December 15

Fleetwood Mac will be playing a very special show in Houston on Monday night, because it will be Christine McVie first performance with the group here since at least the '90s. For many younger fans, this is their first opportunity to see the band's full classic lineup performing together. And those younger fans? Well, there's a lot of them -- maybe more than ever. Against all odds, Fleetwood Mac has gone from a classic-rock band relegated to bargain bins to a thriving, still-relevant enterprise.

Monday night's show will be a celebration of that fact; and Monday morning (10 a.m.) tickets go on sale for their return on the second leg of the "On With the Show" tour, scheduled for March 3 at the very same arena. COREY DEITERMAN

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Houston's 10 Best Singer-Songwriter Stages

Photo by Jay Lee
Neil Young at Jones Hall in 2010
Definitely one of the fanciest places on our list with its wall-to-wall red carpeting and fine wine bar, Jones Hall is the permanent home of the Houston Symphony Orchestra and the Houston Society for the Performing Arts, as well as a venue for popular contemporary musicians and other artists. Some have criticized the theater as being dated, but the seats have been comfortable and the room has sounded great when we have visited.

Jones may not be a place that up-and-coming performers get a chance to play, but it can be a good place to catch some big names; Neil Young stopped by during his 2010 solo tour with the late Bert Jansch opening, as did Young's friend and sometimes musical collaborator Eddie Vedder of Pearl Jam for a 2012 solo show. Currently the venue has several Christmas programs scheduled, but Sarah McLachlan does drop by on March 1.

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Spectral Manifest's Wraith-Metal Will Haunt Your Dreams

We're a little terrified right now.
I have a soft spot in my heart for wraith-metal, because it always feels like I'm listening to someone else having a nightmare in a language I don't understand. It has a kind of throbbing madness that makes it a bit bloodier than other metal forms, and Houston's own Spectral Manifest has produced a pretty awesome collection of tunes on their new self-titled LP.

Spectral Manifest has been a long time coming. I remember discussing the song "Fate of the Disgraced" with drummer Cryptos Granamyr Grimm two years ago. At that time I was looking to answers about why someone would bother writing lyrics no sane person could readily understand amid animal growls, and there's no doubt vocalist Depravis Nocturna is a king bear when it comes to primal roars.

I sort of get it now. You're not really supposed to latch onto these lyrics; that's like riding a seat belt on a motorcycle -- a safety measure that completely misses the point. Instead, the voice become an instrument of brutality, leaving you forced to interpret the meaning the way people used to do with classical music. Something like Stravinsky's Rite of Spring doesn't need to say anything to unnerve people, and neither does Spectral Manifest.

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The 10 Best Concerts in Houston This Weekend: Old 97's, Opeth, Ian Moore, etc.

Photo by Jason Wolter
Old 97's singer Rhett Miller at Fitzgerald's in May 2014
Old 97's
Fitzgerald's, December 12

Releasing one of 2014's best albums, in this case the nostril-flaring Most Messed Up, would be enough for about 99 percent of bands, but not the Old 97's. The DFW alt-country stalwarts have decided to take a brief victory lap to salute the 20th anniversary of debut Hitchhike to Rhome as well.

Boasting a couple of early classics in "If My Heart Was a Car" and "Stoned," as well as their untouchable version of Merle Haggard's "Mama Tried," Rhome introduced the quartet as a brash, potent group that wasn't above the occasional goof like "Ken's Polka Thing." It also got them signed to respected roots label Bloodshot Records; Wreck Your Life would follow in '95, and the '97's were off and running. With Deathray Davies.

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