Nick Greer Previews Soul-Baring New LP Heart on Fire

Photos by Marco Torres
Nick Greer (center) and his biggest fans, sister Jessica Greer (left) and mom Tina Greer
By 7:30 p.m. Monday night, the parking lot of Wire Road Studios was already full. Two men were standing outside, helping latecomers find parking nearby. Inside, a few dozen people congregated in the kitchen, mixing drinks and chatting among themselves. Out back, a larger crowd had gathered around a few coolers, a pot of crayfish and a grill.

Standing behind the grill, flipping chicken breasts and sausage links, was Nick Greer, the man of the evening, smiling ear to ear. He happily greeted friends and fans as they arrived, bumping elbows while he wiped his hands with a rag.

After a little over an hour of mingling, eating and drinking, attendees were ushered inside, where Greer played a short video before the listening party began. In it, he spoke of the efforts put into making the record. Despite how catchy and accessible every song sounded, Greer spoke of pain and anger being two of the primary emotions rooted in Heart on Fire, the sophomore album from Nick Greer & the G's.

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Houston Celebrates Record Store Day In Grand Style

Photos by Jim Bricker
Record Store Day fans waiting to get into Cactus Music
Frustrated. Nervous. Tired. Anxious. Wired. Those are pretty much the only words to describe the numerous Record Store Day lines throughout town Saturday. Nope, tax day was four days prior so these lines were certainly not at your local H&R Block. These were the emotions of a quickly growing group of collectors lining up around town at their favorite record stores.

Record Store Day is the equivalent to a vinyl lovers' Christmas. For hours and hours, people line up outside of their favorite record store in anticipation of getting one or several of a limited release of specialty records made for just the day.

Towards the front of the lines people had no worries about not getting a specific record, but they had earned their carefree ability with an unprecedented time of sitting and waiting, but as the lines grew the hope for those at the back of them started to diminish. And for good reason. If you're 50 people back in line, and your record store has only three copies of a specific album, then most likely you're not going to get it. If you're 500 people back, you're definitely not going to get it.

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The Six Best Concerts In Houston This Week: Manchester Orchestra, HAIM, Warpaint, etc.

Photo courtesy of Big Hassle Media
Manchester Orchestra
House of Blues, April 21

Three weeks after the release of their fourth studio album, Atlanta's Manchester Orchestra will bring their unique blend of indie, alternative and heartfelt rock and roll back to Houston. The band's last record, 2011's Simple Math, was wide-ranging in its sound, but vocalist Andy Hull says this year's Cope, will be "brutal and pounding you over the head on every track." Shake it out then. MATTHEW KEEVER

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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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Y'all Come to Neon Boots, Where the Two-Steppin' Is (Usually) Easy

Photos by Angelica Leicht
"Excuse me, ma'am. Would you like to dance?"

We've only just stepped foot in the bar, but have already been invited onto the dance floor a few times. Our two left feet are hesitant to oblige.

"Come on," she coaxes. "She'll hold your drink, I'm sure."

Nancy, the woman standing over us at Neon Boots Dancehall and Saloon (11410 Hempstead Hwy.), grins as we explain our two-step difficulties. She just laughs as she leads us out onto the floor, as we silently hope she knows what she's in for. Our nickname is most assuredly not "Grace."

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Top 10 Bars in Clear Lake/NASA

As our sister blog Eating... Our Words does, from time to time Rocks Off will be giving your our picks for the top taverns in various Houston-area neighborhoods. Of course, the lines can be porous, but here anything with a TABC license that cannot reasonably be considered either a restaurant, coffeehouse or live-music venue is fair game.

At first glance, there's not much to see at Allegria Wine Bar. It's tucked away into a little shopping center off Highway 3, and seems like your typical wine bar. Luckily, a dark, ambient spot with an ample selection and a knowledgeable staff. The owner can often be found hanging out with the patrons, giving suggestions to the novices, and chatting about everything from the weather to various wine regions.

And even if you're staunchly anti-grape, you'll be welcome to hang out at this cozy little place. Allegria specializes in not only wines but also martinis, and boy, do they have a selection of both. But their signature martini, the Allegria 365, is our favorite, if you must steer clear of the vino. Although that would just be absurd.

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The 10 Best Concerts in Houston This Weekend: Devin the Dude, Glass the Sky, Die Young, etc.

Photo by Marco Torres
Devin the Dude
Warehouse Live, April 18

To say Devin the Dude is Houston rap's Yoda would seem like a slight to the Dude. Now in his mid-forties, he almost seems timeless, still rolling through copious amounts of weed while letting his inner thoughts bellow out in between tokes. His voice has never reached more than a lovable croak, switching between romantic anecdotes, a lovable car that seemingly won't get him to point B from point A ("Lacville '79"), or down-and-out blues ("Stray").

That has been Devin's motif for the better part of two decades; he's Houston's most relatable everyman rapper who seemingly can't get a handle on love nearly as well as he can get a handle on a blunt -- or seven. One For the Road, his eighth studio effort released last fall, seems like the most mature Devin Copeland on wax to date. BRANDO

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The Rocks Off 200: Punk-Rock "Newcomers" Screech of Death

Welcome to The Rocks Off 200, our portrait gallery of the most compelling profiles and personalities in the far-flung Houston music community -- a lot more than just musicians, but of course they're in there too. See the original Rocks Off 100 at this link.

Photos courtesy of J.R. Delgado/Screech of Death
Screech of Death (L-R): J.R. Delgado, Lisafer, Arthur Hayes
Who? The annual Sk8 & Rock concert series at Fourth Ward's Lee & Joe Jamail Skate Park circles some of the biggest red-letter days on Houston's punk-rock calendar. For five years now, local bands have cranked out their rowdiest tunes while skaters from all over -- a number that can reach into the hundreds -- practice their craft at a facility that "reinvented vertical pipe-ramp skateboarding," as one of the event's organizers, Barry Blumenthal, told Rocks Off last year.

Dedicated to late Devo guitarist/keyboardist Bob Casale, the series' 2014 season begins this Saturday, and playing one of their first shows (alongside Austin's Biscuit Bombs and Houston vets Talk Sick Brats) will be the righteously named Screech of Death, a relatively new "midtempo old-school punk" combination of two Texas punk warriors and one L.A. import. The Californian is Lisafer, Screech of Death's lead singer and bassist, whose impressive rap sheet includes hitches with storied goth-punks 45 Grave, D.I., Nina Hagen and most recently Snapper, which also featured Rikk Agnew of the Adolescents.

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The Five Best Concerts in Houston This Week: Anvil, Dick Dale, YG, etc.

Debonair Lounge
Cafe 4212, April 14

Since approximately Labor Day 2013, the only way to get each week off on a good foot has been at this Museum District oasis of cool. Debonair Lounge has already welcomed a who's who of Houston's hottest young hip-hop and R&B performers -- this week features Jonathas, Silvanus LaToison, Nadia and, as always, "Pan Fried" DJ Motai and that smooth-ass Debonair house band -- strutting their stuff for one of the most stylish audiences in town.

Hosted by local scenesters Tay Mitch and Brad Gilmore, whom Channel 39's Newsfix called "ebony and ivory at its finest," these few hours will have you looking forward to every Monday...just not Tuesdays. The party never stops on Instagram at @DebonairLoungeHTX, too. CHRIS GRAY

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