Hearts of Animals' Mutation Poses a Beautiful Puzzle

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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Here's Where Houston Whatever Fest Came From

Scheduled HWF performer Andrew WK already gives the new festival a big thumbs-up.
If you happened to head down to Lucky's Pub during the height of this year's World Cup action, you probably noticed the district around BBVA Compass Stadium, the several apartment blocks in the area and Warehouse Live has become one of those thriving urban pockets that so-called "livable city" advocates always talk about. Turns out it's even got its own nickname, the "EaDo Party Park."

Wednesday afternoon word started circulating on social media of a new music festival in this Party Park, which longtime Warehouse Live talent buyer Jason Price confirmed to us Thursday morning. Dubbed "Houston Whatever Fest," the two-day indoor/outdoor event is scheduled for August 9 and 10 at a most reasonably price: $55 for a two-day pass.

The HWF lineup currently features some some thirtysomething performers, predominantly hard rock, punk, indie and electronica, with outliers like female rapper Kreayshawn, New Orleans funkateers the Rebirth Brass Band and a reunion of popular Houston DJ crew the Boys and Girls Club. But plans also call for HWF to put almost as many comedy acts onstage, making it a kissin' cousin to Austin's popular Fun Fun Fun Fest.

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The 10 Best Shows in Houston This Weekend: Zomboy, JT, Ian Moore, Sheryl Crow, etc.

Stereo Live, July 11

One thing you learn seeing Zomboy is that he doesn't play around when it comes to trying to crush your body with waves of bass. The man born Joshua Jenkin starts things off intense and it pretty much stays that way the entire time; forget zombies and ordinary monsters, we're talking kaiju-level sonic destruction. It's a noisy, chaotic, wild, but ultimately entertaining experience.

Whether you're the type to dance until your feet give out or just want to stand around and simply survive the onslaught, Zomboy will give you a lot to love. Just consider bringing earplugs; your hearing loss won't come back from the dead. With Cookie Monsta and Eptic. CORY GARCIA

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Whatever: Houston's Getting Another Music Fest Next Month

Is Houston ready to sweat out two more days of music barely two months after Free Press Summer Fest, only this time with a little more laughter?

We may be about to find out. Wednesday afternoon, a new festival calling itself Houston Whatever Fest popped up online and on social media, promising music and comedy (and more) on August 9 and 10 somewhere called EaDo Party Park. Not sure if that's a thing, but the Facebook event page lists the same address as Warehouse Live.

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The Rocks Off 200: Mlee Marie Mains, the Heart of Hearts of Animals

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 previous entries in the Rocks Off 100 at this link.

Photos courtesy of Hearts of Animals
Who? Another Mutation is a funny title for Hearts of Animals' third full-length album. No two of its lo-fi, sweet but melancholy songs are quite the same, but all are recognizably the work of the young woman who offstage goes by the name of Mlee Marie Mains. Mlee/Hearts of Animals (pronounced "Emily" and "Hearts of Animals") has been a dependable presence in Houston's indie scene since 2007, when just about every music-loving site in town including this one flipped its collective wig over her self-released short LP/extended EP Lemming Baby.

Driven by the almost country-ish "Hearts Break" (hard not to think of Mazzy Star's Hope Sandoval on that one) and Casio-punk "Lostinthetranslation," Lemming was eventually remastered and released on iTunes last February. In the interim, Mlee recorded and released a second album, Cave Lights, in 2009. (That one is only available on Bandcamp, she says.)

She has also collaborated and guested live with a host of locals -- including a notable lead vocal on "Rust," from Linus Pauling Quartet's 2012 LP Bag of Hammers -- as Hearts of Animals has grown from a frequent solo act to a full-fledged band now also featuring her brother Joey.

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Displaced by Fire, Funnyman MC Reko Trill Says #BurnDownForWhat

Categories: Only In Houston

Photos courtesy of Reko Trill
It was a hot and humid Thursday afternoon last week when local MC Reko Trill left his apartment to grab a bite and pick up a few items in anticipation for the 4th of July weekend. A summer thunderstorm rolled through that evening, dropping rain and booms of lightning all over the Houston area.

One such lightning bolt touched down at La Mirage Resort Apartments in West Houston, causing a 2-alarm fire. The Houston Fire Department responded with almost 100 firefighters, and fought the blaze for two hours. Thanks in part to Dennis Hood, the security guard at the complex, everyone was evacuated safely and the only injury was a firefighter's minor burns.

But 16 apartments were lost in the flames, among them was Trill's home. When he returned to the complex after running his errands, he was met by the chaos of sirens, fire and water hoses. Trill took to social media to let his friends know he was okay and to vent.

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Bands Want Houston Beer Fest to Pay Up

Categories: Only In Houston

Photos by Francisco Montes
A number of bands who played the recent Houston Beer Fest are now upset with the promoters, claiming they bounced checks to as many as 20 acts who appeared, as well as some vendors. Meanwhile, the promoters say they are digging out from a huge financial hole resulting from scheduled headliner Rick Ross's no-show at the event (not to mention theft by their own employees), and are pursuing legal action themselves.

Tuesday afternoon on the Houston Beer Fest 2015 Facebook page, Evan Dickson, manager of Austin alt-rock group Dynamite Hack, posted, "You guys should really pay all the bands from 2014 before scheduling 2015."

His comments were co-signed by Jonathan Pretus, vocalist/guitarist for New Orleans-based The Breton Sound, who also performed at Beer Fest. Later in the thread, he said the band was not informed of the free beer available in the artists' catering area until it was too late and the band had already bought their own beer tickets, "which in itself was an adventure."

"Not the most organized event I've ever been to," he said.

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Cosmic Bug Loaf Bassist Chris Bauman Killed in Accident

Houston's music scene lost a unique voice over the Independence Day weekend. Chris Bauman, bassist, keyboardist and sound engineer for Cosmic Bug Loaf, was struck by a suspected drunk driver and killed outside of San Marcos. He was 26.

Bauman came to the Houston area from Des Moines, Iowa, living in The Woodlands and graduating from high school in 2006. In 2011, he became the final piece of the puzzle that solidified Cosmic Bug Loaf's lineup, joining founding members John Alton and Chad Liebold to create a truly unique psychedelic sound experience that remained one-of-a-kind throughout the band's career.

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UPDATED: The Best Acts Not on the 2014 HPMA Ballot Are...

Graphics by Monica Fuentes
UPDATE (Tuesday, 9 a.m.) to clarify a few reader questions about the write-in process.

(Wednesday, 10 a.m.): also updated in re: duplicate voting.

When Rocks Off announced the 2014 Houston Press Music Award nominees last month, some readers were taken aback by our new method of choosing the nominees. This time we asked a carefully selected panel of music-scene insiders for their suggestions, rather than relying on the public to choose the nominees as in years past.

We stand by our decision, because we know everyone on our committee follows the Houston scene closely and passionately. We trust their judgement implicitly, and think each and every one of the 2014 HPMA nominees deserves a spot on the ballot. But the last thing we wanted to do was to shut out our readers from having any say in the matter. Hardly.

That's why this morning, it gives Rocks Off great pleasure to announce the creation of a HPMA write-in category.

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The Five Best Concerts in Houston This Week: Queen & Adam Lambert, New Edition, etc.

Photo courtesy of Free Radicals
Free Radicals
AvantGarden, July 7

Free Radicals is both Nick Cooper's revolving-door ensemble that at any given moment could be playing free jazz, Latin funk or brass-band music, and also Cooper's ongoing testimonial to how much he digs being a member of the Houston music community. He has so much experience at this point that he has very much become a one-man hub of that community.

In 2012, Cooper brought that same kind of musical civic pride to the Radicals' first albumin several years, The Freedom Fence, and watched it win a well-deserved Houston Press Music Award for Local Album of the Year. The group's weekly jam, wherever it may be, is a true local-music institution. For a while (off and on) it's been at AvantGarden, a local-music institution of its own. CHRIS GRAY

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