The Five Best Concerts in Houston This Week: Watsky, Heart, Jason Aldean, B.o.B., etc.

Photo by Gage Skidmore via Flickr
House of Blues, October 21

Last year, the most badass statistical analyst you've ever heard of, Matt Daniels, released something called the Hip-Hop Flow Chart, which ranked several popular rap acts by vocabulary size. I pored over the results like a rap geek and wondered how could Daniels have missed this prolific word-monster. This year, Daniels' version 2.0 of the chart rightfully included San Francisco-based Watsky, and counted 5,651 unique words among the first 35,000 he rapped.

That slotted him alongside some of the very best, names like Aesop Rock (still reigning champ), Sage Francis, Immortal Technique and The Roots. Watsky's new album, All You Can Do, which features more smart and empowering raps from the San Franciscan, who always seems genuinely grateful to be able to do what he does. JESSE SENDEJAS JR.

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Ray Johnston Now a Baller With a Guitar


Being a baller was his ultimate dream, but sometimes what you want isn't always what you get.

That's the case for former Dallas Mavericks player turned Texas musician Ray Johnston. His current album is called No Bad Days, and that's also his life's anthem.

"Thinking about the theme of the album No Bad Days, to me is the strongest song I've ever been a part of writing and I think it summed up my last ten years as far as getting a shitty diagnosis -- sorry, crappy diagnosis -- and doing my best to turn a lot of frowns upside down," says Johnston. "It was really dark for a while, man. Having leukemia five times in 12 years, there's a lot of pissed-off moments, but my parents wouldn't let me sulk."

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The 10 Best Concerts in Houston This Weekend: Skatestock III, Grindfest 2014, Brand New, etc.

Photo by Anna O'Connor/Plowboy Records
Cheetah Chrome
Fitzgerald's, October 17

Alongside fellow contenders like Johnny Ramone, Cheetah Chrome became one of the titanic guitarists of CBGB-era American punk. His origins, though, erupted a few years earlier in down-and-out Cleveland, where he helped propel two groundbreaking units there: Rocket from the Tombs and the Dead Boys, who together fomented a warped sonic renaissance with tunes like "Sonic Reducer."

As his new memoir A Dead Boy's Tale: From The Front Lines of Punk Rock recounts, street smarts are a crucial part of Chrome's DNA. Hence, his swaggering new album, Solo (incredibly, his first-ever full-length solo outing), evokes a gritty spirit of survival without hauling along tons of sentimentality. With the Drunks, the Guillotines and Born Liars; see our interview from Thursday. DAVID ENSMINGER

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CBGB Survivor Cheetah Chrome's Creed: "Honesty and Quality"

Photo by Anna O'Connor/Plowboy Records
Alongside fellow contenders like Johnny Ramone, Cheetah Chrome became one of the titanic, blistering guitarists launching the first wave of CBGB-era punk into the stratosphere of American culture. Yet his origins erupted a few years earlier in down-and-out Cleveland. As an authentic, no-bullshit rock and roll soldier, he helped propel two groundbreaking units there: Rocket from the Tombs, with David Thomas of Pere Ubu, and the Dead Boys, with his mate Stiv Bators. Together, these bands fomented a warped sonic renaissance and soon rendezvoused with history.

Since leading the attack with tunes like the Dead Boys' "Sonic Reducer," Chrome has taken a slightly crooked path by working with a variety of equally laudable figures, such as Ronnie Spector, Nico, Jeff Dahl and more recently New York Dolls alum Sylvain Sylvain, his partner in the Batusis. As his memoir A Dead Boy's Tale: From The Front Lines of Punk Rock recounts, street smarts are a crucial part of his DNA; hence, his new album, the swaggering Solo (incredibly, Chrome's first full-length solo outing), evokes a gritty spirit of survival without hauling along tons of sentimentality.

Rocks Off's David Ensminger reached Chrome on the road before his gig Friday at Fitzgerald's with Houston's Born Liars, the Guillotines and the Drunks.

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The Five Best Concerts in Houston This Week: ICP, Eagles, Rodrigo y Gabriela, Charli XCX, etc.

Photo by Marc Brubaker
Juggalos at Warehouse Live in 2011
Insane Clown Posse
Warehouse Live, October 13

2014 has been a quiet year in Juggalo Nation, or at least the Uncle Sam hasn't issued any new reports labeling their fans one step above common criminals; that we know of, anyway. Violent J and Shaggy 2 Dope did lose a lawsuit against both the Justice Department and the FBI back in July, one that stemmed from the G-men's 2011 classification of Juggalos as "a loosely organized hybrid gang."

Come's just a couple of plus-sized dudes rapping about psychopaths and budget-priced soda pop, right? If you can get past the Faygo baths and incessant titty talk, the Juggalo overlords actually espouse a message of tolerance and solidarity for a class of people normally mocked, ridiculed or otherwise just ignored in American society. Fucking do they work? CHRIS GRAY

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Young Mammals Back in Gear on Alto Seco

Photo by Brandon Holley/Courtesy of Grandstand PR
As the members' ages stretch past their mid-twenties, Young Mammals still don't really seem like the kind of band that can be classified as veterans. That's what it amounts to, though.

It's been more than a decade since brothers Carlos and Jose Sanchez and their classmate Cley Miller started the band while students at Stratford High School. Calling themselves the Dimes, their energetic, indie-minded take on power-pop made them one of Houston's buzziest bands circa the mid-2000s; they won Best New Act at the 2007 Houston Press Music Awards and drew enthusiastic, equally youthful crowds to local venues like the Proletariat.

Hard to believe it's been almost ten years since those days. As the 2000s were winding down, the then-Dimes got caught in a copyright flap with a band in Portland, Ore., that had also laid claim to that name, so they re-christened themselves Young Mammals. In the summer of 2010, the band released their debut LP, Carrots.

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Five of the Many, Many Times Mötley Crüe Should Have Retired Already

This is them.
To hear Motley Crue tell it, Saturday night will be the last time they perform for a Houston crowd together. The glam-metal archetypes, storied rock and roll survivors all, say that this is it for them. The Final Tour. They even made a big show of signing a contract pledging never again to perform as Motley Crue. So clearly, they're serious here, guys.

But does anyone believe it? How can you? If Motley Crue has proven anything since they crawled out of some Sunset Strip gutter in the '80s, it's that they're impossible to kill. Pretty safe to assume that, like their heroes Aerosmith, KISS and Ozzy, the Crue will break up and make up (in makeup) until they're all dead. After all, if drugs, divorce, rehab and prison can't rid us of Motley Crue, a legal document-cum-press conference doesn't stand much chance, now does it?

Because let's face it, it doesn't take a lot of brainpower to come up with instances where Motley Crue clearly should have called it a day, yet clung desperately to those leather pants. Here are just a few of the most memorable times they forged on against all sanity.

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James McMurtry Knows What Works by Now

Categories: Playbill, Texas Me

Photo courtesy of Conqueroo
From the my-how-time-flies category: James McMurtry, who plays a solo show at McGonigel's Mucky Duck Saturday, marks a quarter-century as a professional musician this year. He began his career in the late '80s by gaining recognition at songwriting events associated with the Kerrville Folk Festival, and managed to get a demo tape into the hands of John Mellencamp in 1988. At the time, Mellencamp was working on a movie with McMurty's father Larry, the author of such novels as Lonesome Dove and The Last Picture Show.

Too Long In the Wasteland, produced by Mellencamp, was a monumental, panoramic debut album that propelled McMurtry toward the front ranks of Texas singer-songwriters. Those who remember his earliest Texas tours will recall a young introvert struggling with the requirements and demands of the spotlight; it was not always comfortable to watch. With the brim of his trademark hat pulled down to shield him from close inspection by the audience, McMurtry won audiences over with his songs, his guitar playing, and his literate gravitas.

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The 10 Best Concerts in Houston This Weekend: Katy Perry, Mötley Crüe, Erasure, Untapped...

Photo by Kevin Mazur-Wireimage/Courtesy of Rogers & Cowan
Katy Perry
Toyota Center, October 10 & 11

People can hate on pop concerts all they want, but they're probably viewing them all wrong. If they attend expecting a musical experience that rattles their very core, they will likely be disappointed. But approach it as a spectacle, and the experience is and it's almost always enjoyable. (You wouldn't watch Superbad the same way as Citizen Kane, now would you?) Perry is a walking spectacle that churns out pop hit after pop hit, and her stage show is bound to be highly entertaining. SELENA DIERINGER

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Alice Cooper Once Made a High Schooler's Dream Come True

Categories: Playbill, Pop Life

Illustration by Emily Costello
Note: This story was written by Kathy Cano-Murillo and comes to us from our sister blog in Phoenix, Up on the Sun.

Once upon a time in Phoenix, in the fall of 1980, my high-school journalism teacher, Mrs. Finerman, was standing before the class, her voice thick with Willy Wonka mystery.

"This is a very special room," she told us. "Years ago, right here, a man by the name of Vincent Furnier wrote for this school newspaper."

We all shrugged, unimpressed.

"Annnd...?' someone finally asked in a polite why-should-we-care tone.

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