Yr. Weekend, Pt. 2: Brand New Heart + Ragged Hearts + Artopia + Jealous Creatures + March to the Sea + The Phlegmatics + Molly Ringwald + More

1512392_10104286876711584_656773210_nOn into Saturday now, January 25th, and the icy bleakness of yesterday has given way to, well, a really awesomely nice (if still chilly) blue-sky day outside. Which is a good thing, believe me, because there’s a ton of excellent stuff going on today/tonight; here goes:

Brand New Hearts/Golden Sombrero/Race To The Moon @ The White Swan
Damn, I love these guys. Brand New Hearts combines the talents of Nathan Parsons (ex-Ultramagg), Ben Murphy (ex-Panic in Detroit/-Lucky Motors/-Pop Deflation/-a billion other bands), and Jeff Senske (ex-Bright Men of Learning, all guys who’ve made amazing music separately in the past, and turns them, Voltron-style, into a badass juggernaut of head nod-inducing, just-distorted-enough, catchy as hell power-pop. Think Ultimate Fakebook, think (early) Weezer, think The Posies, think Sloan, and you’ll be in the ballpark. And if you can, grab a copy of their self-titled cassette, because yes, it’s great.

Opening the night is another guitar-pop band, Race to the Moon, who are similar in sound but kind of on the other side of the “age” spectrum, with the band mostly being a bunch of youngsters as opposed to BNH’s Old Dude Like Me-ness. I’ve liked what I’ve heard so far; they’re one of the more promising young bands I’ve heard lately. In-between’s a bit of a mystery, at least to me — I’d never heard of Golden Sombrero ’til this past week, but apparently the band includes Wonko from College Station heroes The Ex-Optimists, and that’s no bad thing…

Ragged Hearts @ Cactus Music (3PM)
I’m putting this one early because I really don’t want you to miss the boat, and yeah, it starts in about an hour from now, so… After many, many years of relative quiet, great, great roots-rock outfit Ragged Hearts is alive & kicking once again and making an appearance at Cactus Music this afternoon, and hallelujah for that.

They’ve just released The Champ, their first full-length in six freaking years(!), and even after a quick listen, I’m still having to pick my face up off the floor. There’s less of the “rootsy”-ness this time around, it’s true, but in its place is a more straight-up classic rock/pop sound, sending the band veering over into the rarefied, rough-around-the-edges realm of folks like The Replacements and The Hold Steady (with The Boss peeking in through the trees). These guys are seriously one of Houston’s most unfairly-overlooked bands, and dammit, that needs to change.

1507646_10153697853825315_503436891_nHouston Press Artopia, featuring Ceeplus Badknives, Electric Attitude, Featherface, Deep Cuts, & DJ Dave Wrangler @ 2101 Winter St. (8-11PM)
Artsy party people, yep, this one’s for you. Folks have been looking forward to Artopia for a while now, and with good reason — from all reports, it’s a very cool party, bringing together the worlds of art, fashion, food, and music, which encompasses a lot of awesome stuff.

I can’t say much for the art or fashion sides of things, myself, but I can vouch for the bands they’ve tapped to play this year, a list that includes funky rockers Electric Attitude, majestically hazy psych-popsters Featherface, King DJs Ceeplus Bad Knives and Dave Wrangler, and Deep Cuts, who I’ve been seriously wanting to see. Add that to excellent food, cool art, cool (I guess?) fashions, and great food, and hey, that’s a good time.

The Black Market Club/Luxley/Olivia/March to the Sea/Jealous Creatures @ Mango’s ($7)
No clue on the headliners at this show up at Mango’s tonight, I’m afraid — Luxley, The Black Market Club, and the un-Googleable Olivia are all new to me — but I definitely like the openers. First up is Jealous Creatures, a truly excellent band that plays this out-West highway-driving music that points backwards to both classic Cowboy Junkies and Elastica in equal measure.

Then there’s March to the Sea, who are relative newcomers but who I’ve gotten to like quite a bit in a short amount of time. Their Forest EP, from back in September, is very cool, kind of brooding indie-emo-rock that crunches and stomps along through a murky landscape while you watch/listen…

The Medrano Brothers Death Circus, featuring Love Knife, The Snow Indian, Wayon For Sex Jennings, The Phlegmatics, Brandi Bell, Kirsten Clingman, Jandro Nerdo, & Artful Dodger @ Super Happy Fun Land
So. What the hell is this? Is it a show? Is it a circus, like the name says? Frankly, I have no idea. Nada. What I do know is that the flyer lists some damn cool people, like gritty folk-punks The Snow Indian and one of my absolute-favorite bands, pop-punks The Phlegmatics. (Oh, and a band called Waylon for Sex Jennings, which yes, kinda cracks me up.

But back to The Phlegmatics: you really, really need to see this band. Partly because they tend to vanish for years at a time, and partly because they write and play these ridiculously catchy, geeky, unself-conscious songs that take Weezer’s inherent loser-cool shtick and make it actually work. Seriously, do it.

1546241_295851613873439_1950077368_nMolly Ringwald & the Brazosport Jazz Orchestra @ The Clarion at Brazosport College (Brazosport; 7:30PM)
No, that’s not a joke, I swear to God. This is that Molly Ringwald, the one you remember from Pretty in Pink and The Breakfast Club and Sixteen Candles…only nowadays she’s recreated herself as a jazz singer. Again: not even kidding. And yes, she does a cover of “Don’t You (Forget About Me)”. She’ll be playing at The Clarion tonight, on the Brazosport College campus.

Cheap Time/Infinite Apaches/The Wiggins @ Fitzgerald’s
Shmu (mem. of Zorch)/Caddywhompus @ Houston House of Creeps
Final Fest, featuring My Friend Me, SAYA, Josiah Gabriel, To Whom It May, Giant Battle Monster, Vox Vocis, Guwange, & more @ The Vanishing Point Cafe (Galveston; 5PM-2AM)
Blaggards @ Dan Electro’s Guitar Bar
13th Annual Trinity Jazz Festival, featuring Eric Essex & Mood Indigo @ Trinity Episcopal Church (1015 Holman; 8-10:30PM)
Badfish (Sublime tribute)/Cassette Tape @ House of Blues
Straight Line Stitch/Day of Reckoning/Five Eyes Wide/Inner Image/Twelve Years Driven/86 Within @ BFE Rock Club

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