Shovels & Rope, Little Seeds

For a large chunk of my life, I would proudly declare to anybody who’d listen that I hated country music. I got downright righteous about it, honestly, for reasons that would probably only make sense to teenage wannabe music nerds with inflated senses of their own importance. And yeah, I’d imagine it was pretty freaking annoying…

Miears, Who Will Save You?

One of the best things I can say about any album, and even more so for an EP, is that it felt like it went by too fast, that I wanted it to keep going. That’s where I am with Miears’ new Who Will Save You? EP; it’s alluring and lush and intense, and I just want to hear more of it, or at least the whole damn thing, over and over again….

Red Fang, Only Ghosts

Red Fang are a conundrum of a band, one that I love for seemingly totally diametrically opposed reasons. On the one hand, I love their over-the-top, raw, heavy-as-fuck, metal sensibilities, the kind that write songs to make you punch the roof of your beat-to-shit old car…

Live: Deerhunter/Aldous Harding/Jock Gang

The Deerhunter concert was one I had been looking forward to since the last time I was able to see them in concert, which, unfortunately, was several years ago at SXSW — far too long. The evening began with Jock Gang, a band from Atlanta that I wasn’t familiar with, but their pounding noise-rock-meets-Velvet Underground sound grew on me as they played…

Jerk, Jerk EP

With their new, self-titled EP, down-low, funky/reggaeified pop trio Jerk has staked out some impressively new, (mostly) unexplored territory. The Houston-dwelling band starts off sounding like a kind of downtempo…

Live: Ra Ra Riot/Young the Giant

In an effort to get out of my comfort zone and expand my horizons (not to mention an effort to return to going to more shows, after a long break), when I received an email asking to review Syracuse, New York’s Ra Ra Riot

Keeton Coffman, Killer Eyes

I love Keeton Coffman. Until now, I’ve been unable to even start to explain why; there’s just something about the guy’s voice that works for me, pulling me along with the song. It helps that he’s got this Springsteenian delivery I dig, sure…

The Head and the Heart, Signs of Light

Things have changed a fair bit for Seattle band The Head and the Heart, these past few years. Most famously, frontman Josiah Johnson has been struggling with addiction, which means that while he wrote/co-wrote the songs on Signs of Light — particularly the title track, which closes out the album…

The Dandy Warhols, Distortland

It’s been a long road for The Dandy Warhols. They’ve occupied a very specific niche, it seems like, over the course of their 20-plus-year career, standing at the intersection between psychedelic rock, Brit-influenced pop, and indie-rock, and despite being real-live adults these days…

Ra Ra Riot, Need Your Light

I heard this too late by a month or so, it feels like; here in Houston, despite it still being too goddamn hot to willingly spend significant time outdoors, summer’s finally on its way out, giving way to what passes for “Autumn” in these parts (i.e., “chilly” temps most Northerners would snicker at, although I’d dare ’em to try to survive the heart of summer down here…). See, Ra Ra Riot’s Need Your Light is, at its core, a summer album, at least to these ears…

The Crookes, Lucky Ones

I went into Lucky Ones, the fourth album from The Crookes, with some trepidation. See, everything I’d heard or read about the Sheffield band focused on how singer George Waite’s voice seriously sounded just like Morrissey’s…and, to the unending horror of my wonderful, Morrissey-loving wife, I’ve never been a fan…

Big, Sparkly, & Loud: Birthday Club Makes Everything Alright in the End

Once, there was a band called Featherface. They were awesome, an intense, thoughtful blast of fuzzy psych-pop goodness. They toured, played SXSW, moved up to Austin, made some trippy, strange videos, got some cool press, and then…poof, they were gone. Before what turned out to be their last-ever show…

Frog Hair’s “My Best Foot Forward” Wants to Steal Fire from the Gods

From the moment the video for Frog Hair’s “My Best Foot Forward” begins, it is clear both in its immediate inspirations and the longer, deeper history it is part of. A lonely-looking mad scientist puppet weaves his perfect companion together, or attempts to, unaware that he is succeeding beyond his wildest dreams…

Beach Slang, A Loud Bash of Teenage Feelings

I’ll confess to being pretty disappointed in recent years with punk rock in general. Maybe I’m showing my age, but seriously, most of what I’ve heard lately has left me pretty cold, to the point where I’ve wondered if it’s really worth listening to as much anymore. Then, as happens at times like these, the Universe steps in to tell me I’m wrong, and I’m being a moron…in this case, “the Universe” being Pennsylvania rock dudes Beach Slang…

Waiting on the Next Storm: (Just Barely) Surviving FPSF 2016, Day One

First Thing #1: Apologies for my slowness in getting this online; as happens with the whole having-kids thing, summertime means not only Free Press Summer Festival, but also Vacation Time…

Let The Word Be Heard: The Wheel Workers Return Home After Introducing Themselves to the South

The Wheel Workers are a Houston mainstay, with three albums already under their belts since 2011 (and one on the way), but for anyone outside of Texas, they are criminally not as well-known, despite their obvious greatness. So how does a band go about getting the word out? They hit the road for a six-date tour…

Free Press Summer Fest 2016: Thoughts and Photos

First off, I’m very saddened to learn of FPSF attendee Megan Tilton‘s death. It makes reviews like this seem very trivial. I am praying for her family and hope they get to the bottom of the story of how she passed on…

FPSF 2016 Preview: Moving Units

In preparation for their appearance Sunday, June 5th, over at NRG Park for Free Press Summer Festival 2016, SCR sat down to throw some questions at Blake Miller, frontman of L.A. band Moving Units.

FPSF 2016 Preview: King Finn

I didn’t get King Finn‘s music at first. I am a graybeard. Think: Van Halen posters and Flying V guitars. The oldest guy in this band was born after I’d crashed my first Mustang. So admittedly, this all begins with a little butt-sniffing, and finding common ground on what it means to be in a rock band in modern-day America…

Adam Bricks, Relations

Alright, so I definitely need to quit referring to — and thinking of, beyond that — Adam Bricks as a folksinger. Because with Relations, he’s pretty much taken that label and lit it on fire, smiling, and then roared on past its accepted boundaries like he’s trying to craft something completely different. And yes, that’s a very, very good thing. Best of all, I think he knows exactly what he’s doing…

John Evans, Polyester

“A Tale of Two Elvises” — that’s what keeps popping into my head, weirdly, as I listen to John Evans’ new album Polyester. And it does make sense, kind of, as the album rolls on. I’ll explain how in a minute, but at the root, it’s because, see, Polyester isn’t much like what I’ve heard from Evans…

Into It. Over It., Standards

I never thought I’d say it, but I’m at the point in the whole emo-revival thing where it’s the bands who aren’t truly “emo” anymore that are the most interesting to me. I’m talking about the ones who blend together the original emo/post-emo stuff with, hell, I dunno, folk or prog or barroom rock…

Bleached, Welcome The Worms

Well, damn. Welcome The Worms, the brand-damn-new full-length from L.A. trio Bleached — two members of which, sisters Jennifer and Jessica Clavin, you might remember from late-2000s band Mika Miko — grabbed tight to my skeptic self from the very first note of “Keep On Keepin’ On” and refused to let go ’til the very end of “Hollywood, We Did It All Wrong”…

The Wiggins, Greater Minds

Jon Read may not have been born in the sweaty, swampy, dirty depths of Houston, Texas, but the city fits him like a (tattered, weird-smelling) glove. There’s just something about that raw, ripped-open, messy, muddy sound Read’s crafted over the course of his 15 years or so of his musical career…

Frog Hair — Houston’s Fuckin’ Awesomest Supergroup — Is Also a Really Old Figure of Speech.

Frog Hair is JJ White (Drillbox Ignition, Dizzy Pilot) abusing a guitar, singing lead, and doing most of the songwriting. It was previously a two-piece (literally one guitar and one drum), and for their first demos, which recall the earliest, fuzziest Pixies…

Cameron Dezen Hammon, Words Don’t Bleed

Sometimes the process is as cool as the product. (Well, almost as cool, anyway.) That’s definitely how I’m feeling about singer/songwriter and sometime The Rebecca West frontwoman Cameron Dezen Hammon’s latest…

The Ex-Optimists, Phantom Freight

More and more these days, I find myself admiring bravery when it comes to rock music; it’s a whole lot cooler, to me, to do something strange and different than it is to ride the same damn riffs and song structures and whatnot (well, okay, as long as the music itself works, but we’ll get to that)…

David Ramirez, Fables

I wasn’t sure what to make of David Ramirez’s latest full-length, Fables, not at first. I was expecting something more like the fiery Rooster, or maybe the downtrodden reconciliation of Apologies, but what I heard instead was a slate of (mostly) low-key, almost fragile songs that were slow-moving to the point of somnolence at times. I didn’t feel let down, not exactly, but I didn’t feel entirely satisfied, either…

Pecos Hank, El Reno Blues

Ever met someone who was, say, in a relationship with somebody, and you knew immediately that it wasn’t going to work — that something just wasn’t quite right, didn’t quite fit the way it was supposed to? Not that either person was bad, but that they weren’t right for one another? That’s how I feel about Hank Schyma, aka Pecos Hank, tornado-chaser, musician, videographer, and all-round larger-than-life dude…

Jealous Creatures, The Night Goes on for Days

Alright, so I’m gonna go out on a little bit of a limb, here: I think Jealous Creatures’ latest full-length, The Night Goes on for Days, is a sneaky, semi-secret, undeclared concept album of sorts. No, I’m serious. If I’m wrong, I’m sure the folks in the band will set me straight, but after repeated listenings to Night, it’s hard for me to escape the idea…

Knights of the Fire Kingdom, Knights of the Fire Kingdom

Oh, hell yes. From the very first blast of boogie-rawk guitar and distorted, half-snarled vocals on their eponymous debut LP, the Knights of the Fire Kingdom make it absolutely goddamn clear both what they are and what they are not, in equal measure. What they are is a straight-up, nitro-burning rock band…

FPSF 2015 Aftermath: Emptying Out the Backpack & Dispensing Wisdom

I’m still recovering from this past weekend’s absolutely insane Free Press Summer Festival 2015 — and yes, it’s going to be a long recovery, ’cause dammit, I’m old — but in the meantime I thought it might be enlightening to dump out the trusty old backpack and see what the hell’s in there. I figure that, hey, I do alright at this “festival” thing, so you might get some enlightment from the unpacking process. Learn from me, my children, and be wise. Or something…

The Wheel Workers, Citizens

Screw that whole “bands get quieter and more mellow as they get older” thing; who the hell wants that? The Wheel Workers, for one, sound like they’ve actually gotten louder and angrier as they’ve matured, band-wise, and I’m here to tell you that yes, that’s a very good thing. See, back in 2013 the band released their stellar second album, Past to Present, which pretty much took any problems I might’ve had with the band’s earlier stuff and threw them, smiling, into a running garbage disposal…

Football, Etc., Disappear

Sometimes, even when I really, really like a band — like is the case with, say, Houston-dwelling emo purveyors Football, etc. — there’s just some little thing/person/whatever missing to shove the whole thing over the edge into “holy crap, this is amazing” territory. Going by Football, etc.’s new four-song EP, Disappear, it looks like that thing is badass producer J. Robbins. Okay, that’s not all that’s happening here…

Live: Angel Olsen/Lionlimb

The mesmerizing, hypnotizing, beautiful Angel Olsen and her four-piece band came to Houston for a show at Fitzgerald’s a little while back, bringing with them the opening band, Lionlimb, who happened to be Ms. Olsen’s guitarist Stewart Bronaugh and drummer Josh Jaeger‘s band. Lionlimb were an easy-going, light surf-rock-meets-Pink Floyd affair…

John Bassett, Unearth

This album is in my Top 5 for 2014. I’m giving it 5 stars not just because I love the album (I do), but because it is that most rare of albums these days: an actual masterpiece. John Bassett steps away from his band, KingBathmat, and puts the focus solely on himself. Although he is the singer, bass player, and songwriter for KingBathmat, the songs are written with a band environment in mind…

Two Star Symphony, Seven Deadly Sins

As I’ve proclaimed a few times before in these pages, it’s no small thing to try to convey an emotion, a feeling, using music alone. With a vocalist standing out in front of the band, you can make things a lot more clear, declare your intentions more succinctly, and actually pull the audience along with you to where you want them to go emotionally. If the lyrics of a song are about someone dying, then odds are good…

The Church of Philadelphia, We’re Gonna Dance Tonight

I found it really difficult to write this review, a whole lot harder than I’d ever expected I would. Now, in case you’re one of those people who only reads the first paragraph of a review and makes their mind up then and there, let me clarify that I don’t mean this review was hard to write because I don’t like The Church of Philadelphia’s long-awaited second album, We’re Gonna Dance Tonight. On the contrary, I absolutely love it…

Folk Family Revival, Water Walker

Four years is a long time for anybody, and even longer for a musician, who’s liable to spend large chunks of that time on the road, scrabbling and scraping for any way they can somehow get ahead and avoid going broke doing what they love. It’s a long time in which you might stumble, might fall…

A Sundae Drive, The Senseless & The Sound

Midway through listening to A Sundae Drive’s most recent full-length, the followup to 2011’s excellent, You’re Gonna Get Me, it hit me just how, well, how dark it is. There’s a murky, bitter edge to the band’s sound on here, despite the seemingly cheery pop melodies…


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