John Evans recently released Polyester, his first in six years, via Houston’s Splice Records. Evans is playing a series of free in-store record store sets, which brings him back to Houston this Saturday (5.21.16) to perform songs from the album at Cactus Music.
The show starts at 1pm, and copies of Polyester will be available.
Evans’ has been a long-time favorite of Houstonians, earning eight straight years of Houston Press Music Awards (including six-time Best Male Vocalist, four-time Best Songwriter, two-time Musician of the Year, and Best Roots Rock Band) before his move to Austin a few years ago.
Here are some videos from Evans, including “Butterfly Girl,” which is also the title of a documentary film about his daughter, Abbie, who passed away from a rare skin disease in 2013, and was the inspiration for Polyester. You can read more in the Houston Chronicle, Houston Press, Free Press Houston, and Houstonia.
I can’t recall when musician Josh Rouse last played Houston, but he’ll be here tomorrow night (Monday, 5.16.16) at the House of Blues Bronze Peacock Room. Arthur Yoria–whose latest video for “Ruff Life” is garnering attention–opens the show.
Tickets to the show, which starts at 6:30pm, are available from Live Nation.
One of Houston’s most interesting bands, The Linus Pauling Quartet, celebrates the digital release of its latest album, Ampalanche, with a free in-store performance today (Saturday, 4.23.16) at Cactus Music at 3pm.
Ampalanche will be available online via iTunes, emusic, Amazon, Spotify, and Bandcamp. The vinyl version is available via the Vincebus Eruptum label.
While many may not yet be familiar with Starline‘s music, both band members have had an undeniable influence on the Houston music scene. Former Houston Rocket Matt Maloney founded 12 Records, which released Arthur Yoria’s still-impressive I’ll Be Here Awake in 2003, and Calvin Stanley was the frontman/guitarist for the long-running alt-rock band Pale (you may remember the video for “Catastrophic Skies”).
Obvious fans of Eighties-era 120 Minutes bands, Stanley and Maloney incorporate the more synth-driven influences of that time (Depeche Mode is an obvious example) into their songs, making them both modern and familiar. Mostly absent are the requisite guitar solos; instead, Starline intersperses them with a heavy dose of loops and beats.
The ragged edges of the gloomy “Platinum Spider” contrast nicely with the upbeat “Four On The Floor,” catchy “Redacted,” and melodic album-standout “Everyone Makes A Sound.” One of four songs on CJM reworked from a self-titled debut EP quietly released digitally a couple of years ago, it would easily fit into Pale’s catalog. Despite the obvious studio tinkering–the album reportedly took two years to make–the duo (with assistance from producer Steve Christensen) shows restraint.
Those familiar with Pale’s fondness for anthemic hooks certainly won’t be disappointed with the songs on CJM, and will find common ground with the album’s introspective lyrics. CJM shows Stanley and Maloney to be kindred spirits in their songwriting and musical tastes, and much of the album also brings to mind another scruffy, brooding frontman that likes to noodle in the studio: Nine Inch Nails’ Trent Reznor. Their songs contain a similar strong undercurrent of pining for lost loves and frustration with current relationships (“I don’t want to descend to your condescension / I hate that I live and breathe you,” Maloney sings on “Unloveable”). Starline’s songs also show the men wrestling with the inevitability of growing older and the challenges, soul-searching, and jaded frustration this can bring.
For example, “Orphans”–another album high point–finds them coming to terms with the death of close family members (the album’s title is a tribute to Maloney’s brother, Christopher). “Will you come find us, if you can,” Stanley sings. “We just want to understand.”
There’s miscommunication, disenchantment, technophobia, anger, and this longing for meaning throughout Starline’s songs, along with a cocksure-yet-sensitive sense of “I’ve got nothing to lose and plenty left to prove.” This last aspect is most evident in album opener, “Bruise,” on which Stanley sings, “I’ve got a soul like a bulletproof vest / I’m hitting back at the expecting less.”
CJM combines these dark themes with mostly catchy–and often danceable–songs that weave Starline’s New Wave-era influences into something new without sounding overly derivative or dated. If Maloney and Stanley have something left to prove, it will be interesting to hear.
The long-awaited new music venue White Oak Music Hall finally opens tomorrow night (Saturday, 4.9.16) with performances by M83 and Yacht. The venue–booked by Pegstar Productions–is set to host a lot of great upcoming shows, including The Flaming Lips, Explosions In The Sky, Reverend Horton Heat, and David Bazan.
As indicated on the venue’s website:
Pegstar Productions, one of the largest independently-owned concert booking and promotions companies in the Southwest, will book and operate WOMH. Perhaps best known for organizing the annual FPSF music festival in Houston, which attracts more than 80,000 attendees each year, Pegstar programmed well over 500 live events in 2014 alone.
Local musician Cameron Dezen Hammon‘s new album of 80’s and 90’s covers, Words Don’t Bleed, is now available, and the singer/songwriter celebrates with a show tonight (Friday, 3.4.16) at the Nightingale Room in downtown Houston. Showtime is 8:30pm.
Purchase the album online at amazon.com, buy it locally at the show tonight, or get it at Cactus Music.
The line-up for Free Press Summer Festival was announced this week, and includes another diverse set of bands. deadmau5, Modest Mouse, Violent Femmes, The Black Angels, Blue Healer, White Denim, The National, Trae Tha Truth, Built To Spill, Children of Pop, and many more will play June 4-5, 2016, in Houston’s Eleanor Tinsley Park.
Local electro-rock band Starline–former Pale frontman/guitarist Calvin Stanley III and former NBA player Matt Maloney–releases its new album, CJM, today (2.25.16). It is available to purchase online and on streaming services.
The duo hosts an album listening party tonight in Houston at Hughes Hangar on Washington Ave. near downtown.
Houston Press recently published an article on Starline, which you can read here.