Tag: Houston TX

1996 · 1996 – Around You


Mike Lee is an Austin, TX-based multi-instrumentalist and producer, best known for his work with acts like Letting Up Despite Great Faults, Fanclub and others. His latest recording project 1996 thematically focuses on some of the most formative years of our lives — our teenaged years, as a way to remind the listener of the feelings and thoughts of one’s youth, as a way to forge a deeper connection with today’s youth.

Every 1996 will feature a different artist from a different city with the hopes to make that literal connection remind the listener of the first time that we really felt connected to anything or anyone. The project’s latest single “Around You,” features Lauren Massa of Houston-based act Velveteen Echo.  The track which is centered around stuttering beats, a New Order-like bass line, dusty sounding electronics and Massa’s plaintive vocals, manages to sound a bit like The Postal Service — but while capturing the complicated and often confusing emotions of a swooning first crush/first love, the song also evokes the inevitable push and pull of adult decisions and their implications on you as you make those decisions.


Elijah Estrada is an emerging, 21 year-old Houston-based emcee, who writes and records with the monoynm Eli. Inspired by the likes by Tyler the Creator, A$AP Rocky, Isaiah Rashad and Young Thug, the young emcee spent the past two years focusing on honing his craft and sound — a sound that sets him apart from his Houston area counterparts.

Like countless other young artists around the world, Estrada has balanced his passion and desire to make a name for himself as a recording artists while working a legitimate day job at a factory to support himself and his family — sometimes doing backbreaking, soul-sucking work to survive. Many us — yours truly, including — have been on that relentless grind mode while trying to achieve our dreams.

The young Houston-based emcee’s latest single, the BMTJ produced single “Hit Me” is centered around a slick and soulful production featuring shimmering a sinuous bass line, shimmering Rhodes and tweeter and woofer rocking 808s and the young emcee’s easy-going delivery. Interestingly, the track reveals a remarkably self-assured and hungry young artist, having faith in himself and his abilities and taking a momentous risk to achieve his dreams, followed by him picturing a bright future, as one of his hometown’s hottest emcees.

New Video: Kat Edmonson’s Dreamy Take on Louis Armstrong’s “What A Wonderful World”

Kat Edmonson is an acclaimed Houston, TX-born, Brooklyn-based singer/songwriter, who can trace some of the origins of her musical career to her childhood: her mom adored the Great American songbook and ’40s and 50’s pop — and as a child, Edmonson grew up listening to her mom’s records. She wrote her first song when she was nine, while riding the school bus.

She spent a year, attending the College of Charleston before relocating to Austin, TX to pursue a music career. While in Austin, Edmonson auditioned for the second season of American Idol and wound up being one of the Top 48 contestants invited to Hollywood. After appearing on American Idol, the Houston-born, Brooklyn-based singer/songwriter returned to Austin, where she spent several years performing regularly in local clubs. 

Her full-length debut, 2009’s Take to the Sky landed on the Top 20 of the Billboard Jazz Charts. Edmonson’s sophomore album, 2012’s Way Down Low was released to praise from The New York Times and NPR and reached #1 on the Billboard Heatseekers Chart. Her third album, 2014’s The Big Picture continued an impressive run of critical and commercial success with the album reaching  #1 on the Billboard Heatseekers Chart.  

The Houston-born, Brooklyn-based singer/songwriter has opened for Jamie Cullum and Lyle Lovett, with whom she collaborated on a rendition of “Baby, It’s Cold Outside,” which appeared on Lovett’s 2012’s effort Release Me and again on “Long Way Home,” which appeared on Edmonson’s aforementioned sophomore album Way Down Low — and she has headlined the Taichung Jazz Festival in Taiwan and the New York City Jazz Festival.  In 2012, she appeared on NPR’s Tiny Desk concert series and Austin City Limits. During 2013 and 2014, Edmonson appeared on A Prairie Home Companion, playing the role of Cat Mandu for the show’s regular skit “Guy Noir, Private Eye.” And adding to a batch of high profile appearances and gigs, Edmonson has maintained a busy national and international touring schedule that has included Montreux Jazz Festival

Edmonson’s fourth album, 2018’s Old Fashioned Gal was conceived as an imaginary, classic Hollywood movie that largely took shape in her imagination,  and naturally, was inspired by the Great American Songbook. Interestingly, the acclaimed Houston-born, Brooklyn-based singer/songwriter’s recently released fifth album Dreamers Do finds Edmonson tackling beloved mid-20th Century Disney songs — from Alice in Wonderland, Cinderella, Peter Pan, Pinocchio, Bedknobs on Broomsticks, Mary Poppins, Babes in Wonderland, familiar classics like “All I Do is Dream of You” from Singing in the Rain, Louis Armstrong’Louis Armstrong’s “What A Wonderful World” and two Edmonson originals “Too Late to Dream” and “Someone’s in the House.” 

Structurally, the album’s material is meant to take place during a single night — from bedtime until morning. And as Edmonson explains in press notes, “It’s about our concepts around dreaming — all of the wonderful things and the fearful things, the things that keep us awake in the middle of the night. It’s also about the quiet power of merely having a dream . . . ” Dreamers Do’s latest single is a Edmonson’s rendition of Louis Armstrong’s beloved “What A Wonderful World” centered around a twinkling arrangement and Edmonson’s effortlessly gorgeous and old-timey vocal. And while managing to be a fairly straightforward rendition, Edmonson delivers a lullaby-like take that subtly hints at “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star.”

Directed and edited by David Shultz, the recently released video for “What A Wonderful World” follows Edmonson in an empty studio space with a 35mm film camera — and while the viewer isn’t quite sure if she’s awake or dreaming, the video reveals Edmonson to be a beguiling and sweet natured presence. 

Comprised of Marshall, MN-born, Minneapolis, MN-based singer/songwriter, electronic music producer and electronic music artist Sean Tillmann, best known for his solo recording project Har Mar Superstar and A Giant Dog‘s and Sweet Spirit‘s Houston, TX-born, Austin, TX-based frontperson Sabrina Ellis, Heart Bones is a new, collaborative project that can trace its origins to when Ellis and Tillmann meeting and becoming friends while touring back in 2016. They recognized a shared love of over-the-top showmanship, which made their collaboration seem inevitable.

Throughout last year, the members of Heart Bones have made alternating trips back and forth between Minneapolis and Austin to write original material. Interestingly, Ellis and Tillmann are inspired by many of the classic duos of the 60s including Nancy Sinatra and Lee Hazelwood, Serge Gainsbourg and Jane Brikin, Sonny and Cher, Sam and Dave and others — and s a result. the project draws from doo wop, electronic dance music, electro pop and pop. Their currently working on the finishing touches of their debut EP; but in the meantime, From Here to Eternity . . . And Back-era Giorgio Moroder-like “Little Dancer” is centered around layers of arpeggiated synths, tweeter and woofer rocking beats paired with Ellis and Tillmann’s ethereal boy-girl harmonizing. And while the song is club friendly, it possesses an achingly sad air.

Tillmann and Ellis will be embarking on a tour through June and July with Good Fuck. The tour includes a July 14, 2019 stop at Le Poisson Rouge. Check out, the rest of the tour dates below.

Tour Dates: 
Sat, June 29 – Minneapolis MN @ Rock the Garden
Wed, July 3 – Madison WI @ High Noon Saloon *
Thu, July 4 – Maquoketa IA @ Codfish Hollow Barn *
Fri, July 5 – Omaha NE @ The Sydney *
Sat, July 6 – Denver CO @ Oriental Theater *
Sun, July 7 – Fort Collins, CO @ Surfside 7 *
Tue, July 9 – Kansas City MO @ Riot Room *
Wed, July 10 – Chicago IL @ Lincoln Hall *
Thu, July 11 – Cleveland OH @ Beachland Tavern *
Fri, July 12 – Philadelphia PA @ World Café Live *
Sat, July 13 – Washington DC @ Rock & Roll Hotel *
Sun, July 14 – New York NY @ Le Poisson Rouge “In the Round” *
Mon, July 15 – Cambridge, MA @ The Middle East (Upstairs) *
Tues, July 16 – Buffalo, NY @ 9th Ward At Babeville
Wed, July 17 Grand Rapids, MI @ Pyramid Scheme

* w/ Good Fuck

New Video: The Creepily Cinematic Visuals for Holy Golden’s “Seven of Diamonds”

Comprised of Leslie Schott and Andrew Valenti, the acclaimed indie duo Holy Golden can trace their origins to a serendipitous meeting on Martha’s Vineyard — during a lunar eclipse. As the story goes, Schott decided to take a ferry to the island and happened upon the record store where Valenti was working at the time. After chatting a bit, Valenti wrote down his band’s email address on a business card, gave it to Schott, suggesting that she should come to a show that night. Schott purchased a few CDs and left, assuming that she’d probably never see Valenti again, but as the ferry back to the mainland was about to depart, she ran off the boat and found the show. Since then, Schott and Valenti have traveled back and forth between Martha’s Vineyard and Los Angeles, where they’re currently based, creating mythological, multi-media based mini-worlds through music, music videos, short films and photography. Sonically speaking, the duo have developed a reputation for a sound that blends dream pop and 90s alt rock — while being inspired by their deepest sorrows and brightest fantasies, Maya Deren, David Lynch, Edward Gorey, and the lonely terrain of gilded Americana.

Wallflower Records’ founder Corey Savage signed the duo after catching them play in Houston during their first tour, and the label released their critically applauded full-length debut Wax Castle, an album that was written and recorded in various locations across the country. Building upon a growing profile, The Licking River EP was recorded, produced and mixed at Providence, RI-based Machines With Magnets Studio, and the EP was named by a number of blogs across the blogosphere as one of the top indie EPs of 2017. The duo’s sophomore album, the Steve Rizzo-produced Otherworld was a concept album inspired by a recurring childhood daydream of Schott’s — and it was recorded in a historic ballroom in Newport, RI. Interestingly, the duo frequently record while traveling and as a result, their work is affected by the rapidly changing landscapes, as well as the changing external and internal environment; in fact, they’ve had stints in Los Angeles, Detroit, Rhode Island and Cape Cod. 

Released earlier this year, the duo’s Sleepwalkers in the Milky Way EP will further cement their growing reputation for crafting atmospheric and cinematic dream pop — and while the band’s sound has been described as if Dolly Parton were backed by The xx, their latest single “Seven of Diamonds” to my ears, sounds as though it were influenced by the now-defunct Denver-based act Ending People and the classic 4AD Records heyday roster. In other words you’ll hear an arrangement of shimmering and angular guitar chords, dramatic drumming, a sinuous bass line and a soaring hook paired with Schott’s ethereal and plaintive vocals. 

Directed by Beatrice Pegard, the recently released video for “Seven of Diamonds” is a fever dream that seems influenced by Roger Corman’s Edgar Allen Poe films and the work Dario Argento among others — and as result, it has a palpably tense and uneasy creepiness. 

New Video: Wild Moccasins Release Symbolic Performance-based Visuals for Aching New Single “Longtime Listener”

Earlier this year, I wrote about the Houston, TX-based indie rock/indie pop act Wild Moccasins, and as you may recall, the act which is led by its founding duo Zahira Gutierrez (vocals, keys) and Cody Swann (guitar, vocals), and features Avery Davis (drums) Nicholas Cody (bass) can trace their origins back to 2007 when its founding duo started writing songs together, about a year into their romantic relationship. And although Wild Moccasins has gone through a number of lineup changes throughout its history, the band initially wrote and recorded indie rock-inspired work centered around dance pop-like guitar lines and tight vocal harmonies; however, with the release of 88 92, the Houston-based quartet had begun to increasingly incorporate synths and other New Wave influences into their work — and that has continued with their recently released Ben H. Allen-produced Look Together.

As the members of the band note, Allen inspired a much different approach to their writing and recording process, and the result is an album that finds the band blending the guitar driven elements of their early work with 80s and 90s synth pop and New Wave; but unlike their previously recorded material, the album thematically, lyrically and emotionally is centered around the the volatility, heartache and confusion of the dissolution of a longtime romantic relationship — in the case, the romantic relationship between Gutierrez and Swann. But along with that, the album focuses on the difficulties of repairing a relationship after a breakup, of fresh starts and shedding past insecurities.

As both Gutierrez and Swann note, the breakup of their romantic relationship and its immediate aftermath were extremely difficult as it occurred as the band was in the middle of a lengthy tour. They would spend the countless hours driving from city to city in the tour van in silence; on stage they’d painfully stare each other down; and they’d exchange exaggerated and embittered he-said-she-saids through songs. Although countless bands with a romantic couple at their center have split up, the former lovers decided to choose a way to reconcile their differences by working towards a common musical goal. Songwriting has been engrained within Gutierrez and Swann’s relationship and while being emotionally vulnerable with a former romantic partner was initially difficult, they also found that it helped clear the air between them. “I think we look back on that time and take some comfort in knowing that we went through that together,” says Swann. “It needed to happen in order for us to have this resolve.”“Yeah, it needed to happen,” Gutierrez adds. “Now, when I sing the songs, I find myself breathing a sigh of relief.”

“No Muse,” Look Together’s second single was a slickly produced, shimmering New Wave-like song with an infectious, arena friendly hook — but underneath the self-assuredness of its performance, the song bristles with the bitter and aching hurt of someone who realizes that they’ve been used, and that they’ve had enough of it all. As Gutierrez explains “‘No Muse’ is about feeling like men use women as muses in the wrong context. A lot of women have had the experience of being taken advantage of or had men in power try to take control of what they do, so this song encourages women to be their own muses. Because of what the song represents to me, I decided it was best for me to direct the video and sought out a female cinematographer (Rachel Bays) to shoot it in order to remove any sort of male gaze. I felt it was important to see the video through the eyes of a woman.”

“Longtime Listener,” Look Together’s latest single while being a mid-tempo ballad continues in a similar vein as its predecessor as its centered around a simmering New Wave-like arrangement and soaring hooks; however, emotionally the song focuses on the overwhelming and confusing push and pull of emotions in the immediate aftermath of a longtime breakup, as well as the lingering ghosts of memories, smells and so on. But much like Fleetwood Mac’s “You Can Go Your Own Way,” the song is a bit of a kiss off — in which the song’s narrator is busy putting on a brave face. And while being an aching ballad on what once was and can’t be again, and a bit of a kiss off, there’s the subtle reminder that there was this amazing connection that the narrator once had that’s become part of a messy but well-lived life — and perhaps just as important, that she will move forward and love again.

Directed by the band’s Zahira Gutierrez and Cody Swann, the video begins with Gutierrez sitting impatiently by the phone before answering it. Her bandmates continually hand her phones that she picks up, answers and hangs up and at her most overwhelmed,  Gutierrez and her similarly dressed bandmates go off to perform the song. It’s surreal but it captures the song’s ache and bitterness.