While the sentiment of helping one another may exist heavily all over the music communities of the globe, it really feels like the Houston music community strives hard for their city. For the past week, we’ve seen people step up their game for those affected by Harvey, and the local music scene has really been out full-force doing their part. That’s what Houston’s Miss Champagne Records hopes to do with their compilation Making Waves, which is out today. Featuring some heavy hitters, the 15-track compilation features some brand new tracks from Houston acts with all of the money going to benefit the United Way Relief Fund. The album, devised by Mercy Harper of Football, etc. and Greg Cote, was co-ordinated with Jessica Baldauf while she was stranded in NYC during the flooding of Harvey.
Opening with “Senses” from Dollie Barnes, the chill nature of the track is as calming as you’d like things to be in this turbulent time, while the pace of the song reminds you how solid of a songwriter Barnes is. This is followed by the previously unreleased track, “Doesn’t Really Matter,” from The Wheel Workers. The song, which incorporates all that makes the band so engaging, is like if you took early REM and added a little more pop to the track. Whether or not this is a track off of the upcoming album from the Houston mainstay is yet to be seen, but if it is, it only makes you want the album sooner rather than later. The third track, “Holy Hell,” from Houston’s Cool Moon, is one of their strongest from their latest album. There’s something calming about Andrea Lisi’s vocals on this track that makes this the perfect introduction to the band’s mix of calm and driving melodic sound. The fevered darkness of Houston’s Ruiners comes in afterward on “Dhost,” off of their recently released album. The intensity and the fevered stride of these guys can’t be denied, and if this is your first chance hearing them, then this is a great place to start.
The intense and heavy hardcore of Houston’s Lace follows up with an unreleased track, “Roman Candle.” While I have not only heard their upcoming album, and I even know the title, I can tell you that this song from it should give you an idea of what their upcoming full-length will sound like. A bit more cleaned up than their demo, Lace is going in deep with this track, and its multi-layered sound should give listeners something to look forward to from the punks in the future. This is appropriately followed by the sludge-heavy metal of Omotai on “A Cruel Weight, Thy Wound.” The unreleased track shows the diversity of this doom band over eight minutes as they drop the thick and sludge-heavy riffs you’ve become accustomed to from the band. Football, etc. follows up with “Eleven” from their recently released album, Corner. One of the more upbeat tracks from the already stellar release, this is easily the Houston trio at their strongest. The track and the album both were two of my favorites this year, and the song adds a mix of the band’s emo past coupled with their more indie rock future.
Houston’s Fight Me! offers up an unreleased track with “#1” that really shows the indie rock goodness that these guys can bring to the table. While you may not know this band, this is a great way to get to know them, as the song gives you plenty of fuzzy riffs and melodies to keep your head bopping for days. The Houston/Galveston based indie rock four piece, El Lago, swings on after with the thick and dreamy sounds of “Tentative Threads.” An unreleased song from their upcoming full-length, Colors, the song gives you all of the feels as the vocals mixed with the layered guitar and intricate drum and bass should stick with you deep inside after the first listen. The dark wave electronica of Miears follows up with “Reaching” from her debut EP from earlier this year. The song, which offers Miears’ haunting vocals and synths that sound like a mix of vintage electronics and modern instrumentation, works no matter where you hear it.
Tee Vee adds her trippy synth pop sound with “Echoes” from her recently released Soft Spot EP. There’s something magical about how she adds synth pop and dream pop together in the guise of overall bedroom pop while carving her own catchy identity that’s marked all over this hook-heavy track. The same could be said about Vodi, who finds their single “Talk” on the compilation as well. Someone once told me that Vodi was like War on Drugs meets Reo Speedwagon, and I think that’s a great comparison. This song shows you how chill music can still have rock elements while never getting too heavy, and should show you why Vodi is a band is such high demand. Astragal is also present here with the melodic and dreamlike track “Crescent” off of their recently dropped Split EP with Houston’s Donna Hayward. While Jessica of Miss Champagne introduced me to the three-piece, I can say that I’ve caught the bulk of their local live sets since and they’re easily one of the better new bands in the Houston music scene today.
The dreamy and unbelievably hard to forget song, “Predator,” from Rose Ette, follows. The B-side from the band’s Cassingle from earlier this year might be one of the hardest to shake tracks you’ll hear this year, and the endearing nature of Teresa Vicinanza vocals mixed with the licks makes the song one you should place on repeat. Things get closed off by a home recording from Greg Cote solo, “Home Abroad Part 2.” The DIY champion is in a familiar territory here as he used to perform solo sets before he assembled his backing band. Here he offers up that more stripped down sound that he made the rounds of Houston with several years ago. Cote is an act you might not be familiar with but one you should get acquainted with, as he’s been making the indie rounds for a good while now. This unreleased track is a great way to hear his sound.
The 15-track album with artwork from Kyle McCoy is available today here. While all of the proceeds go to a great cause, look at it as a way to familiarize yourself with some bands you may not know of, while getting some killer debut tracks from some bands you should definitely already know about. No matter what, no one can say that Houston’s music scene isn’t resilient and isn’t ready to step up and help those in need. The artists on these 15 tracks are just a small sampling of a community ready to help one another and rebuild with every note they can play.