If you take your music seriously, you know great music isn’t easy to find in Houston’s commercial radio market.
You can sit back and passively consume what the music industry establishment gives you, or you can march to the beat of a different drummer and actively feed your desire for better, more diverse music. The songs below may have initially escaped your notice. However, they’re available now for your listening enjoyment. Consider this a public service for music fans in an effort to fill the void left by commercial radio.
These aren’t all new tunes, but maybe they will be new to you if you rely on the commercial radio gatekeepers for your music supply.
Click on the links below to hear each song in its entirety.
- Ology – The Black Math Experiment
This playful song was released in 2006 by the Houston based alternative pop band The Black Math Experiment. It makes math fun again. Okay, maybe not “again,” but it makes math fun at least while you’re listening to this song.
“God is the center of the universe
A super intelligent purple
Purple is the red from the green’s point of view
From here we can see that…”
- Grandpa’s Interview – Neil Young and Crazy Horse
This song, released in 2003, is a self-contained narrative within the larger narrative of the album “Greendale.” Musically, this tune is like a long effective massage, with its hypnotic guitar and percussion which draw you into the tale being intricately woven by a great storyteller. Lyrically, it spins a story of a colorful family of characters you may feel you already know. As an added layer, “Grandpa’s Interview” takes some critical jabs at what has become the sensationalized TV news media culture.
“It ain’t an honor to be on TV.
It ain’t a duty either.
The only good thing about TV
is shows like ‘Leave it to Beaver.’
Shows with love and affection,
Like Mama used to say
A little Mayberry living
Can go a long way.”
- The Ballad of Dennis Hopper and Harry Dean – Farm Dogs
They may not have had top billing throughout their film careers, but Dennis Hopper and Harry Dean Stanton get it here. This song, released in 1996, is a well deserved, long overdue musical tribute reel for two of the most underrated rebel/outlaw cinema legends of all time. The band Farm Dogs which includes Bernie Taupin, former songwriting collaborator of Elton John, provides a who’s who musical resume for the two film icons.
“And while money and crap go hand in hand
And bigger is better is the law of the land
There’s still some men with guts and roots
Who can sniff out a weasel in a three-piece suit”
- Drunken Angel – Lucinda Williams
This ode to a lost musician was released in 1998. It’s about a song writing friend of Williams named Blaze Foley. Foley died after being shot during a senseless argument. Despite the circumstances surrounding Foley’s demise, the vivid imagery of this song conjures up the many musicians who have been consumed by the trappings of the music business and the fame that can come with it.
“Some kind of savior singing the blues
A derelict in your duct tape shoes
Your orphan clothes and your long dark hair
Looking like you didn’t care, drunken angel
Blood spilled out from the hole in your heart
Over the strings of your guitar
The worn down places in the wood
The ones that made you feel so good“
- Shivers – Divine Fits
Former members of the bands Spoon, Wolf Parade, Handsome Furs, and New Bomb Turks formed the band Divine Fits and released this song in 2012. “Shivers” is an uneasy, but likeable rock and roll tune that exposes the toll taken by remaining in an unhealthy relationship when all logical signs suggest ending it.
“And my baby’s so vain
She’s almost a mirror
And the sound of her name
Sends a permanent shiver
Down my spine”
If you like the songs above, share them with your friends. If these songs aren’t what you‘re looking for, maybe they will spark a fire in you to find music you like better.
If you want to explore the uncharted musical terrain, there are more than enough resources available to satisfy even the most discriminating and eclectic musical tastes. As a starting point, there’s listener sponsored radio like KPFT 90.1 FM here in Houston. This means no advertisers and no corporate influence on the playlists – only music picked by people in the local community for the people in the local community. There’s listener sponsored Internet radio like radioparadise.com, a free global platform of diverse music. There’s also the ubiquitous YouTube where you can find almost any music from popular bands to unsigned bands not even on the radar. Regardless of where you search for great music, remember to share your discoveries with others. Music is better when it’s shared, so always play it forward.
Enjoy this article? Receive e-mail alerts when new articles by Bob Langham are available. Just click on the “Subscribe” button above.