Houston Music Chooses 2022’s Best Albums
Houston’s music underdogs, we featured them in 2022 for their best album picks of 2022. It’s a list that might bring you back to some music you missed last year, and a list that serves as a reminder of the stories we’ve done about these artists. Best of all, it details the plans they have for 2023. Please enjoy.
ABRY, Amelia Moore Teaches a Robot to Love (additional data)
We featured Houston pop vocalist ABRY in October on the release of her single “Panic.” In 2023, she’s planning a full-on drop of her alternative, electronic pop. She said she’s been rehearsing and singing a lot to prepare for a Jan. 12 show at the Big Top Lounge.
“I’m excited to play there, I haven’t even been there before so I’m excited to watch,” she said. “I have RINAS, who is an up and coming alternative pop act, and then Max Diaz, who is also alternative, opening for me. I’m really excited for their sets as well. I’ll be playing a lot unreleased stuff, all my music released as well. It’s going to be great. I hope a lot of people who just haven’t heard of me will be there. It’s always fun to see people’s reactions in real time to music, especially if it’s not published yet, because you know instantly “people like it, people don’t”.
ABRY’s MO has been to release singles periodically, but in 2023 she has decided to release a full album sometime around spring.
“It’s always so hard because you have to let the song go. When you upload it to the distribution site, you’re like, ‘Okay, I think this is it.'” I want to be really intentional about (2023), just make sure I don’t feel pressured to take things off if I’m not ready and just make sure I’m enjoying the process but also doing it, you know what I mean? Don’t be afraid and just do it do it.”
She said she was a bit undecided in choosing her album of the year, citing SZA’s new album and the work of Rosalía, Fletcher and one of her all-time favourites, Charli XCX, as standouts. In the end, she chose an artist with whom she has little in common named Amelia Moore.
“I was actually kind of nervous about picking one — you know, I’m a Gemini so it’s hard for me to make a decision. I don’t even know if I have a favorite color,” she laughed. “I’ve been listening to a lot of music throughout the year and I’ve been inspired by so many artists, but I think I want to take this opportunity to promote an underdog like me more. She’s definitely bigger than me, but not on the level of some. .the other albums I was listening to.
“She’s a young pop artist, recently signed to Capitol and released her debut work called Teaching a Robot to Love (Additional Data). I love this piece of work number one because it’s a concept album and I’ I’m always a stickler for any concept work because I know it takes a lot more thought and intent to create it.
“Another thing about her — vocally she’s really fearless,” she continued. “It starts off really simple in terms of the production and her vocals and then before you know it, you get to the chorus and it’s huge, it’s anthemic, it’s breathtaking. It starts off more like this bedroom pop vibe and then it goes into this different space that you wouldn’t expect from a young artist.
“She wasn’t afraid to take risks with her voice, with her visuals, with her production choices,” ABRY said. “Her voice is so unique. Even though she could sing on anything, it’s also interesting to hear that this music is so personal to her. The production was in a league of its own, her vocals, everything is with her really as good as it could have been. She deserves so much more recognition than she has, she’s so underrated.”
ABRY headlines Big Top Lounge 9pm Thursday 12th January. $10.
Vaughn Chung, Awaiting Spill from The Backseat Lovers
“I actually have an album that I’ve been listening to a lot lately. I had a lot of stuff that I liked this year, but the one I connected with the most I’d say is from this band called The Backseat Lovers. The album is called Waiting to Spill. This has been my favorite album so far. It came out not too long ago actually, October 28 was the release date,” said Chung, whose band Paper Gliders performed here in November.
“They’re an indie band from Utah. They’ve been making noise for the last couple of years and the album has a lot of different influences on it. Like I definitely listen to Radiohead and I listen to a lot of folk artists out there. There’s a lot of different things going on in this album and it’s done really well because there are a lot of bands that have tried to emulate those artists, like Radiohead. But it’s done in a way where it feels like it’s 2022 and it’s their take on a lot of different things and I feel like it’s a more mature sound coming from them from the first album, which was more raw and kind of a bit math rock-y and more traditional indie rock.
“More than anything, it takes me to a place. When I listen to it, I go, ‘I’ve got to finish this album from start to finish.’
Another thing Chung appreciated about the album is that it seems to be a complete work of art rather than algorithm-based music, “stuff that people can sit down and be patient and really absorb and get a taste of the musicians and artists behind it. That’s my thought process and that’s why this is my favorite.”
This innovative thinking will be essential to the approach the veteran Houston band takes to the music business in 2023. The band plans to showcase its latest efforts via Patreon and build on the momentum it gained by returning to live shows in passed. Chung is inspired by bands like The Backseat Lovers, who will be performing at Houston’s Bayou Music Center in May.
“I think they’re doing really important things, especially for the genre. I personally have felt that indie rock has felt stagnant for some time. Maybe a lot of other artists feel this way too in general, it’s just that so much of the art has felt like it’s all been made to fit into some kind of specific program for people to digest. I guess there’s something to be said for us reclaiming it.
“I just feel like people are tired of being hand-held and curated at every microscopic level. I think people need to be challenged again, and people want to be challenged.”
SEROTONIN, Ignorant Genius by Ishgenius
“You know what’s crazy, I listen to a lot of music but I can’t stop listening to my friends’ music. I’ll be so excited when my friends drop songs,” said SEROTONIN, the Houston indie rapper/fashion designer we featured last month.
The 24-year-old phenomenon loves music very much. He named Horseshit on Route 66 by The Garden as a 2022 favorite.
“My punk friends in So-Cal. “I honestly haven’t stopped listening to that thing since it came out,” he said.
SEROTONIN also has a healthy respect for Houston artists. His mother was a Houston artist, and he remembers being close to Destiny’s Child when he was young. When it comes down to it, he said, his 2022 album is from Houston’s own Ishgenius.
“I’m going to be honest because, oh my God, I’m going to have to say Ish’s album, man. Being a friend of his, he’s been working on this for a really long time, you know? the process, to know what it took to surface, that’s really it.
“It’s a lot of music out there, but it’s from artists who’ve already been given their flowers, you know? I can give them their flowers again right this moment, which they will receive from millions of people. People like Ish, man, you can hear it in his verses and lyrics, he really has a picture to paint. And I as an artist, as a creator, I will look for those little details and those brushstrokes. Him and Kanaki, the ignorant genius, have to be that for me, man, especially from Houston.”
Warehouse Live hosts Crisis of the Quarter: An Ishgenius Birthday Bash on Friday, January 13, in its green room. All ages, doors at 8 p.m., $15.
Alberta Zemyra, The Poserz’s All It Ever Was
The Houston model, singer, actor and journalist is also one of the head honchos at House of J, the venue east of downtown that has built a strong following and was last featured here in September. Last year, Zemyra was hired by iHeartMedia, and her love of punk and metal is proving useful for her involvement with 94.5 FM The Buzz, where she’s done video interviews with bands like San Antonio’s Fea, urban legends H 30footFALL and Codefendants, a new. set featuring hip hop music Ceschi, Get Dead’s Sam King and NOFX’s Fat Mike.
“I’ve found a way to basically bring all three things together, being like my personal brand as a talent,” she said. “I kind of snowballed everything.” An iHeartMedia executive described Zemyra’s appeal best by saying he was intrigued by “someone who takes runway models and gets into mosh pits.”
She said that House of J just had their first house meeting of the year. The house is fielding booking requests for 2023 from local and touring acts, for shows big and small, from its regular free AF showcase to its flagship event, J Fest. She will expand her media output in 2023. Something completely new on the horizon is a fashion show Zemyra and Lagrima vocalist Jazzmin Readeaux are planning. The projected date for that show is March 11.
“It’s basically like a femme fest, any female who identifies, anyone who’s part of the LGBTQIA+ community, who wants to put on a full one-day mini-fest,” she said. “It’s basically trying to start a drag show, doing something completely different on stage.”
Anger is destined to take over Houston with these multiple efforts. She has a cooking channel called “Punks Eat Well” in pre-production. She is a fitness enthusiast who wants to incorporate that part of her life into House of J’s programming through free boot camps.
“I don’t understand why I should charge people to be healthy, especially if I love and I love these people. So I want to give back. And, you don’t have to give up your lifestyle. If you want to keep partying, you don’t have to stop, but it’s better to at least moderate it and start focusing on maybe longevity in the pit,” she said. “I see them all huffing and puffing after half a song and I’m like, ‘Okay, these guys need to work out!’
The soundtrack to a vigorous workout could be her 2022 album pick from one of Houston’s.
“I’d have to say The Poserz All It Ever Was,” she chose. “Poserz has crazy energy that’s way ahead of its time. Meaning if they were a band in the 90’s they would probably have such a progressive sound like Poserz do.
“They are very original in the sense that they are a progressive thrash metal band. They can freak you out and make you want to punch anyone near you and I appreciate that. That album calms my road rage, it’s really good.”