Fill in the Blanks With the Tontons

Credit Julie Worsham
The Tontons
The Tontons may be from Houston, but we hear a bit of New York's Blonde Redhead in their music, albeit with a lot more melody, a touch more straightforward rawk (and a lot less hunky Italian twins). Lead singer Asli Omar has severe Solange vibes (a soaring voice, style for days), and when we premiered the band's track "Pony" off their latest album Make Out King and Other Stories of Love back in January, it wormed its way into our heads to such a degree that we legit lost a lot of friends over the fact that we wouldn't stop singing it out loud. It's fine, though.

The Tontons play Rockwood Music Hall (Stage 2) tonight, and so we asked them to play a little game of "Fill in the Blanks" with us, wherein we start a sentence and ask them to finish it. Take a look and check them out tonight. They're only Bun B of UGK's favorite Houston band. You don't need those friends anyway.

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Mastodon's New Album Is "Very Death-Oriented" and Thus Perfect for Summer

Photo by Travis Shinn
Mastodon drummer/lyricist Brann Dailor believes his band's new record, Once More 'Round the Sun, is an "awesome summertime fun-time record. It's seasonal." Because? "All the song titles are very death-oriented." Hmmmm. Surely summer usually means light tunes like Weezer's "Islands in the Sun," "Saturday in the Park" by Chicago or maybe "Summertime Girls" by Y&T? Not in this case. "Not that it couldn't be enjoyed in the winter," he furthers. "But I remember records coming out in the summertime and it's on at every party you go to--we had that mindset when we were putting it all together and deciding which songs were going to sit this one out."

See also: Live: Neurosis and Mastodon Obliterate Faces

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Kyng Are Happy to Outwork You

Eddie Veliz was "born in East LA," the area infamously name checked by Cheech & Chong in song. As Veliz explains in his SoCal vernacular, in his 'hood, kids "were either in a thrash metal band, a super scum punk band, or listening to regional mariachi music. Or maybe a hip-hop kid. We only had (alt radio giant) KROQ, or KLOS, where you'd constantly be listening to 'Jungle Love' by Steve Miller Band." Eddie's inspiration came from further East--Birmingham, England, birthplace of Black Sabbath. So it makes perfect sense that Kyng's musical mantra is "What would Tony Iommi do?" in homage to Sabbath's legendary axeman.

Still, growing up in the musical mecca of Los Angeles provided ample fodder, and actually imbued Veliz with an "I can do better than that" intent once he started hitting the Whisky, Roxy, and Viper Room as a teen in the mid '90s. "I was super-stoked to be there," he remembers, "but I'd see the bands who were playing and they were fucking shitty. They sucked."

See also: The 10 Best Metal Albums of 2013

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Moon Hooch Offer More Sax Than You Can Handle

Wenzl McGowen, a man without a country--but with a saxophone and surfeit of creative musical and ecological ideas--heads up Moon Hooch, a two-sax-and-drum trio who initially came to prominence underground ... as in New York subways. Born in Spain, and living in Austria, Germany, and Portugal, McGowen grew up on a tiny, isolated farm, home-schooled, initially finding his passion as a painter, then playing saxophone (the instrument a legacy from his grandfather) and reading all day. But his band isn't as insular or precious as that early existence might indicate.

See also: The 10 Best Jazz Shows in NYC This Month

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"John Sharkey III Is a Poser and a Skinhead" - You in the Comments, Probably

Dark Blue's 7"
The first music I became heavily obsessed with as a young man was first and second wave British punk rock and Oi! In the mid-90's, It was the en vogue punk of the day and I immersed myself in the world of boots, bondage pants, painted and studded leather jackets, and knox gelatin'd spiked hair with little resistance. Every weekend our mob would cram into West Philadelphia venues to see bands ape this style with excellent-to-poor execution. Groups like Blanks '77, Wretched Ones, Violent Society, Showcase Showdown etc. Like I said; some good, some shit. Going to see these bands really exposed me to the greater, older bands that they were completely ripping off.

I feel now that I'm a bit older and have gained a bit of perspective that it was time to start ripping these bands off, as well. That's basically what I'm trying to do with my new project Dark Blue. Here I've listed some of my favorite songs of the period. It basically reads like any number of compilations that I overpaid for as a child. Not digging too deep here but that's really not the point. Enjoy.

John Sharkey III's Dark Blue perform tonight at St. Vitus.

See also: Has John Sharkey III Toned Down His GG Allin-Meets-Don Rickles Act?

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Band of Skulls: "You're Not Selling Out ... It's a Way to Survive"

Band of Skulls
Cool enough for hipsters, heavy enough for metal heads, smart enough for muso snobs, Band of Skulls succeed in striking that oft-elusive aural sweet spot for fans of all stripes....including the folks at the mayonnaise-alternative Miracle Whip, who use a crunchy riff from the band's 2012 song "The Devil Takes Care Of His Own" to push their creamy concoction.

Bassist/singer Emma Richardson laughs. "Soundtracks, commercials... it helps fund the band to do what we need to do, and sometimes it's the best way to get your music heard by loads of people," she observes. "Times have changed. Adverts aren't sneered at anymore. You're not selling out--it's a way to survive, as people aren't buying records anymore."

See also: The 10 Best Metal Albums of 2013

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Deafheaven: "Genre-Mixing Was Definitely a Goal"

Reid Haithcock
Some names tell you all you need to know about a band: Slayer. Dee-Lite. Metallica. Pearl Jam, eh, not so much. But Deafheaven? Definitely. Black metal (Deaf) + heaven (shoe gaze) = a slew of critical acclaim and year-end "best of" nods for the band's 2013 Sunbather, their second LP since forming in 2010.

See also: The 10 Best Metal Albums of 2013

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North Mississippi Allstars' "A-Ha" Moment

North Mississippi Allstars
The 11.4 square miles of Hernando, Mississippi has seen its fair share of talented musicians, including Jerry Lee Lewis, and guitar pioneer Paul Burlison. In more recent years, though, a younger, but no less prolific musician calls the town home: Drummer and renaissance man Cody Dickinson, who along with his singer-guitarist brother Luther, is two-thirds of the revved-up blues band that's the North Mississippi Allstars (rounded out by bassist Chris Chew).

In the last 13 years they've put out nine albums, including the just-released World Boogie is Coming. Like the band themselves, it's a record that boasts an impressive legacy. The title comes from the brothers' late father, Jim Dickinson, whose credits include producing Big Star and the Replacements, among many others, as well as playing piano on the Stones' "Wild Horses."

See also: A Replacements Doc With No Replacements Music: Color Me Obsessed

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Lifestyle Envy: Donavon Frankenreiter Lives Large and Not-So-in-Charge in Hawaii

Donavon Frankenreiter
Looking like a young Jim Croce with a dash of Owen Wilson if he were a Williamsburg hipster, Donavon Frankenreiter's brand of positive mellow-pop clearly evinces his roots. Which, of course, are West Coast. Way West, as in Hawaii, six hours and a lifetime away from the high-rise, high-noise delirium of New York City.

That said, definitively urban gigs don't generally affect the singer-songwriter's mellow mindset, though he says, "I've had some great sessions surfing around New York before shows, and that always helps out for an amazing day and a way to ease into any show."

Donavon Frankenreiter plays the Brooklyn Bowl Wed., August 14.

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Star & Dagger Will Drink to That (...and That ... and That ... and That Too)

Leslie Van Stelten
Forget Thelma & Louise: Star & Dagger are the ladies you really want to take a road trip with. Only, though, if booze, blues and shenanigans in copious amounts are your thing. Or, as guitarist Dava She Wolf (Cycle Sluts From Hell) elucidates her band's appeal: "A subwoofer's cauldron forged by functional alcoholism, pharmaceutical voyage and junk drawer hallucinogens, all under a heavy contraband haze that hangs low enough to embrace the Almighty Downtrodden so they can revel in it."

Yeah, pretty much. Star & Dagger, rounded out by Sean Yseult (White Zombie) and newcomer/old soul vocalist Von Hesseling, are whisky rock-a-rollers. On their irresistible 10-song debut, Tomorrowland Blues, the swampy, sometimes-metallic tunes include the edgy, honky-tonkin' foot-stomper "Your Mama Was A Grifter," and "Before It's a Crime," whose ominous low-fi bass rumblings support lyrics such as: "...So you killed a few men in your time... can't execute you before it's a crime."

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