New year holds promise for H-town music scene

January 17, 2018 GMT

John Allen Stephens is working on “maximalist modern pop.” Jazz diva Tianna Hall is putting her sultry spin on the music of Whitesnake and Debbie Gibson. Giant Kitty is revving up punk anthems. Kam Franklin of The Suffers is covering nu metal favorites.

Welcome to Houston music in 2018.

We’re just into the new year, and already, a flurry of local acts are readying fresh music to carry us through the next several months. There’s lots of rock and hip-hop, of course. But pop, Tejano and jazz are also on tap - along with a few sounds you’ve likely never heard.

Here’s a rundown of 18 of the city’s most anticipated releases.

“It’s A Different World”

Londale: A new EP from the band described as “a cross between Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, REM and Glenn Frey” on its website. They’ll celebrate the new music at 1 p.m. Saturday with an in-store event at Cactus Music, 2110 Portsmouth.


Giant Kitty: Punk, hard rock and New Wave collide on Giant Kitty’s sophomore album, which includes songs about everything from annoying friends and a Geo Metro to domestic violence and politics. It features narration by Kelly Hogan, known for her work with Neko Case, and a collaboration with rapper Fat Tony.

Release date: Jan. 26

“Big Little Brother”

Rocky Banks: The rapper, who went to Bellaire High School, drops a new album featuring tracks “Tony Hawk,” Big Boy” and “Dopeman.”

Release date: Feb. 5, followed by a Feb. 24, event at The Secret Group, 2101 Polk

“Nu Metals”

Kam Franklin: The Suffers lead singer has already previewed this EP of electronic rock covers with takes on tunes from Deftones and A Perfect Circle. It will also feature songs from Korn and Godsmack.

Release date: Feb. 9

“Into the Night”

Paperwolf: Teenage rock band, which won the 2017 Rodeo Rockstar competition, tries its hand at originals on this six-song EP. Expect wailing vocals and tight instrumentation, with a nod to classic rock.

Release date: Feb. 17, with a release party at Walter’s, 1120 Naylor.


Without a Face: The first new music since 2013 for singer-songwriter Without a Face is a rap song and will include a video. It previews more new music this year.

Release date: February


Secret Sands: Electronic duo Eric Castillo and Damon Allen’s four-song EP features synthesizer compositions with guitars and vocals. They describe it as “a blend of shoegaze, krautrock, house music, psychedelia and outsider electronics.

Release date: February

“After You”

Arthur Yoria: The bilingual singer-songwriter is a longtime Houston favorite. He’ll celebrate the new album on Splice Records with a release event at McGonigel’s Mucky Duck, 2425 Norfolk.

Release date: March 31

“Mada Mada Dane”

Guilla: One of the city’s most engaging acts, Guilla follows up 2016′s terrific “Children of the Sun” with a project that chronicles the past two years of his life, including romantic relationships and his inability to settle for societal norms. It includes collaborations with Miears, Jose Gorbea, T2 the Ghetto Hippie and Sobe Lash on first single “Sorry.”

Release date: March


Wade in the Sonic Joy: A new mixtape from this “witch pop” act will touch on R&B, pop, electronic and more. It features production by Brandon Duhon of Night Drive, KRRRBY, drag performer Ondi and singer-songwriter ATTXLA.

Release date: March

“Own It”

Ashley Toman: The pop/R&B belter dropped the title track in October 2016 as her debut single. She’s finally following it up as part of “my journey to owning who I am and loving myself.” Listen for some country and rock in the mix, too.

Release date: March

“Deja Vu Vol. 1 & 2”

Paulina Sjoberg: Ten songs from the soulful singer-songwriter, including one she promises will be a citywide anthem.

Release date: March


XAV-R: The alternative R&B artist unveils an EP before he moves to Los Angeles. It’s “inspired by all of the emotions we are feeling in this world today: tragedy, love, sorrow and triumphs.” He likens it to the work of Sabrina Claudio, Banks and Frank Ocean.

Release date: April 13


Sandy G y Los Gavilanes: A new cumbia from the co-ed Tejano act, following up the recently issued “Prohibido.”

Release date: Spring

“Leaving Halle” and “Have My Love”

Sheila Swift: The pop singer-songwriter is launching a pair of singles this year - one sweet (“Leaving Halle”) and one saucy (“Have My Love”).

Release date: Spring/summer


John Allen Stephens: The first solo album from Stephens since the breakup of New York City Queens is a 10-song set “that juxtaposes themes of addiction, self loathing, apathy, love, life and death against a backdrop of maximalist modern pop productions.” In other words, it’s ridiculously catchy. With vocal assists from Daniela Hernandez, Teresa Vicinanza and Kitty Beebe.

Release date: Spring

“The Mighty Pretty Mixtape”

Tianna Hall: Jazz takes on “hits of the cassette era,” including those by acts like Madonna, INXS, George Michael, Bobby Brown, Whitesnake, Bel Biv Devoe and Debbie Gibson. Cannot wait for this one.

Release date: July

“Hanging On”

Miears: A new EP is “three-fourths” of the way done from electro-pop act Miears. The album art is finished and first video has been shot. She calls it “a synth-laden pop soundscape filled with ethereal vocals and melodies. It focuses heavily on my inability to move beyond some events in my past that have made it hard to allow myself to be happy in the present.”

Release date: Late summer or early fall