By William Michael Smith
By Jef With One F
By Craig Hlavaty
By Jesse Sendejas Jr.
By Sonya Harvey
By Jesse Sendejas Jr.
By Nathan Smith
By Craig Hlavaty
Best Drummer (Stefanie Friedman)
It's a goddamn shame that these decade-plus veterans don't play live much anymore, especially since their brand of fuzzy, no-frills, three-minutes-is-stretching-it garage rock is riding a new wave of popularity nationally. Last year's record, Spinning Wheels, was also their best effort yet. But the band members all have real lives and day jobs and treat music as a hobby, albeit a serious one. They play for their own pleasure, when and where they want, pure and simple. But the Shackers are also clearly a case study in the benefits of what can happen on stage with all that pent-up energy, letting loose with ferocious, manic performances when they do play. An underrated institution. -- B.R.
Live Sports Cafe, 7 p.m.
Swarm of Angels
Best Indie Rock
Seemingly less a grounded unit than a blurry snapshot in transit, SoA collects erstwhile members of such past glories as Japanic, Pain Teens and Rusted Shut for a simultaneously loose and anxious rock experience. The kinetic debut EP, Plessure, reflects both its creators' track records and present itineraries. On the extracurricular tip, "feather axeman" Domokos Benczedi marks time with (as?) A Pink Cloud, while fellow Angels Nikki Texas and Erika Thrasher's recent self-released Pain Reliever/Titanium seven-inch packs a Plessure-compatible crunch. Should the Swarm ever suffer implosion in the tradition of its root projects, complacency won't be the trigger. -- J.T.
Brewery Tap, 6 p.m.
Recently celebrating their tenth anniversary, these veteran punk rockers (oops, I mean Houston rockers; they don't like the limiting "punk" label...) show no signs of complacency live or in the studio. Last year's Doppler Effectwas something of a watershed for the band's non-nihilistic form of aggressive music. Butch (vocals), Delron and Jason (guitars), Rubio (bass) and a revolving lineup of drummers cover topics ranging from vegans and heroin to deforestation and sk8er bois. They've also named a song after the catalog number for a mail-order crack pipe, which leads one to wonder if John Ashcroft has launched an investigation of the group under the Patriot Act. -- B.R.
Verizon Wireless Theater, 6 p.m.
The line between hard rock raucousness and heavy metal histrionics is thin, but Tin Henry is planted firmly in the former. It isn't subtle and it sure ain't pretty, but that's perfect for the band's rough-hewn, blue-collar, riff-fueled tales of cacophony and cosmic musings. Lyrics -- not a strong point -- are often simply dressing for the pounding instruments and howling vocals. The band also knows pacing: slow, draggy riffs often building into an apocalyptic fury by song's end. Not for the faint of heart, but deliciously brutal nonetheless. -- B.R.
Slainte Irish Pub, 7 p.m.
Best Latin, Best World
Mark Towns, who has been playing guitar since he was ten and is an occasional Presscontributor, has come to be recognized as one of a handful of full-blown guitar maestros in town. In 2000 critics flipped over Towns's debut, Flamenco Jazz Latino. Currently working in Latin jazz and world beat styles, Towns has ridden his lifetime guitar odyssey from Jimi Hendrix to John McGlaughlin to a level where even local jazz greats like Kirk Whalum recognize his style as being at a musical place entirely his own. His music is smart, fun and mesmerizing. -- W.M.S.
Brewery Tap, 8 p.m.
Paul Wall & Chamillionaire
Two of the most talented young lyricists to come out of Houston since Scarface and the Geto Boys first grabbed the mike, these two wordsmiths play off each other like they came straight from hip-hop's heyday, back when chemistry, lyricism and braggadocio meant something beyond how much platinum one can accumulate. Don't get it twisted -- Paul and Cham certainly have platinum chains, and they'll surely let you know about them, but they do it in a much wittier way than any rapper you could name on the scene. -- M.S.
Verizon Wireless Theater, 7 p.m.
Song of the Year ("37 Years"), Best Roots Rock/Rockabilly
Greg Wood has been officially "back" for about a year. The former Horseshoe leader recovered from a near-fatal illness, and he continues to reap the success of his acclaimed 2002 album, Ash Wednesday. Wood's live band includes Eric Dane (of Jimmy's Pawn Shop) and Ken Jones on guitars, bassist Greg Mausser and Bill Myers behind the kit. Contemporary country music and roots-rock rarely deliver the lyrical fist-to-the-gut punch that Wood inflicts, and from the new material he's been debuting live, Wood is still swinging and scoring direct hits. -- T.S.
Mercury Room, 7 p.m.
Nicaraguan-born Yelba plays both sides of the Latin ballad/salsa street. Working with jazz guitarist Mark Towns on her debut CD, Recuerdos, Yelba favors the "Bésame Mucho"-type boleros but easily swings into a salsafied version of "Hotel California" or a Peruvian-tinged "Tamalito." She comes by the stylistic range naturally. Her musical background is a mixed bag that includes Nicaraguan and Peruvian traditional music, Mexican ballads, merengue, light jazz, salsa, classic rock and even a little country-western thrown in for good measure. The result is kind of like Vikki Carr meets Eydie Gorme and Karen Carpenter over at Loretta Lynn's house. Purists cringe, but her fans love her. -- O.F.A.
Mercury Room, 5 p.m.
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