Shows of the Week: Innovative Hip-Hop Soul Producer With Razor-Sharp Lyrics
Photo by Antoine Lyers/Courtesy of Shore Fire Media
Walter’s Downtown, April 26
Oddisee's music is in ways introverted and cerebral. The D.C.-based producer weaves innovative hip-hop soul aesthetics with the politics of everyday life, tackling issues like wage inequality, whiteness and police brutality with genre-spanning aplomb. Each trenchant lyric slices like a razor: hard to notice at first, but with a cut that runs deep and lasts for days. While Oddisee has been grinding out albums for the better part of a decade, his latest effort, The Iceberg, is a welcome consummation of his multi-instrumental approach to music and a thoroughly enjoyable listen. Songs like "Hold It Back" and "Like Really" exemplify his love for creative beats blended with horns and piano. The music is a somewhat strange choice for the concrete, gutter-punk venue Walter's, but the odd pairing will likely make for a refreshing concert experience worth seeing. KATIE SULLIVAN
COHEED AND CAMBRIA
House of Blues, April 27
Named for the protagonists in the comics of the same name, Coheed and Cambria blend progressive rock with riveting narration. Most of the band’s catalog is set in the Amory Wars universe, which parallels a series of comic books penned by vocalist Claudio Sanchez in which the titular characters fight for Heaven’s Fence and the 78 planets it contains. Both as a marketing tactic for Sanchez’s graphic novels and as a standalone outfit, Coheed and Cambria – the band – has been wildly successful. Their most successful album to date, 2005’s Good Apollo, I’m Burning Star, Volume One: From Fear Through the Eyes of Madness, moved nearly 1 million units; their latest, 2015’s The Color Before the Sun, marked the band’s first record unaffiliated with the Amory Wars story line. Nonetheless, Sanchez’s heartfelt songwriting coupled with the band’s strong musicianship was well-received, and may have opened the door for new fans not as intrigued by (or entrenched in) the Amory Wars universe. MATTHEW KEEVER
Dosey Doe, April 27
Brandy Clark is the kind of artist whose fans can’t believe she’s not a bigger star. Not that she hasn’t been successful, with six Grammy nominations and media attention from the likes of CMT and CBS This Morning, just that she’s the kind of artist publicists still tout as “one of Nashville’s best-kept secrets.” Her lack of a breakthrough that would put her on the same level as Miranda Lambert (Clark wrote “Mama’s Broken Heart”) or Kacey Musgraves (she co-wrote “Follow Your Arrow”) either comes down to politics or the fact that her songs are cliché-free and more often than not a little sad, loaded with fine-grained details and instantly recognizable characters. If that makes them a little too idiosyncratic for commercial radio, the 41-year-old Washington State native’s two most recent albums, 2013’s 12 Stories and last year’s Big Day In a Small Town, are both steeped in hummable choruses and memorable lines all the same. With Charlie Worsham.
McGonigel’s Mucky Duck, April 28
Without much debate, Bruce Robison is considered at the very top of the pecking order of contemporary Texas songwriters, capable of James Taylor levels of wit and empathy within the aesthetic territory generally staked out by Merle Haggard. Over the years he’s earned plenty of mailbox money for songs that later made their way into the mouths of big-time stars like Tim McGraw and George Strait, but Robison’s heart seems much closer to the no-frills Americana he often makes with wife Kelly Willis or the cast of musicians featured on his latest album, Bruce Robison & the Back Porch Band. Radiating the collaborative spirit of The Next Waltz, Robison’s term for the community centered around his recording studio/base of operations in Lockhart, the album mixes songs he wrote or co-wrote with a few he just likes (the Who’s “Squeezebox,” George Jones’s “Still Doin’ Time”), creating the kind of laid-back atmosphere that allows Robison and his fellow musicians to thrive.
Revention Music Center, April 29
PJ Harvey hasn't toured America in five years, nor stopped in Houston since 2001. Now supporting her Grammy-nominated The Hope Six Demolition Project, Harvey will be performing at least 20 songs a night, according to setlist.fm. For the young folks out there who may be unfamiliar with her contribution to '90s music, know this: Her work can’t be overstated. She’s the UK’s most creative songstress to combine punk, blues, grunge and folk — and do so beautifully. A night with her won’t be soon forgotten. Harvey is touring with a ten-piece band (as she’s previously done), so you know she means business. KRISTY LOYE
House of Blues, April 29
Many a headline about Aaron Yates will involve a report about his business acumen. Four years ago, Forbes described him as "Hip-Hop's Secret Mogul," a magnet from Kansas City, Missouri, whose in-house operation has generated millions of dollars with as low a profile as possible. The irony in that is that Tech N9ne is by far a literal weapon onstage. To him, music can be thrown left and right like a harpoon from Aquaman. All Tech N9ne does is perform all over the country with his elongated beard dipped in any hue of red, engage fans at the merchandise booth and move on to the next city. His Strictly Strange 17 tour doesn't appear to be any different from any other Tech N9ne tour of the past few years. It just remains rooted in consistency and pure energy. Last year, The Storm, the follow-up album to his 1999 debut, landed at No. 12 on the Billboard 200. It may very well be the most eclectic album released in the past few months. Where else can you unite Jonathan Davis of Korn and Boyz II Men and have it not be a marriage of nu-metal and prom songs? Only Tech N9ne can. Only someone as Strange as he could. BRANDON CALDWELL
White Oak Music Hall, April 30
The Pixies learned early on that a catchy tune will cover up a multitude of transgressions, namely the twisted lyrics and whacked-out riffs flowing almost nonstop from singer Black Francis and guitarist Joey Santiago, respectively. Drummer David Lovering, meanwhile, keeps the band firmly rooted in both reality and rock and roll. From the mid-’80s on, the Pixies have influenced pretty much every band to pick up a couple of guitars, practically trademarking the kind of sullen yet sprightly energy that even they couldn’t sustain at times, hence the decadelong split before their 2004 reunion. More recently, they’ve had to process the departure of founding bassist and fan favorite Kim Deal, whose springy bass lines and come-hither vocals gave the band much of their pop appeal. Almost miraculously, though, Deal’s replacement Paz Lenchantin (A Perfect Circle, Zwan) failed to upset the Pixies’ delicate chemistry on their most recent album, 2015’s Head Carrier, an indication they made the right choice. With Public Access TV.
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