Pick of the Litter
Heartless Bastards (Austin/Cincinnati), The Mountain (Fat Possum)
PR Says: "The record delivers the swamped-up rock howl that fans have always loved - but also brings in this amazing expansion into their sound with pedal steel, mandolin, banjo and strings."
Rocks Off Says: If Cat Power fronted Led Zeppelin, it might sound a lot like The Mountain - indie-rock classic-rock muscle. Rootsier than the trio's previous efforts, The Mountain feels like Erika Wennerstrom's voice has been imported from the '30s on the more acoustic songs, and so do her wistfully Biblical lyrics - midnight trains, wicked suns, pale moonlight, falling down on her knees to pray and so forth. Sturdy and eerie.
Coming Through?: The Bastards tear it up Saturday night at Last Concert Cafe.
Fun Fact: The band appears on The Late Show With David Letterman tomorrow night.
Steve Forbert (Nashville), The Place and the Time: "It is Forbert's deep, slow-as-molasses drawl that first invites the listener into his confidence as he continues a conversation with his fans that began over 30 years ago."
Coming Through?: McGonigel's Mucky Duck, February 27.
Fun Fact: Guest guitarist Reggie Young played on Elvis Presley's "In the Ghetto" and "Suspicious Minds."
Aceyalone (Los Angeles), The Lonely Ones: "The founding member of Freestyle Fellowship returns with an album that draws on Phil Spector, '60s girl groups, the JBs and a slew of raw, dirty funk for sonic inspiration."
Coming Through?: No tour dates listed.
Riverboat Gamblers (Austin), Underneath the Owl: "Those who've seen the Gamblers live have often mistaken Mike Wiebe as the world's longest monkey and are often searching the electrodes that are shocking him during the set."
Coming Through?: March 13, Rudyard's. Duck.
Fun Fact: Download the Gambers' surprisingly poppy single "A Choppy, Yet Sincere Apology" here.
Thursday (North Brunswick, N.J.), Common Existence: "From the cathartic 'As He Climbed the Mountain' (which is probably the first distortion-drenched hardcore song to feature a slide-guitar break) to the stripped-down post-hardcore anthem "Friends in the Armed Forces," Common Existence takes all the elements of the band's previous evolutions and manages to create a cohesive sound all their own."
Coming Through?: Headlining Rockstar Energy Drink's "Taste of Chaos" tour, also with Bring Me the Horizon, Pierce the Veil, Four Year Strong and Cancer Bats. Stops at Verizon Wireless Theater March 21.
Fun Fact: Frontman Geoff Rickly's lyrics were partially inspired by authors Cormac McCarthy, Martin Amis and David Foster Wallace.
If You're Into That Sort of Thing
Missy Higgins (Melbourne, Australia), On a Clear Night: "The opening track, 'Where I Stood,' showcases both the tasteful restraint and the lyrical maturity that are the album's trademarks, while the sass and swagger of Higgins' personal favorite track - "The Wrong Girl" - is clearly the work of a more self-confident songwriter.
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Coming Through?: February 19, House of Blues.
Fun Fact: "Where I Stood" has been featured on several TV shows, including Grey's Anatomy, NCIS, Friday Night Lights and Smallville.