Shows of the Week: Danish Dr. Dre Lovers, Now Grammy Contenders
Photo by Danny Clinch/Courtesy of Warner Bros. Records
House of Blues, January 12
Rather than a person, Lucas Graham is a Danish band fronted by Lukas Forchhammer, a Copenhagen Boys Choir alumnus whose horizons were broadened, as the story goes, by Dr. Dre’s 2001 album. After working the proper European channels, the group’s hit “Drunk In the Morning” helped secure an American deal with Warner Bros., which in turn released their eponymous LP in late 2015. It wasn’t long before a hit single, the piano-tinged, autobiographical “7 Years,” climbed to No. 2 on the Billboard Hot 100. An even more relevant reflection of its popularity might be the 225 million Spotify streams it received in just one month (March 2016), more than enough to send these burgeoning pop stars spinning down the promotional chute. Mariah Carey stole all the headlines, but Lukas Graham also appeared on Dick Clark’s Rockin’ New Year’s Eve last month, celebrating their two Grammy nominations for “7 Years” out of three overall.
THE BAYOU SAINTS
Continental Club, January 12
Not to be mistaken for the semi-defunct Houston rockers of the same name — although that would make an exciting, if confusing, double bill sometime — New Orleans’ The Bayou Saints have recently been branching out into other Gulf Coast markets with a sound that upends a few notions of what a group from their hallowed hometown is “supposed” to sound like. Although the handful of tracks the Saints have put on their Soundcloud page does include a cover of “Iko Iko” (hard to resist, surely), more instructive still are originals like “Bent But Not Broken” or “Hey Baby,” which mingle acoustic coffeehouse jazz with humid blues-rock thanks to the dynamic songwriting axis of Matt Clark and Arséne DeLay. While you’re over there, check out their sparkling version of Coldplay’s “The Scientist” too.
White Oak Music Hall, January 13
Of the many musical children of Beck (or is that Drake?) out there nowadays, Brad Petering is definitely one worth paying attention to. The L.A.-based musician who calls himself TV Girl is one of those polymaths fluent in the language of 21st-century production alchemy, someone who can easily translate hothouse keyboards, indie-pop noodling, hip-hop beats and abundant sampling into woozy electronica jams perfect for the chillout room and occasionally the dance floor. Although songs like “Safe Word” aren’t quite as light-hearted, the sardonic observational humor Petering displays throughout 2016 Bandcamp release Who Really Cares is a real bonus on songs like “Taking What’s Not Yours” and “Song About Me,” the latter of which details how annoying it is when your ex puts you in a song. That’s just about the worst. With Children of Pop, JERK and Poppet.
THE DEVIL MAKES THREE
White Oak Music Hall, January 14
After 2013’s Buddy Miller-produced I’m a Stranger Here established a new high-water mark for the Santa Cruz trio’s contemporary spin on old-timey string-band music, The Devil Makes Three opted to shed a little light on their back pages. The result is Redemption & Ruin (New West), a sort of hellfire-and-brimstone sermon in two acts by way of a covers album. Muddy Waters (“Champagne and Reefer”) and Texans Willie Nelson (“I Gotta Get Drunk”), Kris Kristofferson (“Chase the Feeling”) and Townes Van Zandt (“Waitin’ Around to Die”) speak up for the sinners; while the Stanley Brothers (“I Am the Man, Thomas”), Tom Waits (“Come On Up to the House”) and Hank Williams Jr. (“The Angel of Death”) come down on the side of the angels. Some of the finest singers and players in all of Americana stop by — Emmylou Harris, Duane Eddy, Jerry Douglas, Darrell Scott, Tim O’Brien — raising even more goosebumps on this rollicking, spooky, spiritually cleansing album. With Lost Dog Street Band and Ditraini Brothers.
ILLICIT RELATIONSHIP, AK'CHAMEL
Civic TV Laboratories (2010 Commerce Unit B), January 14
Between the Nurse With Wound-ministered psychedelia of Illicit Relationship and the costumed shamanic comedy of AK’Chamel, whose recent Transmissions From Boshqa contains the imprimatur of the Sun City Girls’ Alan Bishop himself, this lineup contains at least 30 years of rendered ear lard, unclarified sonic ghee and slime in the ice machine, all in the proudest Houston tradition. Kai/Ros’s druidic drones are steeped in future pastoralism and conducted through a Sanford & Son-looking assemblage of homemade instruments. Astrogenic Hallucinauting have long alternated between cymbal-generated ruckus a la Chicago’s Z’EV and an oblique pulsar techno. Electric Sleep combines a dollop of harsh noise to an industrial hoo-haw. Kooky bills like this used to happen almost as often as black T-shirt day at the laundromat, but nowadays such showdowns between Houston’s most zoned-out astral cranks are a little fewer and farther between. Here’s to many more to come. TEX KERSCHEN
Smart Financial Centre at Sugar Land, January 15
The Eagles ended 2016 with a salute from President Obama at the Kennedy Center Honors, but started it off by losing founder and co-pilot Glenn Frey in January, meaning Don Henley is a full-fledged solo artist for the first time in more than 20 years — and most likely for good this time. Luckily the 69-year-old singer, songwriter and of course drummer is coming off arguably his finest solo album to date, 2015’s Cass County. A bittersweet, stunningly beautiful reconsideration of his native East Texas environs, Henley tempers the hard-bitten wisdom of encroaching old age with an even deeper affinity for classic country music. With J.D. & the Straight Shot.
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