Shows of the Week: Robert Ellis Continues Rearranging His Sound
Photo by Dusdin Condren/Courtesy of New West Records
Discovery Green, June 2
The result of two solid years of nearly nonstop touring — 300 shows a year, give or take — Robert Ellis' new eponymous LP, his third for New West, is both a natural extension of 2014's The Lights From the Chemical Plant and a demonstration of how much he continues to grow as an artist. Musically, Robert Ellis draws concentric circles around the simple country/folk of 2011's Photographs and self-released 2009 debut The Great Re-Arranger, adding layers of jazz and richly arranged orchestral pop without disturbing the core. By the same token, Ellis has sharpened his observational skills to the point where third-person songs such as “Amanda Jane” are as vividly rendered as the ones that feel more personal, like “Elephant,” “It's Not OK,” and “How I Love You” — a real lump-raiser where Ellis roams Houston's completely deserted streets in the song's striking video. With Tom Brosseau.
Warehouse Live, June 3
Freshly anointed winners of the ACMs' New Vocal Duo/Group of the Year and owners of the recent Top 5 single “Snapback,” Old Dominion offers a wittier yet still fun-loving alternative to the likes of Florida Georgia Line. By turning on the charm on tunes like “Said Nobody,” “Half Empty” and “Break Up With Him,” Old Dominion employ their Urban Dictionary vocabulary to come off like the smooth talkers who swoop in to dance with the ladies (and maybe even take them home) whose douchey boyfriends are too wrapped up in the game to notice them. That light touch also applies to the music, seasoning 2015 debut Meat and Candy with enough pop, R&B, and lite-rock to make it perfect for contemporary country radio. Look for Old Dominion to have a huge summer.
Continental Club, June 3
Lafayette-based roots band Feufollet has played here a few times the past year, but they’ve never drawn the throngs of Louisianans one would expect in a city where LSU can feel like the home team. This time Feufollet, who were being nominated for Grammys before they needed razors or driver's licenses, come in on a Friday, when one would expect a standing-room-only crowd for a band with this much talent and legitimacy. Led by Chris Stafford and Kelli Savoy-Jones, Feufollet shifts between Cajun dance music to rock and roll to blues to honky-tonk without breaking a sweat. They continue to tour in support of their stellar 2015 LP Two Universes, which includes the catchy single, "Tired of Your Tears." It’s too bad Huey Meaux isn’t alive to make a record with these young Cajun musical warriors, because the results would likely be stupendous. WILLIAM MICHAEL SMITH
ACCORDION KINGS & QUEENS FESTIVAL
Miller Outdoor Theatre, June 4
The Houston Press is a proud co-sponsor of Saturday’s Accordion Kings & Queens Festival (along with KPFT 90.1 FM), which we couldn’t be happier to do because this is always one of the most exiting, dance-friendly afternoons on the Bayou City's musical calendar. (Plus it’s completely free of charge, too.) Saturday will mark the 27th edition of Texas Folklife's annual celebration the beloved squeezebox — an instrument that may be scoffed at in snootier quarters, but has nonetheless been rightly dubbed the “National Instrument of Texas.” Headlining is David Lee Garza y Los Musicales, the South Texas Tejano institution that has launched the careers of stars like Ram Herrera and the late Emilio Navaira; with Emilio’s passing still fresh in fans’ memories, it’s not hard to imagine some sort of special tribute in the offing, but Garza’s roster of guests is pretty loaded as it is: David Farias, formerly of La Tropa F and Los Texmaniacs; current Texmaniacs squeezemeister Josh Baca; and Berna Rodriguez of Houston sister act Las Fenix, plus the top-notch rhythm section of Texmaniacs’ Noel Hernandez and Grammy-winning bajo sexto stud Max Baca. Rounding out this year’s card are the exciting Creole zydeco talents of Geno Delafose & French Rockin’ Boogie; the Magnolia Sisters, a versatile all-female group from Cajun country led by Ann Savoy; and Austin polka preservationists the Czech Melody Masters. Reserved seating will be available at the Miller box office the day of the performance, or by becoming a member of Texas Folklife.
Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion, June 4
It may be hard to believe now, but Jimmy Buffett came up through the ranks as a laid-back, country-rock singer-songwriter type only a degree or two removed from Jerry Jeff Walker; in fact, the two co-wrote “Railroad Lady,” later covered by Willie Nelson. Buffett, who has done for the Florida Keys what Walker did for the Hill Country, has become such an icon among the barefooted Hawaiian-shirt set, and thus a caricature to nonbelievers, that he may not get enough credit for his songwriting skills. But booze-addled though they may be, Buffett's songs grapple with some pretty universal themes — aging, the meaning of home, living for the moment and the eternal search for that lost shaker of salt. (His Coral Reefer Band is not to be trifled with, either.) With the 40th anniversary of Margaritaville coming in hot next year, it's high time we realized there's a little Parrothead in all of us.
Satellite Bar, June 5
Austin's vowel-shunning Boyfrndz play the sort of free-ranging, high-volume rock that slips the bounds of easy categorization but, like the Flaming Lips or MGMT, holds fast to a basic concept of melodic pop songcraft. That's why descriptions of the quartet can end up in hyphenated jumbles like “noise-pop-electro-shoegaze-art-rock,” but the music never feels anything less than organic – even when it gets pretty weird. The quartet's second full-length, the brand-new Impulse (Brutal Panda), opens a wormhole into so many facets of Boyfrndz's sound – mysterious, intimidating, meandering, majestic – that it's easy to lose sight of the fact that none of the ten songs are longer than five minutes. Hot tip: Impulse must be accessorized with a lava lamp and high-end headphones. With Hikes, Bright Like the Sun and Sunrise & Ammunition.