John Egan The Big Easy, March 30
Give John Egan credit for taking chances. The longtime solo Houston bluesman's 2014 album, Amulet, is in some respects the polar opposite of its 2012 predecessor, Phantoms. Besides bringing in a few side musicians and respected Americana producer R.S. Field (Billy Joe Shaver, Webb Wilder), Egan has expanded his songwriting reach to include Latin-tinged jazz and melancholy pop, showing he's less reliant on his Resonator guitar's unforgiving tone but comfortable keeping the instrument as his anchor. The end result is a softer mood than Phantoms, whose songs sometimes showed visibly bared teeth, but Amulet's overall disquieting feel suggests Egan has done little to ward off the same tormentors who were after him last time.
Be*Witched Wednesdays Numbers, April 1
Houston's only night to hear the most sinister subgenres of alternative music all in one place, Be*Witched Wednesdays is a lot more than Siousxie & the Banshees, the Cure and Bauhaus -- not that they'd ever skimp on such cornerstones, either. DJs Damon Allen and FrankiFranki (and their guests) touch on goth, industrial, post-punk, darkwave, EBM, New Romantic, synth-pop, and a lot more besides, meaning all the greats (Skinny Puppy, Clan of Xymox, Sex Gang Children) among plenty of legends and just as many acts you'd nearly forgotten. Red Lorry Yellow Lorry, anyone?
Mike Stinson Under the Volcano, April 1
A craftsman of a songwriter capable of both great wit and poignancy, Mike Stinson has raised the bar for local troubadors since moving to Houston in 2009. His 2013 LP Hell and Half of Georgia put a rockin', radio-friendly sheen on some damn fine turns of phrase, and was named that year's No. 42 album by former Washington Post critic Geoffrey Himes in Paste magazine. It also netted him a well-deserved Houston Press Music Award for Best Country Act the following year.
More shows on the next page.
Big Business Walters Downtown, April 1
In the course of the last decade, L.A.'s Big Business has earned a solid rep as one of the loudest and heaviest underground-rock bands around, splicing their records together with plenty of squalling Big Black-style post-hardcore, a hint of old-school thrash, and a foundation of vintage Melvins sludge; BB are very close to Dale Crover's camp, in fact. When the quartet's longtime label, HydraHead, folded in 2012, Big Business went the difficult and time-consuming route of setting up the machinery to release their music themselves in the form of Gold Metal Records, the imprint whereupon they released 2013's noble and unrelenting Battlefields Forever.
Kiesza Fitzgerald's, April 2
Kiesza is unambiguously retro, a throwback to the days when electronic-based, R&B-flavored pop dominated the charts for the first time since the heyday of Gloria Gaynor and Donna Summer -- the early '90s, when acts like C+C Music Factory, CeCe Peniston and Technotronic owned both the dance floor and Top 40 radio. The 26-year-old Alberta-born singer comes to Fitz on the heels of Miami's Ultra Music Fest and her classic-house hit single "Hideaway"; her 2014 debut album, Sound of a Woman, also features a cover of Haddaway's "What Is Love?", just to put an exclamation point on her credentials. With Betty Who.
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