[Ed. Note: For the next two weeks, Rocks Off will be looking back at the many, many, many shows we reviewed this year. Trust us, we've long since lost count. We'll start with this past January, as ever a slow month on the live-music front, but things picked up soon enough... Enjoy.] Magpies, Sideshow Tramps, Continental Club, January 7: "A few bars in [to the Magpies], Aftermath and friend/colleague William Michael Smith turned to each other at the bar and cocked an eyebrow at almost exactly the same time. Could this band - of whom Afterrmath had previously never heard a lick - really be this good? Chris Gray White Rhino, Scout Bar, January 11: "Three leather-clad dudes from Austin, White Rhino brings to mind the robotic throb of the first Queens of The Stone Age record and the black-tar vocals of Lemmy from Motorhead. Lead guitarist and vocalist Michael Gibson even sort of looks like Josh Homme but with a Robert Redford from Butch Cassidy vibe thrown in the mix." Craig Hlavaty Shinyribs, Under the Volcano, January 14: "Although his excellent hour-plus set included other standouts like 'Shreveport' from the Gourds' brand-new album Haymaker! and a tender cover of TLC's 'Waterfalls,' Rocks Off thought the highlight of the night was Russell's version of R.Kelly's tautological 2000 exercise in misogyny, 'Feelin' on Yo Booty.'" Chris Gray Scott Weiland, Warehouse Live, January 17: "There's nothing wrong with being fashionably late and coming out to the stage in a fog of cigarette smoke and dressed like a foppish member of Al Capone's crew. In fact, Aftermath champions this. Just not by an artist who needs a dynamic backing band behind him like Snoop Dogg needs cannabis to live or he evaporates." Craig Hlavaty
Jones Family Singers, January 19, Rothko Chapel: "Like Don McLean sang in 'American Pie,' can music save your mortal soul? Whatever people may believe about God, Jesus, any other recognized deity or even themselves, music is the closest thing to a direct line to their higher power there is - and in many cases, it is their higher power." Chris Gray
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Wild Moccasins, Walter's on Washington, January 23: "Wild Moccasins are musically mature beyond their years. They're cultivating an ethos of merrymaking, holding the audience's collective hand, playing hopscotch at dusk." Brandon K. Hernsberger