Clear out the cobwebs of Halloween and suddenly Old Man 2014 is staring down his nose at you, anxiously looking at his watch -- and you know he's an old man because he's wearing a watch in the first place. Now that the last of the Fun Fun Fun Fest spillover has left town, the tour buses and extended Econoline vans loaded down with amps and road cases will be pretty scarce until well into 2015.
That leaves the locals, who have to contend for cover charges with acts from all over the world the rest of the year. They're certainly worth your attention these next six weeks or so.
Velostacks/Fat Mannequin Greasy gearhead punks gear up for this weekend's two-day Houston Underground Punk Festival at Last Concert Cafe. (Acadia Bar & Grill, November 13)
Keeton Coffman Former 71's singer serenades HOB's Foundation Room with some soulful pop-rock piano tunes from 2014's The Ghost EP. No cover. (House of Blues, November 14)
Cop Warmth Houston's most reliable noise-punk deviants practice more self-flagellation on this year's Womanizer EP; listen for "Guilt Dick," "Cocaine Moustache," "FKD 4 LYF" and more. (Mango's, November 14)
Finnegan All too rare appearance by one of Houston's premiere indie/folk-rock ensembles, for whom a concert is like a truly satisfying meal: multiple courses, first-class presentation, little to no heartburn. (Continental Club, November 15)
Omotai After issuing Fresh Hell in February, these local art-metal standard-bearers are ending a banner year with a successful appearance at North Texas' No Thanks Fest and this Saturday's opening spot for L.A. wizards Intronaut; catch a preview of their forthcoming third LP too. (Fitzgerald's, November 15)
Space City Beat Battle 18 A passel of H-Town's hottest beatmakers compete for the title of Houston's Best Producer -- but also to network with judges who know the craft backwards and forwards: The ARE (LL Cool J); Mr. Wired Up (#stripclubjunkie); and Cozmos (Radio Galaxy/The Hue). (Warehouse Live, November 15)
Submission Feel the wintry chill of Ceeplus Bad Knives and Mr. Castillo's noirish nocturnal mix; listen for darkwave, synth-pop, industrial, underground disco, Italo; and lots more, plus DJ sets from Houston's Future Blondes and Portland coldwave outfit Delphine Coma. (Numbers, November 15)
Children of Pop Chase DeMaster's febrile electro-pop mind has been brushing up on the Material Girl and is not afraid to express itself on his new "Pre Madonna" 7-inch. Open your heart! (Fitzgerald's, November 22)
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Hell City Kings Thanksgiving Eve is "that time of year again to be thankful Houston still has some good bands around," saith the Kings, who celebrate their tenth anniversary by stuffing new 7-inch "One Night Stand Ego" b/w "Two Grams All For Me" into the turkey. Fellow music-scene miscreants Donkey Punch, Poor Dumb Bastards, the Guilloteens and Velostacks add bile and cranberry sauce. (Fitzgerald's, November 26)
Wrestlers, Night Drive, Flcon Fcker Stylish, eclectic electronica bill split Neapolitan-style: one big-hearted neo-disco duo; one shadowy Depeche Mode revival act; and one gonzo, abstract sound-quilter. A Soundcloud bookmarker's delight. (Fitzgerald's, November 28)
American Fangs, Los Skarnales Seek out the upside-down middle finger and you'll find American Fangs' new CD, Dirty Leg, preceded by the ray of alt-rock energy that is "Man In the Sun"; Houston's favorite vatos rudos have their backs. (Fitzgerald's, November 29)
Doomsgiving III Look out for plenty of fire-and-brimstone metal at the third annual "Psychotic Supper" hosted by Doomstress Alexis and Project Armageddon; also at the table are Vanity Crimes, Downer and Giant Kitty. (Rudyard's, November 29)
Heavy as Texas Brace yourself for the badassery of metal god Marzi Montazeri's band when he steps away from Phil Anselmo's Illegals; with the thundering herd of Epic, Black Standard, Torrid Complex, Absent Shadow and Vicious Cycle. (BFE Rock Club, November 22)
Paris Falls Cheating a little because technically Paris Falls lives outside Austin now, but it's so good to see the nigh-unclassifiable band back in town -- and with new album Soft Shoulders to boot, which you can hear on Soundcloud -- that we'll gladly still count 'em as local. (Cactus Music, November 22)
Slim Thug, Doeman Few Houston rap tapes this year made a bigger splash than Slim Thug's Thug Thursday 2, which dominated late summer with spring-loaded beats and Boss Hogg's lovably laconic personality. Needless to say, he's got a lot to be thankful for; so does Doeman, who put himself on the map once and for all with this spring's D.Y.N.A. EP. (Eastdown Warehouse, November 22)
No Refund Band Plus-size crack R&B unit -- think Earth, Wind & Fire meets the Stax house band -- brushes up for a trip to compete in the International Blues Challenge finals in Memphis come January. New album in the works, too. (Cactus Music, November 30)
Atomic Opera This ambitious, technically precise, mystical metal band was closely aligned with King's X and Galactic Cowboys, and landed a deal with a Warner Bros. imprint for 1994's For Madmen Only. Now front man Frank Hart is spearheading a crowdfunding campaign to reissue the album, culminating of this reunion of the Madmen lineup for the first time in 20 years. More to come. (Fitzgerald's, December 5)
Fallcore 2014 Black Coffee, Some Nerve, Chipped Teeth and Die Young hold it down for H-town during two pulverizing days of pure brutality; in all, it's nearly 20 bands headlined by the only Texas appearances of Death Threat, Incidiary and the Rival Mob. (Walters Downtown, December 5 & 6)
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5th Annual Eyes Behind the Wall From the demented minds of Richard Ramirez (Black Leather Jesus/Death Before Midnight) and Sean E. Matzus (Last Rape/THEWHITEHORSE) comes this onslaught of more than a dozen regional experimental/noise acts that will leave you sleeping with the lights on. Admission is free, but you'll pay the price all right. (Mango's, December 6)
Funeral Horse, Linus Pauling Quartet Billowing clouds of ass-kicking stoner-metal, somewhat politically minded on FH's new LP Sinister Rites of the Master ("Communist's Blues") and downright Lovecraftian on LP4's maxi-single/musical film "C Is For Cthulhu." (Rudyard's, December 6)
Mark Jones & 20 Paces One of the real surprises (and real pleasures) of the local-music year, the Houston quartet's steely, brooding debut Breaking Even may not pack the same firepower as a Reckless Kelly, say, but its slow burn really gets under your skin all the same. (Firehouse Saloon, December 12)
Trudy Lynn & Steve Krase The dynamic duo of Houston blues, who have both had Top 10 albums on Billboard's blues chart this year -- Lynn a No. 1 -- spread some Yuletide cheer the in-store way. Should be a real holiday treat. (Cactus Music, December 20)
Ashbury Keys Show me a good local power-pop band and I'll show you a group that's probably pretty lonely. Ashbury Keys definitely fits that bill, when you can find them, but thanks to new EP Do You Know Who You Are late next month you'll have two chances in one day. (Cactus Music/Jet Lounge, December 27)
Mike Stinson Stinson's band has been shuffling personnel lately, but spending the last few hours of 2014 in the company of one of the finest songwriters around -- not to mention the reigning HPMA Best Country Act -- is still about as close to a sure thing as it gets. (McGonigel's Mucky Duck, December 31)
Your Show Here Even before we started, we knew it would be folly to pass this list off as definitive. This is Houston, after all, where the best band could well be the one hardly anyone has even heard of yet, or that other one that is somewhat social-media impaired. So please, tell our readers what other shows might be worthwhile. The comments section awaits.
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