Hamell On Trial Poison Girl, January 19
With his shaved head, dizzying wordplay, and acoustic guitar, Ed Hamell, aka Hamell on Trial, was an institution at Austin's Electric Lounge in the '90s, and fittingly wound up on Ani DiFranco's "anti-folk" label Righteous Babe. Surviving a serious van accident on tour that nearly took him off the board for good, Hamell has since relocated to New York City and procreated, spawning not just a child but the 2006 musical parents' guide Songs for Parents Who Enjoy Drugs. Monday night he winds up his weeklong Texas tour behind last year's New West LP The Happiest Man In the World with a both a brief set of songs and a longer stint mixing at the Westheimer cocktail lounge's turntables.
Mushroomhead Scout Bar, January 20
Black-masked Mushroomhead belches forth a sound that adds a few gears' worth of industrial grind to prototypical alt-metal. Born in Cleveland circa 1993, the outsize group set themselves apart from their heavily tattooed peers -- and won the approval of now-frequent tourmates Insane Clown Posse -- with sheafs of smack-talking lyrics, a wicked sense of humor and stagewear ripped from the pages of Fangoria magazine. Their latest album, last year's The Righteous & the Butterfly, includes an improbably awesome cover of Adele's "Rumor Has It." With Like Monroe, The Family Ruin, Thira, and Blood of an Outlaw.
Northern Lights Tour Warehouse Live, January 21
A lot of folks who hadn't been to church in a while got a real wakeup call about the popularity of Christian rap when Houston native LeCrae's LP Anomaly debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 last year. Pulling for the same team, as it were, are the Ohio-raised twosome of Swoope and Christon Gray, who hit town Wednesday on the "Northern Lights" tour. Swoope, a rapper who belongs to the W.L.A.K. collective (short for We Live as Kings), saw his 2014 LP Sinema reach No. 1 on the Gospel Albums chart and No. 4 on the Hot Rap Albums tally, while young crooner Gray landed his own School of Roses at No. 5 on the Hot R&B Albums chart. A righteous find for those weary of secular hip-hop's incessant narcissism and carnal obsessions. Also with AJ McQueen and DJ Vow.
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Jason Boland & the Stragglers Stampede Houston, January 22
Although he has since moved to Austin and further endeared himself to Texans with the ballad "Comal County Blue," Boland and the Stragglers came out of Stillwater, Okla., in the late '90s and hit Texas like they owned the place. Heavily influenced by George Strait, Boland also has a populist streak that can be heard on his 2011 tribute to fellow Oklahoman Woody Guthrie, "Woody's Road." Two years later the Stragglers released the gritty Dark & Dirty Mile, which emphasized Boland's similarities to another Okie: the gentleman from Muskogee.
John Doe McGonigel's Mucky Duck, January 22
As a co-founder of X, John Doe and his cohorts helped establish punk rock on the West Coast with a noirish sneer, six albums' worth of songs that visited Southern California dive bars, cheap motels and hard-luck losers that just has Raymond Chandler's characters had 30 years prior. But that was just the jumping-off point for a career that, in between X reunions, has also seen the prolific Doe join up with the Sadies, the Knitters and Jill Sobule, among a host of one-off collaborations. (And beaucoup acting jobs, too.) A fair amount of Doe's hard-bitten but humanistic solo work was released on last year's Yep Roc anthology The Best of John Doe: This Far. With Jesse Dayton.
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