Shows of the Week: Hayes Carll Returns Home, Heart In Hand

Cullen Theater (Wortham Center), April 14
Nearly all of the great songwriters have a “divorce album,” a memoir of a failed relationship that in many cases is also an artistic masterpiece: Dylan’s Blood On the Tracks, Willie Nelson’s Phases and Stages and Springsteen’s Tunnel of Love, to name a few better-known examples. Although it just came out last month, his first album in five years, the probability is high that Hayes Carll’s Lovers and Leavers will belong on that list someday. As the Houston-raised musician enters his forties, the rakish air of previous albums KMAG YOYO and Trouble In Mind has receded in the face of Carll’s recent experiences, but the clever and frank wordplay that emerged on the earlier Flowers and Liquor and Little Rock is intact. Sparely produced by studio ace Joe Henry, Lovers and Leavers sounds like the conversations of that lonely but perceptive guy on a barstool who could sure use another round…and perhaps a friend.

House of Blues, April 14
Now 36, Kurt Vile has more than earned a spot in the conversation about the finest indie-rock songwriter under 40. Some would argue the laconic Philly native, whose songs tend toward the meandering and dreamlike, arrived at that plateau with Wakin’ On a Pretty Daze. That album, released in 2013, fulfilled and probably surpassed the lofty expectations set by 2011’s Smoke Rings For My Halo. Then last year’s b’lieve i’m goin down inspired no less than Sonic Youth’s Kim Gordon to write this in Vile’s bio: “Kurt does his own myth making; a boy/man with an old soul voice in the age of digital everything becoming something else, which is why this focused, brilliantly clear and seemingly candid record is a breath of fresh air.” Guess that settles that, then. With Purling Hiss.

Satellite Bar, April 15
Blue-collar Beaumont has quietly developed a respectable music scene over the past few years, thanks in no small part to the not-so-quiet band Purple. The young trio throws down a catchy and fun brand of big-guitar Technicolor rock that adds a neat little twist or two, like some pretty dope rapping skills (their cover of Devin the Dude’s “What a Job” kills). Purple has steadily been winning fans across the Gulf Coast since at least 2014’s 409, but when songs from latest LP Bodacious began circulating ahead of its April Fool’s Day release, suddenly their circle of admirers got a lot bigger. Alternative Press recently premiered the “Pretty Mouth” video on its Web site, while NPR’s All Songs Considered declared “we would follow Purple to the ends of the Earth” during the trio’s recent SXSW blitz. It’s not hard to see why. With POON, Giant Kitty and Whit.

Warehouse Live, April 15
Once mandatory in any great rock act’s catalog, live albums are all but extinct nowadays, something nobody told the Drive-By Truckers. The Athens veterans’ latest, It’s Great to Be Alive!, is not only a live album, but a double live album. Its 35 tracks span 1998’s “The Living Bubba” (about a friend who died of AIDS) to the sprawling “Grand Canyon,” a highlight of 2014’s uneven English Oceans. Entering their third decade this year, the Truckers remain virtually unique within rock and roll thanks to their tandem of A-list songwriters, Patterson Hood and Mike Cooley, and a lineup as heavy-duty as any of the Southern-rock greats of yesteryear. The Truckers just happen to be as informed by the tradition of William Faulkner and Flannery O’Connor as the one established by Skynyrd and the Allman Brothers, but their true element will always be on the stage.

House of Blues, April 16
Houston’s recent craft-beer boom is a near-exact reflection of our music scene’s resurgence, and Saturday House of Blues lets us enjoy the best of both worlds. While fans enjoy suds from some of the state’s best breweries, a dozen bands will rock all three HOB stages, starting with INXS-ish Austin rockers The Vanity in the big room alongside H-Town party boys Another Run, DEF. (formerly Def Perception), Space Villians*, Deep Cuts and Race to the Moon. The Bronze Peacock welcomes another Austin buzz band, Duncan Fellows, alongside roots-rockers Second Lovers, Ranson Bandits and Fox Parlor; down at the Crossroads (stage), trip-hoppers Bang Bangz and garage-pop trio Young Girls whet some appetites. At a single dollar per band (beer sold separately), it’s hard to imagine a tastier way to spend a Saturday.
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Chris Gray has been Music Editor for the Houston Press since 2008. He is the proud father of a Beatles-loving toddler named Oliver.
Contact: Chris Gray