Dosey Doe Music Cafe, September 9
More than six years after esteemed Houston pop/rockers The 71’s folded, ex-front man Keeton Coffman has firmly established himself as one of the area’s most charismatic and industrious singer-songwriters. He has now released four EPs while habitually haunting local stages like both Dosey Does and the Yes, Indeed! and Madness on Main festivals, and has now reworked 11 tracks from those EPs to result in his first proper album, Killer Eyes. With ex-bandmate Ryan Cecil acting as producer and engineer, Killer Eyes radiates Coffman’s confidence and occasional vulnerability, whether the songs are done up with full orchestration (“The Mountain,” “What We’re Reaching For”) or mostly Coffman pining at a piano (“The Memory”). Highly recommended for Jackson Browne and Ryan Adams fans, because who knows when either artist may pass this way again, Killer Eyes can also proudly stand on its own merits. With Jana Gilmore.
DEMI LOVATO & NICK JONAS
Toyota Center, September 9
It's hard to know where to place Demi Lovato and Nick Jonas in the spectrum of pop music these days, other than to know they belong shoulder to shoulder. They're both popular stars, but neither are superstars. They have popular songs, but neither has a song that is iconic. Alone maybe they could headline out in The Woodlands, but together they've got enough popularity to get them into the Toyota Center. Pop music is a weird space. Lovato and Jonas, each trying to move beyond the songs of their youth into more adult material and sounds, can't help but come off as pop institutions even though they're only 24 and 23, respectively. While their new songs – in particular Lovato's “Confident” and “Cool for the Summer” – are as solid as anything on the radio, as artists they lack that “new car smell” of the next generation of artists popping up. Still, odds are good that they've got at least a few more decades in the industry, and maybe they'll each eventually get an iconic song of their own. And if not, well, at least they'll always be able to tour together. With Mike Posner. CORY GARCIA
White Oak Music Hall, September 9
The Kills’ records are packed with so much creeping tension and slow-burn sexuality that it’s not too surprising that both of them are also talented visual artists – Alison Mosshart is a frenetic painter, while Jamie Hince prefers photography. The on-again, off-again duo met in turn-of-the-millennium London and broke wide with 2003 debut LP Keep On Your Mean Side was abnormally feral even in a scene dominated by the White Stripes. It would be wrong to say the Kills have mellowed since then; they’ve only matured. Mosshart eventually joined Jack White in the Dead Weather while Hince broke a bone in his hand that forced him to re-learn his guitar technique. Released this past June, the relatively subdued fifth LP Ash & Ice sprang from a trip Hince took on the Trans-Siberian Express, and retains a certain frosty demeanor that can’t resist hinting at an imminent thaw – and then meltdown. With Kim and the Created.
COCK ESP, BURNT SKULL, HOLY MONEY, ROTTEN PIECE, THOU SHALT NOT KILL...EXCEPT
The Clinic, September 10
If you think about music in Freudian terms, and you probably shouldn’t, most bands express the
superego, entirely bound up by rules and restraints, with a little ego thrown in for relief. Cock ESP, however, would appear to be the opposite of music in any terms. Their antic performances resemble nothing so much as the copulative throes of a juiced-up pataphysical id, slapstick and anarchic, as if Alfred Jarry received the gift of amplification and some lube instead of a revolver and a bicycle. Austin’s Burnt Skull, on the other hand, slathers the notion of the death drive, the drive behind the expressions of metal, with more than a dollop of giddy malarkey. Holy Money adds some fine feral growls and feedback timbre to their Sleep-y/Sabbath-y congress. Rotten Piece is an OG drone dog, bringing the homemade stringed things out of reclusion like a less-than-17-year cicada. Thou Shalt Not Kill…Except is another infrequently spotted freak from the deep, an unpredictable performer with one toe left in music, and the rest dug into the fatty tissue of a primal, leathery leviathan. TEX KERSCHEN