King Diamond House of Blues, November 5
Go ahead and start comparing prices on quality earplugs, because King Diamond, the top-hatted, face-painted ghoul with the cochlea-shattering falsetto, is returning to Houston at long last in November. The Danish metal icon isn't skimping on the production values this time around, either: The King has promised to bring his full European festival stage set to our shores in order to deliver the biggest, most ambitious North American production in the singer's long career.
A coterie of sadistic doctors and corrupted ministers will probably be running around willy-nilly on stage amidst all the pentagrams and inverted crosses, but KingDiamond's deathless shriek ought to ensure that no one gets confused as to who the star of the production really is (Satan, duh). NATHAN SMITH
Single Mothers, Forced Fem Walters, November 5
Post-hardcore, especially of the more experimental ilk like the Jesus Lizard or At the Drive-In, is one of those genres that refuses to die. It might go more emo or more punk, but it sticks around and continues to be exciting as newer bands like Single Mothers rock it out to its logical conclusion and then find more ground to cover.
This insistent Canadian act is not one to be missed for fans of hard-rocking post-hardcore, but local aficionados shouldn't miss Forced Fem, either. As one of the few true punk acts of 2013's Free Press Summer Fest, they blew us away with their stage presence and hard-hitting style. COREY DEITERMAN
Alt-J Bayou Music Center, November 6
Fresh off a new record, Alt-J are back on the road after what seemed like no time at all. With a canon of new songs to tweak live, they'll warm up in Houston before their big headlining gig at Fun Fun Fun Fest the following night. If you love harmonies, this is your band. Their ethereal sound fits nicely in a big room, and hopefully won't pull as many terrible people as their last Houston show. JIM BRICKER
Death From Above 1979 Warehouse Live, November 6
No two-piece act is more electric than Death From Above 1979. Composed of Sebastien Grainger and Jesse F. Keeler (aka MSTRKRFT), the Canadian dance-punks sparked the ongoing interest in fast-paced, electric, sexy duos that make noise much bigger than themselves. Be warned, though: this show will not be for the faint of heart. Due to DFA's long hiatus and uncertainty as to making music in the future - their first new album in ten years, The Physical World, is a good sign, though - this show will get sweatier than a pair of gym socks. ALYSSA DUPREE
Yelle Fitzgerald's, November 6
Having the ability to catch this French vixen do her thing outside of a festival format is a rare opportunity, so this one-off at Fitz should be a good one. With as much competition around town as there is that night, it shouldn't be too packed either which should allow for a nice intimate experience. JIM BRICKER
Laidback Luke Stereo Live, November 7
Coming off the literal and figurative high of last weekend's Something Wicked festival, Houston is hungrier than ever for more EDM. Just in time, Dutch super-DJ Laidback Luke will feed the need of fans with his party-ready brand of house music. Having remixed everyone from Madonna and Jay-Z to fellow DJs Benny Benassi and Martin Solveig, Luke is sure to program a dancefest approved by ravers and ragers alike. SELENA DIERINGER
Modest Mouse, Rocket from the Crypt Bayou Music Center, November 7
If you've ever asked yourself who will survive as the classic rock of this generation, look no further than Modest Mouse. The indie legends have established themselves as one of the longest lasting and most influential bands in rock music today, amazing fans of underground and mainstream music alike. Openers Rocket from the Crypt are recently reunited punk rockers from the mid-'90s led by John Reis, formerly of the classic bands Drive Like Jehu and Hot Snakes, and will pack a huge punch before the night settles down into Modest Mouse's more maudlin fare. COREY DEITERMAN
Meat Puppets Fitzgerald's, November 7
Among the handful of American post-punk bands that helped shape Generation-X alternative rock, Arizona's Meat Puppets mingled hardcore punk, desert psychedelia and honky-tonk to arrive at a most unique formula. Kirkwood brothers Curt and Cris have been through hell and back since their seminal early-'80s SST albums, but have stabilized since Cris' 2007 return, fleshed out by Curt's guitarist son Elmo and Shandon Sahm (son of late Tex-Mex legend Doug) on drums. Last year the rejuvenated Puppets released Rat Farm, their most intoxicating music since 1994's gold-certified Too High to Die. CHRIS GRAY
Legends of Zydeco & the Next Generation Northwest Mall, November 8
Here's something hardly anyone could see coming: an all-day zydeco festival in the parking lot of Northwest Mall, with a lineup studded with Grammy winners and other Creole-music superstars. That's what we've got, though: an entire afternoon and evening packed with performers even zydeco novices should recognize: Buckwheat Zydeco, C.J. Chenier and his Red Hot Louisiana Band, Nathan & the Zydeco Cha Chas, Terrence Simien & the Zydeco Experience, Rosie Ledet & the Zydeco Playboys, Step Rideau & the Zydeco Outlaws and, filling out the "next generation" part of the bill, Lil' Nate & the Zydeco Big Timers. Tickets start at $35, a true steal for all this talent; see legendsofzydeco.com for ticket information. CHRIS GRAY
Run the Jewels Fitzgerald's, November 8
Run the Jewels is a collaborative project between Atlanta hip-hop legend Killer Mike and indie rap producer El-P, perhaps the greatest producer in the game today. Their first album was a killer, hard-hitting, raw rap album and their second is shaping up the same way. Run the Jewels 2 was released earlier this week, and they'll be showing it off at Fitzgerald's, along with openers Ratking and Despot.
Also look for their upcoming remix album, Meow the Jewels, a full album redo of their first record made with cat sounds. These guys have a great sense of humor, but don't take them lightly. They always bring their A-game. COREY DEITERMAN
Olivia Newton-John Stafford Centre, November 9
Well, you know, I love Grease. That might be a secret I've never really shared. I don't even think my girlfriend knows that. My mom knows, but she's the person who originally perpetuated my love for the film. Olivia Newton-John was a fox, who could sing and dance and be a badass in all black. Turns out she still can -- and well, too. She'll be showing the Houston area that when she brings her live show to the severely underrated Stafford Centre. JIM BRICKER
Jello Biafra & the Guantanamo School of Medicine Continental Club, November 9
For more than three decades, Jello Biafra has remained punk rock's brassy-mouthed conscience willing to knock down the sacred cows of politics and rock and roll. As a news junkie, edgy showman, political reformist and punk shaman, he continues to curate fabled label Alternative Tentacles, has survived a bitter feud with his ex-Dead Kennedys bandmates, and kept retirement far away while firing up the Guantanamo School of Medicine, his vociferous psych-punk band with former members of Victim's Family and Rollins Band. DAVID ENSMINGER
Atmosphere House of Blues, November 10
Atmosphere' srather successful label, Rhymesayers Entertainment, has steadily churned out rappers from all around Minnesota and the surrounding Midwest including Aesop Rock, Freeway, MF Doom and many others -- basically a bunch of smart free-thinkers who have serious talent in the flowing department. DJ and producer Ant and rapper Slug have been doing their thing together since the end of the '80s and at this point have become somewhat of a classic act, one that's well worth catching at least once in your life. JIM BRICKER
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Merle Haggard Stampede Houston, November 13
If you haven't had the chance to catch Merle Haggard in your lifetime, right now might be the best time. While he's rather gray and weathered, that's what makes now the best time to see him. His stories could never have a deeper meaning than they do now. He's truly lived a life full of fascination and amazement, and it shows during his live shows now. Many classic acts just go through the motions to continue their paychecks, but Merle still seems to actually enjoy what he's doing.
With his youngest son along for the ride, who's worth seeing for his lead-guitar skills alone, it's a true family affair -- one that allows you to live out your bucket-list dream of shouting along to "Okie From Muskogee" and "Mama Tried." JIM BRICKER
Kim Richey McGonigel's Mucky Duck, November 13
Like Kelly Willis, Kim Richey is another fine singer-songwriter who just wouldn't fit the Nashville mainstream mold no matter how much styling her label wanted. Richey wasn't some American Idol lump of clay willing to be molded into something she wasn't, so after several albums with Mercury she opted out for one of the boutique labels where she could sing her songs her way.
It may not be as glamorous, but Richey has had a dignified career without the claptrap and headaches of artists like Miranda Lambert and Martina McBride. She's a mesmerizing performer, but her songs are what makes Richey a go-to writer for artists in pop and country alike. WILLIAM MICHAEL SMITH
Tedeschi Trucks Band Bayou Music Center, November 13
One can only assume that heaven itself had a hand in pairing the strong, sultry vocals of Susan Tedeschi with the godlike guitar of Derek Trucks, but somehow the two fell in love and started making sweet music together as the Tedeschi Trucks Band. Next month they'll bring their traveling band of uber-talented hippies to Bayou Music Center to show Houston what blues is really all about; true fans of melody-driven rock won't want to miss it either. SELENA DIERINGER
The Whigs Fitzgerald's, November 13
Georgia's the Whigs are the true definition of a power rock trio, and are your best chance to catch a band before they truly bust out. They've been doing it for a while, but are just one more Apple commercial away from being huge. Besides, it will be a much better alternative to those who can't shell out the $75 it's gonna cost you to see The Black Keys two nights later. Anytime they come to town, I'll be there, and you should too. JIM BRICKER
Real Friends, Neck Deep Nov 14, Walters
Had they existed in the early '00s, it's likely a lot of people in their late twenties or early thirties would have Real Friends lyrics tattooed on their body. Maybe This Place is the Same and We're Just Changing is full of quotables that tug at the heartstrings and is basically a perfect pop-punk record.
Sad, but not necessarily pessimistic, full of songs that are begging to be screamed out loud in concert. Add to that Neck Deep and the perfection that is "Silver Lining," and you've got a night that's going to be all sorts of emotional. CORY GARCIA
The Black Keys Toyota Center, November 15
The Black Keys sounded huge even when they were playing basement dives with broken plumbing. Now that they're playing arenas, they sound as gritty and sweaty as they did back then, only with much better sound engineers. The duo's latest album, Turn Blue, is one of the biggest-selling records of this year, evidence that '70s muscle-car riffs multiplied by '60s garage and soul 45s can still work at the cash register. CHRIS GRAY
Galactic House of Blues, November 16
I could never live in New Orleans or else I'd flood my liver, but I sure do enjoy the culture, food, people and especially the music of The Big Easy. Any time Galactic, a Crescent City band I've seen more than most, comes back to Houston it calls for a party. Featuring one of the best drummers of our time in Stanton Moore, Galactic will bring their energetic funk, soul and blues-laden sound to a packed House of Blues. JIM BRICKER
Sturgill Simpson Fitzgerald's, November 16
It's not often you find an album on Bandcamp and the Top 10 of iTunes, but you will with Sturgill Simpson's second album, Metamodern Sounds In Country Music. The Kentucky native and latter-day Waylon soundalike (just don't tell him that) has turned the heads of country-music haters left and right, and turned plenty more country-music lovers who had nearly tuned out right back on. CHRIS GRAY
Method Man & Redman House of Blues, November 17
Although there are many to choose from, one of the best hip-hop duos of the past 20 years is the paring of Method Man and Redman. Between two successful albums and their cult-favorite movie How High, Meth and Red have proven quite possibly the most successful of the bunch outside of maybe Outkast. It's a rare treat to see them live, this being the first chance Houston will have in quite some time. JIM BRICKER
Courage My Love Walters, November 20
At times heavy, at times displaying a knack for a good poppy hook, Courage My Love are one of those bands that would probably be more popular if they didn't quite rock so hard. It's everyone else that's losing out though, because this band has some serious chops and can bring it live. They were one of the hidden gems of this year's Warped Tour, and it'll be a treat to see them as headliners. CORY GARCIA
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Chrissie Hynde Bayou Music Center, November 20
Chrissie Hynde is so defined by her 30-plus years of work in the Pretenders that it took into her sixties to make an album under her own name. That is this summer's Stockholm, technically a solo album but in reality a close collaboration with Bjorn Yttling of Swedish indie-pop swells Peter, Bjorn & John. Accordingly, Stockholm is a little cleaner and sweeter than Pretenders fans may be used to, but it's still 100 percent Chrissie Hynde. And rest assured, there will be plenty of Pretenders tunes in her live set. CHRIS GRAY
Relient K, Blondfire, From Indian Lakes House of Blues, November 21
With all apologies to Relient K and Blondfire, can we take a moment to talk about great the new From Indian Lakes record is? Absent Sounds is one of the best records to come out this year and "Sleeping Limbs" is one of the best songs that no one is talking about. Yeah, they're indie-rock, and yeah, their singer does kinda sound like the dude from Death Cab, but give it a listen; these songs will worm their way in to your ears and make a permanent home. Then we can all show up early and sing. It'll be fun. CORY GARCIA
Justin Timberlake Toyota Center, December 1
I think the luster of JT's megayear has somewhat worn off, and he's definitely milked every last drop out of it, but he's still JT and that's all that matters. On the second go-around of his "20/20 Experience" world tour, which was about as necessary as a second album of the same name, JT will hit Houston's Toyota Center again to what will assuredly be a sold out crowd again. He kills it live and is snazzy as shit, so go see him if you missed it the first time. JIM BRICKER
Common Warehouse Live, December 2
Lately Common has been busy acting and not rapping and stuff, but has decided to put down the script and pick up the microphone for a one-off tour featuring a show at Warehouse Live. He played the venue once several years ago, and after four hours of a DJ playing the same hits you hear on the new Boom 92, Common entertained the crowd for 32 minutes before taking a quick encore break and coming back out for "Just a Friend" with Biz Markie. It was sweet to see that little moment, but 30 minutes is not a lot of entertainment for 4-plus hours of wait time. Thankfully, he killed in that half-hour. JIM BRICKER
Ryan Adams Bayou Music Center, December 3
Ryan Adams is a rock and roll sponge, possibly a Britpop savant, Gram Parsons acolyte or Grateful Dead noodler depending on what mood he's in. However, he will have turned 40 by this visit to Houston, and no longer deserves to be defined by such aesthetic hair-splitting. His new album, the spartan and relatively pristine Ryan Adams, is some of the most rewarding and challenging music of his career. CHRIS GRAY
Brownout presents Brown Sabbath Fitzgerald's, December 4
Austin funk/Afrobeat group Brownout are fun in their own right, but their Brown Sabbath show is even better. It's a great horn- and percussion-laden group, featuring members of Grupo Fantasma, doing Black Sabbath covers. How could that go wrong? I've seen Brownout support artists as diverse as P-Funk's Bernie Worrell and Wu-Tang's GZA, so this should come as easy work to these experts. JIM BRICKER
Blackalicious Fitzgerald's, December 4
Blackalicious are a group you should probably go see even if it's midnight on a Monday. Gift of Gab is the most properly named MC out there, and after seeing him spit even just one verse, you'll see why. When matched by Chief Xcel's storied beats, Blackalicious' 20 year career makes sense. They've never really been given the respect they deserve, but give them a chance and you'll know why they still sell well in markets around the nation. JIM BRICKER
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Preservation Hall Jazz Band Jones Hall, December 5
Let's face it: most of the concerts on Rocks Off aren't things you'd consider taking your parents, grandparents or kids to, and that's okay. But at a time when kids are out of school and people are thinking about the "holiday spirit," it's nice to have entertainment options that don't involve The Nutcracker.
So even if you can't afford to head down to The Big Easy, that doesn't mean you can't indulge in a monument to New Orleans jazz. Whether you're trying to find something to fill the calendar or you just want to get out and do something different, make plans to catch this performance and don't look back. I promise you won't regret it. ALYSSA DUPREE
Shinyribs Under the Volcano, December 10
Kevin Russell's Shinyribs project is one of the hottest properties in Americana right now. From his first tentative sans-Gourds shows at Under the Volcano back in 2007, where he would play with just former Gourds producer Mike Snyder on a beat box, Russell has developed a crack ensemble capable of muscling up with anyone, anytime, anywhere.
He's also achieved something akin to the Holy Grail for an act in Texas music: without constantly singing about silly stuff like pickup trucks and floating the river, he's nonetheless somehow crossed over into the well-heeled Ball Cap Nation crowd. You haven't lived until you've heard him play Jimi Hendix's "The Wind Cries Mary" on a ukulele. WILLIAM MICHAEL SMITH
RL Grime Warehouse Live, December 10
Psst. You like trap music? Of course you do; you have outstanding taste. No one in the game right now is making trap tracks better that RL Grime. Every track he puts out sounds like magic and thunder and destruction, guaranteed to make your chest shake and your legs move. Plus, he openly acknowledges the Houston influence in his music. Gotta respect that he respects us. CORY GARCIA
Cheap Trick House of Blues, December 17
Do I really have to sell you on how fun it'll be to sing "Surrender" and "Dream Police" with a bunch of strangers? If you're worried that these guys can't possibly deliver live any more, have no fear: they're still quite fun in concert, as wacky and energetic as ever. Put your classic rock fears aside and have some fun; we're all all right, ya know? CORY GARCIA
Spoon House of Blues, December 30
The best show of the year might be the last. If you've never been to a Spoon show, you should probably afford yourself that favor and do so. While the next night is typically the night people go all out, skip that and burn your energy the night before at House of Blues with Britt Daniel and co. When was the last time you started the year without a hangover? Try something new and end the year with one instead. JIM BRICKER
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