The Helio Sequence Walters, January 15
The Helio Sequence's indie cred was secured when affable hipster tastemaker Fred Armisen (SNL, Portlandia) recently named last year's Negotiations to his Top 10 list, alongside albums by Bob Mould, Guided by Voices and Dirty Projectors. Only the Portland duo's third full-length in a decade, the melancholy Negotiations mingles some of Mercury Rev's windswept loneliness with Spiritualized's hypnotic guitar hooks. With Young Girls and Showers. CHRIS GRAY
Keane House of Blues, January 16
UK rockers Keane have been a dependable touring and recording act for the past decade, building upon the success of 2004 breakout LP Hopes And Fears, and cultivating an earnest catalog of plaintive nice-guy rock. Imagine the thematically similar Snow Patrol but with movable parts, less remorse and a touch more volume, or Coldplay without Chris Martin's stadium-size ego. Last year's Strangeland found Keane continuing to experiment with the dance-rock of 2008's Perfect Symmetry, bringing noted UK mixer Dan Grech-Marguerat along to handle production duties. CRAIG HLAVATY
David Grissom Under the Volcano, January 16
Every Texas music fan has his or her own favorite guitarist (probably several), but David Grissom's name doesn't come up in that conversation often enough. True, he has plenty of fans who remember when his technically flawless but passionate fretwork anchored Joe Ely's legendary Live at Liberty Lunch-era band or, later, Storyville.
But even those people may not realize he was the musical director of the Dixie Chicks' 2003 "Top of the World" tour, or that between Ely and Storyville he did three records and the concordant tours with John Mellencamp. More recently, Grissom guested on Buddy Guy's 2011 LP Living Proof and has been crafting solo albums such as last year's Way Down Deep, giving him an opportunity to bring his arena-level talents (and electric band) to cozy West U bar Under the Volcano. CHRIS GRAY
Ed Sheeran Bayou Music Center, January 17
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Guesting on a Taylor Swift album is pretty much like winning the lottery for a burgeoning songwriter in this day and age, and playing the Olympics closing ceremony in front of millions can't hurt your record sales either. Sheeran's BMC date Thursday was originally planned for House of Blues, but was moved to the bigger venue due to demand. The Taylor Effect, you see. And wouldn't you know it, Sheeran also opens for Ms. "Never, Ever" May 16 at Toyota Center. CRAIG HLAVATY