"Reflektor" Listening Party Cactus Music, September 9
According to early reports, Arcade Fire's first album in three years sounds more "contemparary" than the band's previous work, which can be a little on the furrowed-brow side. (Though not always, as in "Sprawl II (Mountains Beyond Mountains) from previous LP The Suburbs.) Now the gears for that album, easily one of the most anticipated of the fall, have begun turning; the first piece of the puzzle, the single "Reflektor," due in stores Monday night.
So those of you not glued to the Texans game, the listening party for "Reflektor" Monday night may not be a concert, but it sure sounds like an event. According to Cactus, which secured exclusive rights to spin and sell the new single -- an extended 12" job that might have more new Arcade Fire stuff too -- football-shunning fans can look forward to free posters, stickers, buttons and St. Arnold's. Its parent album, also called Reflektor, is reportedly due October 29. CHRIS GRAY
Tianna Hall Sambuca, September 9
You could argue that Tianna Hall is the best jazz singer in all of Houston. I mean, you could argue against it, too, but it's like arguing that the moon landing was faked. Her smoky voice is a fine mix of skill and improvised magic, and it's landed her on the Grammy nomination ballot three times. Name any high-class Houston gathering that could use a set of pipes on loan from an angel, and Hall has been there owning the stage. JEF WITH ONE F
Paul Ramirez Band Continental Club, September 11
A weekly gig is about the best way for guitarists to hone their craft, and Houston's Paul Ramirez has done just that Wednesday nights at the Continental for more than a year now. It paid off last year with Sex With a Dragon, his debut CD that throws in a little Santana and New Orleans R&B into Ramirez's stick-to-your-ribs Texas blues-rock and shows some salty reverence towards Blind Lemon Jefferson's "See That My Grave Is Kept Clean."
Dragon breathes enough fire that it doesn't wilt when held up to the gold standard of recent Lone Star guitarslinger offerings, Gary Clark Jr.'s Blak and Blu. CHRIS GRAY
Rhett Miller McGonigel's Mucky Duck, September 12
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Since 2002's The Instigator, Rhett Miller has carved out a nice little sideline making solo albums that showcase his skill with pairing winsome melodies to romantic lyrics, without all that darned electricity that marks his main gig in Dallas alt-country heroes the Old 97's. During lulls in 97's activity, Miller has found found time to record and tour three more solo records - most recently last year's The Dreamer -- and, not surprisingly, become quite the indie heartthrob in the process. Bring a date. CHRIS GRAY
Raekwon Fitzgerald's, September 12
What's cooking with the Chef? The babyfaced Wu-Tang Clan MC debuted on the Staten Island crew's game-changing 1993 LP Enter the Wu-Tang: Return to the 36 Chambers and quickly made his solo bones on 1995's Only Built 4 Cuban Linx, often called the best Wu-Tang solo effort of them all. His lyrically complex and cinematic storytelling, coupled with a general fixation on Mafia culture, led one observer to label Raekwon's body of work a "gangsta Iliad."
As he's stuck close to the Wu-Tang fold -- the Clan's next and supposedly final album, A Better Tomorrow, is already overdue -- the Chef has racked up dozens of guest appearances on other artists' tracks and maintained a prolific solo career, issuing Vol. 2 of the Linx saga in 2009. He's scheduled to drop latest LP F.I.L.A. (Fly International Luxurious Art) later this month. CHRIS GRAY
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