Bruce Robison & Kelly Willis McGonigel's Mucky Duck, March 8
Spouses tempting fate by naming their new record Cheater's Game? Nah, just the "First Couple of Texas Country Music" rewarding fans with the couple's first-ever full-album collaboration, to go with any number of guest spots on each other's songs over the years.
Alternating covers by the likes of Robert Earl Keen and the Blasters with about a half-dozen worldly-wise Robison originals, Cheater's Game radiates acoustic warmth, Cajun-spicy fiddle parts and an easy familiarity. A great front-porch album. The couple will also play a free in-store at Cactus Music at 5:30 p.m. CHRIS GRAY
22nd Annual KTRU Outdoor Show With Cloud Nothings, Fat Tony, B L A C K I E, Buxton, Teen Daze, Delicate Steve and Featherface Rice University, March 9
The 22nd Annual KTRU Outdoor Show is headlined this weekend by Cleveland's Cloud Nothings, who shill a witchy mix of Weezer poppery, Nirvana scrawl and Dinosaur Jr. wall-of-noise blitz. Houston's own globetrotting rappers Fat Tony and B L A C K I E will be on hand for local support, and Buxton will be fresh off a Hawaiian tour.
Local workhorses Featherface seem to be on track to play two to three shows a week behind last year's Actual Magic. Music starts at noon; see ods.ktru.org for details. CRAIG HLAVATY
The Band Perry Reliant Stadium, March 9
From the Gulf shores of Mobile, Alabama, the Band Perry raises the stakes for mixed-gender mainstream-country acts such as Lady Antebellum and Little Big Town by adding the kind of harmonies only siblings can sing. Kimberly, Reid and Neil Perry made an auspicious debut when their eponymous late-2010 LP shot three singles into Billboard's Country Top 10, and showed real staying power with "Better Dig Two," their harrowing (and a little disturbing) recent crossover hit about love beyond the grave. Sophomore effort Pioneer is due later this year; concert begins after the evening's rodeo. CHRIS GRAY
Pinback Fitzgerald's, March 9
Rocks Off spent most of Thursday acquainting ourselves with Pinback's back catalog, because the Bay San Diego-based crew has a very persistent publicist. Now we consider that time well spent, because we don't spend an entire afternoon listening to one indie-rock band straight through very often, let alone enjoying it.
Steered by Armisted B. Smith and Rob Crow, Pinback is a model of consistency from last year's Information Retrieved through at least the early songs on 2001's Blue Screen Life, songs that are generally unhurried and thoughtful, always melodic, but have their moments of turmoil and bite. The Shins are an easy reference point, but these guys predate even James Mercer's melancholy crew. If Pinback had a better publicist until now, we'd have been fans for a while. CHRIS GRAY
Alt-J Fitzgerald's, March 10
It's March again, when the buzz bands hit Texas on their way to and from SXSW and 35 North, so expect to be hearing from Alt-J again. (To wit, this show is already sold out, so brush up on those Craigslist skills.) Owners of precisely one album, last year's An Awesome Wave, the young Cambridge, UK quartet practices the same sort of bracing alt-pop as Of Monsters and Men and Clap Your Hands Say Yeah!, and no doubt have an exhilarating few weeks ahead of them. With Hundred Waters. CHRIS GRAY
SEVEN OTHER SHOWS YOU SHOULD CONSIDER
Tim McGraw: The chiseled country hunk makes his umpteenth RodeoHouston appearance. Truck yeah! (Reliant Stadium, March 8)
Ricky Skaggs: Bluegrass master and band Kentucky Thunder pay a call on the "music barn" in The Woodlands. (Dosey Doe, March 8)
Eels: What's-his-name's brainy L.A. alt-pop band will have all the music nerds rejoicing behind new album Wonderful, Glorious. (Warehouse Live, March 8)
Dax Riggs, duneTX: Howlin' the blues and a little power-pop in Montrose's Living Room. (Rudyard's, March 8)
Texas Hippie Coalition: Hardest-rockin' band in the Lone Star State. Promise. (Scout Bar, March 9)
They Might Be Giants: What's-their-names' brainy NYC alt-pop duo is back making music for adults on the brand-new Nanobots. (House of Blues, March 9)
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Willie Nelson: This name sounds strangely familiar for some reason, but we can't quite place it. Does he have red hair, maybe? (Arena Theatre, March 10)