John Egan The Big Easy, July 28
Give John Egan credit for taking chances. The longtime solo Houston bluesman's new album, Amulet, is in some respects the polar opposite of its 2012 predecessor, Phantoms. Besides bringing in a few side musicians and respected Americana producer R.S. Field (Billy Joe Shaver, Webb Wilder), Egan has expanded his songwriting reach to include Latin-tinged jazz and melancholy pop, showing he's less reliant on his Resonator guitar's unforgiving tone but comfortable keeping the instrument as his anchor.
The end result is a softer mood than Phantoms, whose songs sometimes showed visibly bared teeth, but Amulet's overall disquieting feel suggests Egan has done little to ward off the same tormentors who were after him last time. CHRIS GRAY
Doughbeezy Warehouse Live, July 30
Released in February and now nominated for a Local Recording of the Year HPMA, Doughbeezy's third mixtape Footprints On the Moon understands its nature. It's a showcase for the lyricism and wit that's now expected of the young Houston rapper known as the "Southeast Beast," but without attempting to create an even more potent syrupy mix. Unlike punchline-heavy debut Reggie Bush & Kool Aid and the darker moments of sophomore tape Blue Magic, Footprints understands that the songs -- not just the handful of quotably hot lines -- will make it stand out harder. BRANDO
Peter Murphy Scout Bar, July 31
After a 2013 tour behind his back catalog that showed definite signs of goth fatigue, Peter Murphy sounds totally rejuvenated on last month's Lion, his first album of original material in three years and best in quite some time. On tracks like "I Am My Own Name" and "Compression," the 57-year-old singer sounds as gloomy and foreboding as he ever did fronting Bauhaus, but elsewhere Killing Joke evil genius Martin "Youth" Glover's aggressive industrial-rock production reaffirms Murphy's status as one of the pillars of alternative music with an exclamation point.
Oozing dark beauty, ominous mystery and twilight grandeur, Lion gleefully sinks its fangs into all the wannabes who -- even 35 years after "Bela Lugosi's Dead" -- still aren't fit to carry Murphy's cape. With My Jerusalem and the Abyss. CHRIS GRAY
More shows on the next page.
Steve Martin & the Steep Canyon Rangers Jones Hall, July 31
Banjo has been part of Steve Martin's stage act since his '70s standup comedy days, so it's especially funny to see the media treat the 68-year-old comic legend like music is some kind of hobby. Especially in this decade, the Waco-born Martin - 2005 winner of the Kennedy Center's Mark Twain Prize for Humor - has put his other careers as actor, author and social critic aside in favor of his bluegrass band the Steep Canyon Rangers, with which he has now won two Grammys.
Since the Rangers sold out Stafford Centre in April 2010, the band has taken on Dallas native Edie Brickell (of New Bohemians fame) as featured vocalist and released the album Love Has Come For You, which in turn led to a led to a live album earlier this year. Its whimsical tone and technical precision should be the order of the day when Martin, Brickell and the other Rangers join the Houston Symphony Thursday. CHRIS GRAY
Indian Jewelry Fitzgerald's, July 31
Houston's reclusive Indian Jewelry revels in both psychedelic drone and visceral throb, a recipe that has made them one of the most enigmatic and acclaimed musical units in Bayou City history. Often mingling plutonium-heavy Suicide-like electronica and prime Sonic Youth-style noise-rock, Tex Kerschen and Erika Thrasher's crew then serve it with an abundance of onstage strobe lights and a song or two per release that approaches actual pop accessibility (e.g. "Eva Cherie," from 2012's Peel It).
Now more than a decade old, IJ has perfected -- or at least trademarked -- an unfathomable sound that somehow remains oddly compelling. After appearing at the Austin Psych Fest earlier this summer, the band approaches Saturday's first official Houston show of 2014 surely looking to stage-test material for the album now in the works. With B L A C K I E, Jana Hunter and Wicked Poseur. CHRIS GRAY
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