Mikey and the Drags Mango's, August 11
Mikey and the Drags are the type of band that you need to see late at night in a small dank club after you've put a few (dozen) down to really appreciate their greatness. Their garage-y surf-punk sound was obviously a void that needed to be filled in the Houston scene; last week they won an HPMA for Best Garage/Punk/Hardcore thanks in large part to their On the Loose EP.
A few members might look familiar from other Houston bands (drummer Andrew Lee from Wild Moccasins; organist Austin Sepulvado from Buxton), but front man Miguel "Mikey" Ponce is who really draws people in. His energy is unmatched by anyone else fronting a band these days in Houston, which makes the Drags quite addictive to see live. With Beach Day and Sons of Hippies. JIM BRICKER
Free Radicals AvantGarden, August 11
Free Radicals is both Nick Cooper's revolving-door ensemble that at any given moment could be playing free jazz or Latin funk, and also Cooper's ongoing testimonial to how much he digs being a member of the Houston music community. He has so much experience at this point that he has very much become a one-man hub of that community.
In 2012, Cooper brought that same kind of musical civic pride to the Free Rads' first album in several years, The Freedom Fence, and watched it win a well-deserved Houston Press Music Award for Local Album of the Year. Last week at the 2014 HPMAs, they won yet again for Best Jazz, a category they have virtually retired. Their weekly jam, wherever it may be, is a true local-music institution. CHRIS GRAY
Thao & the Get Down Stay Down Fitzgerald's, August 13
Now in her early thirties, Thao Nguyen practices an utterly charming brand of folk-pop that could either be the product of careful planning or, just as easily, making it all up as she goes along. The Washington, D.C.-area native now leads the San Francisco-based band Thao & the Get Down Stay Down, who have set up shop in the middle part of left-field Americana; her last appearance in Houston was opening for Neko Case at House of Blues, if that tells you anything.
The group's latest album, 2013's We the Common, is brimming with the kind of ebullient melodies and ingrained quirkiness that all but ensure Nguyen's spot as one of the indie world's most unique voices for years to come. With the Wheel Workers. CHRIS GRAY
More shows on the next page.
The Both Fitzgerald's, August 14
The Both, aka Aimee Mann and Ted Leo, is a direct outgrowth of their joint tour last year, but fans from both camps could have guessed such a thing might occur long before that. If they were still in school, both brainy singer-songwriters -- she the voice of Til Tuesday and the Magnolia soundtrack, he leader of longtime emo-punk crusaders Ted Leo & the Pharmacists -- would be in the top ten percent when it came to verbal skills, and much higher in matching their words to melodies that burrow straight to the base of the ear canal. The duo's eponymous album, released in April, collects 11 sharp-witted and intriguing songs that are obviously the result of effortless collaboration, line by line in most cases. With Lemuria. CHRIS GRAY
Thrill Continental Club, August 14
You'd better catch Thrill Thursday, because once the fall semester starts it might be a little tough to do that on a school night. Literally -- the trio is made up of three of Houston's hardest-rocking teens, who go to town on the jagged riffs and thunderous drums of greats like Nirvana, Ramones, the Sonics and more. But check out their Bandcamp page, and you'll see that Thrill have applied those three-chord lessons quite well to original tunes like "Pest" and "Comatose." CHRIS GRAY
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