Shakey Graves, David Ramirez Fitzgerald's, December 29
Shakey Graves, the musical alter ego of Austin's Alejandro Rose-Garcia, is fast becoming the name to drop among the scruffy aspiring singer-songwriter set. As heard on the 2011 debut Roll the Bones, Graves' DIY patchwork of folk and blues - accentuated by a kick-drum fashioned out of an old suitcase - struck a chord with hipsters and older roots-music aficionados alike.
Released in October, new LP And the War Came keeps the charge going, recently sending the single "Dearly Departed" into AAA radio's Top 10. Come early for David Ramirez, whose own material works through the same interpersonal issues, albeit in a somewhat mellower key.
Propaghandi Warehouse Live, December 29
Known for their extreme left-wing activism, this Canadian agit-punk group's roots date back nearly three decades, but their big break came after sharing an early-'90s bill with NOFX. As the story goes, they impressed Fat Mike with a cover of Cheap Trick's "I Want You to Want Me" so much that he signed the men from Manitoba to his Fat Wreck label and lured them to L.A. to record 1993 debut album How to Clean Everything. Today Propaghandi is as staunch as ever, steered by founding members Chris Hannah and Jord Somolesky, and recent albums have included 2008's Failed States and 2012's Supporting Caste. With RVIVR and War on Women.
John Egan The Big Easy, December 29
Give John Egan credit for taking chances. The longtime solo Houston bluesman's latest 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.
Story continues on the next page.
Spoon House of Blues, December 30
The name of the game with Spoon is "seamless." Britt Daniel and Jim Eno's Austin-based group has, so incrementally it's almost imperceptible, become one of the most successful indie bands of the past 20 years. But Daniel needed a break following 2010's Transference, so he went off to make and tour a record with his other band Divine Fits while Eno ran his hopping-busy recording studio, Public Hi-Fi.
Then this past summer Spoon picked up without skipping a beat -- the uber-precise Eno would never let that happen -- and released They Want My Soul, which mixes up Daniel's trademark stiff-upper-lip grinders such as "Rent I Pay" and the title track with fascinatingly gorgeous anomalies like the time-freezing "Inside Out" and "Outlier." With I Love You But I've Chosen Darkness.
Winter Wonder Glam Rudyard's, December 30
Rudyard's annual pre-New Years Eve ball, the "Winter Wonder Glam" is basically just an excuse for local music fans to put on something besides shorts if they want to, but the bands are usually killer. So break out those tails, because this year's WWG is headlined by the incomparable Dead Roses, Ralf Armin's slow-cooking art-punk ensemble that may not be the tightest band ever assembled, but will easily bring on a bout of spastic convulsions and copious head-nodding.
The other side of the coin is Silver Blueberry, whose paisley-stained LP Twin Reverberation is one of the better neo-psychedelic albums to come out of the local garage scene in a while.
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