Big Cat, self-titled (Mark One). An intriguing enough prospect to bring former Fabulous Thunderbirds manager out of semi-retirement to release the debut record on his own label, Big Cat primarily pairs longtime Austin singing star Malford Milligan with veteran guitarist/producer Dave Sebree, but ups the ante by bringing in the ace rhythm section of Roscoe Beck and Les Fisher plus keyboardist Stefano Intelisano. At their best, the quintet produces first class sophisticated pop based in blues/roots forms, as on the upbeat and tuneful "Under the Bridge," a co-write between Milligan, Sebree, Beck and Stephen Doster. The minor-key "Thief of Hearts" allows Milligan’s vocals to mine a darker vibe alongside some of Sebree’s best guitar work on the disc, while the six-minute tracks "Any Day Like Yesterday" and "Onward" benefit from the sound and feel Intelisano sets with brilliant piano and organ fills. The midset number "Ain’t That Sexy" is a glaring misstep, an overwrought showoff tune that indeed ain’t that sexy at all, but Milligan rebounds nicely with the old-school pop-soul charmer "Nothing But Love." Release show Oct. 29 at Continental Club, in-store Oct. 30 at Waterloo Records.

Jonathan Terrell, "Past the Lights of Town." When major-league producer Bob Ezrin got involved with local heavy-rock band Not in the Face, they seemed likely to go big. But perhaps it’s a good thing they didn’t, because the next step for frontman Jonathan Terrell became this 11-track sharp turn into country-folk songcraft. Clearly Terrell is simply a top-notch songwriter who excels at whatever genre to which he applies himself, but "Past the Lights of Town" is a strong fit because it puts the emotional pull of his vocals out front. Terrell’s not trying to pitch his camp with the red-dirt crowd here; this isn’t Randy Rogers/Wade Bowen fare. Rather, it’s a roadmap to where Paul Westerberg might have gone if he’d further explored to the more acoustic moments of the Replacements, or a 2010s parallel to 1990s Seattle troubadour Gerald Collier’s records after he left postpunkers Best Kissers in the World. Mostly, though, Terrell just sounds very comfortable in his own shoes here, whether he’s reaching high for the bittersweet chorus in "When I Woke Up," laying low for the down-and-out verses of "Little Bird" hitting the twang hard on the pedal steel-heavy waltz "Somebody’s Got to Love Her." Release show Oct. 29 at Lamberts. Here’s the midtempo mood piece "Houston Blues":

[youtube=]

Grupo Fantasma, "Problemas" (Blue Corn). Check out American-Statesman/Austin360 writer Nancy Flores’ full feature story on the contemporary Latin band’s new album at mystatesman.com. Release show Oct. 30 at Mohawk. Here’s "Porque," their brilliant reworking of the Beatles’ "Because":

Also check out our360 Mixtape, with Deborah Sengupta Stith and Eric Webb looking at the latest non-local releases.

COMING SOON

NOV. 6: Robert LaRoche, "Patient Man," release show Nov. 6 at Strange Brew.

NOV. 14: Standing Waves, "Here Comes the Twist Again" EP, release show Nov. 14 at Hole in the Wall.

NOV. 28: Broken Gold, "Turning Blue" EP, in-store Nov. 28 at End of an Ear.

JAN. 16, 2016: Matt the Electrician with Little Brave, "Mountains"/"20/20" 7-inch.

JANUARY 2016: Michael Fracasso, "Here Come the Savages."

JANUARY 2016: Calliope Musicals, "Time Owes You Nothing."

Are you an Austin-area act with a new record coming out? Let us know at musicsource@statesman.com.