Casper Rawls, "Brave World." Renowned for his long tenures with the LeRoi Brothers and Toni Price as well as his more recent Sunday afternoon "Planet Casper" residency at the Continental Club, guitarist Rick "Casper" Rawls somehow had never released a solo album until now. It’s easily one of the year’s best local records, with Rawls backed by a prime local cast including David Grissom, Glenn Fukunaga, Floyd Domino, Warren Hood and Dony Wynn. Rawls’ sharp instinct for material that suits his style draws him toward terrific takes of songs by George Harrison (the opening "Any Road"), Walter Hyatt ("Houston Town") and J.J. Cale ("Thirteen Days"). But it’s the originals that take center stage. "Angeline" rivals the best classic pop in Buddy Holly’s book, "I’m Living It" sets classic honky-tonk twang to a brilliant lyric ("If you need more proof than that, I’m living it"), and the joint gets rocking on the clever Suzy Elkins co-write "Don’t They Know (Who We Think We Are)." The capper is an album-closing cut about Rawls’ guitar-slinging heroes called "The Day That Don Rich Died," for which the chaser is a wonderfully humorous, previously unreleased tune by Rawls’ late friend Buck Owens called "A Little Bitty Piece of DNA," with Owens on lead vocals. Tied together by the sure-handed production of R.S. Field, "Brave World" is a lifelong pursuit that panned out perfectly. Playing at 3:30 p.m. May 3 (and most Sundays) at the Continental Club.
Bob Cheevers, "On Earth As It Is in Austin" (Private Angel). Released late last year but just now getting a promotional push, the ninth album from Cheevers, who moved to Austin from Nashville seven years ago, features 15 tracks of acoustic, rootsy material marked by his distinctive drawl. Add the title track to the list of tunes paying tribute to our city; it’s also a tribute of sorts to Willie Nelson, as are "You Sound Just Like Willie" and the revealingly titled "Blue Eyes Always on My Mind." Playing April 30 at Cypress Creek Cafe in Wimberley.
Mandy Rowden, "These Bad Habits." The self-released debut from folk-pop singer-songwriter Rowden features support from local luminaries including Redd Volkaert, Lloyd Maines and Brad Rice. Playing April 29 at One-2-One Bar.
Mark Rubin, "Southern Discomfort." Though he recently moved to New Orleans, the former Bad Livers bassist still has deep roots in the Austin scene. On this solo release, he mixes a variety of traditional genres and instruments on songs reflective of his humor such as "Seriously (aka Too Much Weed)" and an old-timey cover of Gil Scott-Heron’s "Whitey’s on the Moon."
OUT THIS WEEK
Holiday Mountain, "You Be You, Part 1" EP (Clean Bill). Seven tracks of deeply-processed dance-pop from the rising Austin trio. Fellow local up-and-comers Wild Child join in on the final track, "With You." Here’s the opening cut, "My Body":[soundcloud url="https://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/164031224"]
MAY 4: Paula Maya, "Illuminar" (Yellow House), release show May 7 at One-2-One Bar.
MAY 5: White Label Analog, "A Little More Time," release show May 7 at Stubb’s.
MAY 8: Son de Rey, "Ojos Azules," release show May 2 at Spider House Ballroom.
MAY 8: Redeye, "The Memory Layers," release show May 8 at the Mohawk.
MAY 9: The Naked Maja, self-titled (EP), release show May 9 at Empire Control Room.
MAY 12: Jimmy LaFave, "The Night Tribe" (Music Road), playing May 16 at Cherokee Creek Music Festival in Cherokee.
MAY 12: Abram Shook, "Landscape Dream" (Western Vinyl), release show May 15 at the Mohawk.
MAY 12: Lonesome Band, "Running Alone" (Icehouse), playing Wednesdays in May at Rattle Inn.
MAY 12: Sour Bridges, self-titled, release show May 8 at Scoot Inn.
JUNE 2: Willie Nelson & Merle Haggard, "Django and Jimmie" (Legacy), playing July 4 at Austin360 Amphitheater.
JUNE 9: Dale Watson, "Call Me Insane" (Red House/Ameripolitan).
JUNE 9: Uncle Lucius, "The Light" (Boo Clap/Thirty Tigers).
JUNE 16: Heartless Bastards, "Gates of Dawn" (Partisan).
JUNE: Joe King Carrasco, "Chiliando."
Are you an Austin-area act with a new record coming out? Let us know at email@example.com.