Dale Watson & Ray Benson, “Dale & Ray” (Ameripolitan/Home). The respective kings of Austin honky-tonk and western swing have worked together before — Benson produced Watson’s 2004 album “Dreamland” — but this one’s a full-on collaboration, complete with a theme song. “The Ballad of Dale and Ray” balances country twang with comic relief, taking cues from yesteryear duos such as Moe Bandy & Joe Stampley. Musically, they’re at their best here on “Feelin’ Haggard,” a tribute to the late, great Merle. “Bus Breakdown” relates true tales of the touring vehicle that used to take Benson’s band Asleep at the Wheel across the country, and now does the same for Watson & His Lone Stars. Most of these 10 tracks were written specifically for this record, but they dipped into Willie Nelson’s deep well for, ironically, “Write Your Own Songs,” a pointed rebuke of mainstream country’s starmaker machinery. Release shows Jan. 7 at Gruene Hall and Jan. 8 at Broken Spoke.


JAN. 13: Band of Heathens, “Duende,” playing Feb. 23 at Mohawk.

JAN. 13: Hard Proof, “Stinger” (Modern Outsider), in-store Jan. 12 at Waterloo Records, release show Jan. 13 at Antone’s.

JAN.     18: Seela, “Track You Down,” release show Jan. 18 at Cactus Cafe.

JAN. 20: Matthew Squires, “Tambaleo.”

JAN. 20: Mark McKinney, “World in Between,” release show Jan. 19 at Saxon Pub.

JAN. 20: Sharon Bourbonnais, “A Girl’s Gotta Play,” release show Jan. 20 at Strange Brew.

JAN. 27: Whitney Rose, “South Texas Suite” EP (Six Shooter), release show Jan. 26 at Continental Club.

FEB. 3: Gurf Morlix, “The Soul & the Heal,” release show Feb. 4 at Strange Brew.

FEB. 3: Daisy O’Connor, “Lightchasers,” release show Feb. 3 at Cactus Cafe.

FEB. 10: Black Joe Lewis & the Honeybears, “Backlash” (Ingroove).

FEB. 10: Ulrich Ellison & Tribe.

FEB. 10: Letting Up Despite Great Faults, “Alexander Devotion” EP (Shelflife), playing Feb. 16 at Barracuda.

FEB. 10: Ali Holder, “Huntress Moon” EP, release show Feb. 10 at Cactus Cafe.

FEB. 17: Curtis McMurtry, “The Hornet’s Nest.”

FEB. 24: Shinyribs, “I Got Your Medicine,” release show March 3 at Antone’s.

FEB. 24: Scott H. Biram, “The Bad Testament” (Bloodshot).

MARCH 31: Toma, “Aroma.”

MARCH: Spoon, title TBA (Matador).