On The Record: Robert Earl Keen, Bob Schneider and more
OUT THIS WEEK
Robert Earl Keen, “Happy Prisoner: The Bluegrass Sessions” (Dualtone). As career detours go, this one’s pretty sublime. Keen will always first be known as a songwriter, but he’s also loved bluegrass all his life, and that’s apparent on this 14-song collection produced by Lloyd Maines. Keen’s longtime band is supplemented by several vocal ringers, including his hill country neighbor Peter Rowan on “Walls of Time” and “99 Years For One Dark Day,” his old college chum Lyle Lovett on “T for Texas” and Maines’ daughter Natalie on “Wayfaring Stranger.” Instrumental guests include Nickel Creek’s Sara Watkins on fiddle and the Greencards’ Kym Warner on mandolin. The banjo contributions of former Austinite Danny Barnes stand out in particular on Flatt & Scruggs’ “Hot Corn, Cold Corn,” which comes across like an outtake from Barnes’ old band Bad Livers. A run at Richard Thompson’s “52 Vincent Black Lightning” seems superfluous to the Del McCoury Band’s definitive bluegrass take, but everything else here is well-chosen and joyfully rendered. That Keen doesn’t have a high-lonesome voice ultimately doesn’t matter, as this is bluegrass of the “hardly strictly” variety. Playing Old Settler’s Music Festival April 18.
Bob Schneider, “The King Kong Suite Vol. 1” (Shockorama). The first in a series of three EPs to be released this year finds the ubiquitous Schneider largely in an orchestral frame of mind, turning sharply toward piano and strings on songs that frequently put sonic atmospherics front-and-center. Playing Feb. 14 at ACL Live.
Knifight, “V.” At seven songs, this local quintet’s latest may seem more like an EP, but three of the tracks clock in past 6 minutes. Their sound is synth-pop, though of the hard-edged, punk-influenced variety more than dance-band lightness.
Hooka Hey, “Untamed” EP. Down-and-dirty rock ’n’ roll from a band that formed in France but now resides in Austin. Release show Feb. 13 at Cheer Up Charlie’s. Check out the title track:
GOBI, “Gold on Black Ice.” The deluxe reissue of the trio’s most recent record features five new tracks that extend the range of their dance-heavy electronica. The new cut “Lost in the City” features an unlikely cameo from 2009 “American Idol” semifinalist Kendall Beard.
John Arthur Martinez, “If Stars Could Sing” (JAM). The latest collection of country tunes from the 2004 “Nashville Star” runner-up helps launch a new once-a-month residency gig at El Sol y La Luna, which will include an album-release show on Feb. 15.
Shakey Graves, “Nobody’s Fool.” The rising star’s surprise release on Bandcamp, posted Monday morning in conjunction with his last-minute show at Empire Monday night, is an 11-song name-your-price collection highlighted by a live cover of the Disney classic “A Dream Is a Wish Your Heart Makes.” Playing Feb. 13 on “The Late Show with David Letterman” on CBS.
FEB. 24: James McMurtry, “Complicated Game” (Complicated Game Records).
FEB. 24: Quiet Company, “Trangressor” (Modern Outsider), release show Feb. 21 at Empire Control Room.
FEB. 24: Mayeux & Broussard, “High Times and Good Rhymes,” release party Feb. 21 at Stubb’s.
FEB. 24: Parker McCollum, “The Limestone Kid” (Indie Extreme).
FEB. 24: The Zoltars, self-titled (Happenin/Burger), release show Feb. 27 at Hotel Vegas.
FEB. 24: Amanda Cevallos, “The High Hands,” release show Feb. 26 at Continental Club.
FEB. 24: Texas Never Whispers, self-titled, release show Feb. 28 at the Mohawk.
FEB. 25: Xetas, “The Redeemer” (12XU), release show Feb. 25 at Hotel Vegas.
FEB. 27: Shane Cooley, “Kings Highway,) release show Feb. 27 at Spider House Ballroom.
MARCH 3: Asleep at the Wheel, “Still the King: Celebrating the Music of Bob Wills and His Texas Playboys” (Bismeaux), with many special guests. Playing Feb. 14 at Luckenbach Dancehall.
MARCH 3: Luke Jacobs, “Velvet After Feel,” produced by Carrie Rodriguez.
MARCH 3: Cherubs, “2 Ynfynyty” (Black Panda).
MARCH 6: Happen-Ins, “Glamour Shots” (Avenue West). Release show March 6 at the Mohawk, vinyl-release in-store April 23 at Waterloo Records.
MARCH 10: Bright Light Social Hour, “Space Is Still the Place” (Frenchkiss), release show March 27 at Stubb’s.
MARCH 10: Joe Pug, “Windfall” (Lightning Rod).
MARCH 10: Chubby Knuckle Choir, “Reveille.”
MARCH 31: Milkdrive, “Places You’ve Not Been,” playing March 14 at Cactus Cafe.
APRIL 7: East Cameron Folkcore, “Kingdom of Fear,” release shows April 1-4 at Salvage Vanguard Theater.
APRIL 7: Ray Wylie Hubbard, “The Ruffian’s Misfortune” (Bordello/Thirty Tigers), playing Old Settler’s Music Festival April 17.
MAY 12: Joe Ely, Title TBA.
SPRING: Dale Watson, “Call Me Insane” (Red House/Ameripolitan).
Are you an Austin-area act with a new record coming out? Let us know at email@example.com.