The Five Best Concerts In Houston This Week: Royal Blood, Paul Thorn, Tom Petty, etc.

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Photo courtesy of BB Gun PR
Royal Blood
Warehouse Live, September 23

Britpop is having a moment in the U.S. again, as groups as disparate as Arctic Monkeys and Bastille have been greeted by alt-rock stations and listeners alike with open arms. The latest to make a big noise is Royal Blood, the Brighton duo of Michael Kerr and Ben Thatcher whose Zep-meets-Nirvana stomp (via the Black Keys) has caught on like the flu with everyone from the BBC to Jimmy Kimmel Live. (Jimmy Page is also reportedly a fan, so they must be doing it the right way.) With their eponymous debut LP brand-new in stores, Kerr and Thatcher have hit the colonies on their first round of headlining dates. Take cover. CHRIS GRAY

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The 10 Best Concerts in Houston This Weekend: A Fistful of Soul, Untapped, Numbers' 36th, etc.

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Photo by Brittany Burke
Deep Cuts
Fitzgerald's, September 19

Deep Cuts have gone from first band of the night to last band on the bill in an impressive amount of time; less than two years by our watch. Honed by many, many shows in between (including a FPSF 2013 spot), Chase Harris and Zach Alderman's indie-pop partnership has finally yielded something ready to pass along in digital and physical form, the Love Grows EP.

Setting out to capture their Gulf Coast surroundings in five songs, Deep Cuts conjure surf and sand, their beloved Tex-Mex cuisine, and a sinister undertow in the sun-kissed guitar tones of Love Grows' five songs. Mission accomplished; put this in your "Causeway" playlist. With Young Girls, Limb, The Caldwell, Mikey & the Drags and Lisa's Sons (emcees). CHRIS GRAY

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The Five Best Concerts In Houston This Week: Overkill, Blaggards, Coheed and Cambria, etc.

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eOne Music
Over Kill today: Bobby "Blitz" Ellsworth, Derek "The Skull" Tailer, Dave Linsk, D.D. Verni, and Ron Lipnicki.
Overkill
Scout Bar, September 16

As the screamin' front man for New Jersey thrash-metal legends Overkill since Day 1 of the group's formation, Bobby "Blitz" Ellsworth has seen, experienced and learned a lot in three and a half decades. So what is the one piece of advice that his 2014 self might offer the 1980 Blitz? "Give up the fucking cigarettes, man," he laughs heartily. "Throw them away!"

Ellsworth's voice is in fine condition, and he can certainly hit those super-high notes, on the band's newest effort, White Devil Armory (eOne Records). While not a concept album per se, its 11 tracks are essentially short stories featuring a character, "the Armorist" who embarks on a journey of war, cage-fighting, medical emergencies, devils, politics and religion -- all set to brutal double bass drums, deep bass notes and shredding guitar solos. Rocks Off will have a full interview with Ellsworth Tuesday morning. BOB RUGGIERO

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The Five Best Concerts In Houston This Week: Aretha Franklin, Cory Branan, Lyle Lovett, etc.

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Photo Marc Brubaker
Aretha Franklin
Arena Theatre, September 9

Through no fault of her own, Aretha Franklin stumbled into 2014's more improbable headlines in July, when the Rock and Roll Hall of Famer (class of '87) stopped off to grab a post-concert burger at a Niagara Falls-area Johnny Rockets and was told her chosen table was reserved for dine-in customers only. This, the woman who has been a towering presence in the pop, gospel and soul spheres since the '60s, establishing a standard on signature songs like "Think," "Chain of Fools" and "(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman" that other singers have been trying to live up to ever since.

Most recently feted last year by Rhino's plush 97-song collection The Queen of Soul, Franklin is a national treasure -- as confirmed by her 1994 Kennedy Center award -- who should be allowed to eat her takeout wherever she damn well pleases. CHRIS GRAY

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The 20 Best Local Concerts Before Halloween

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Photo courtesy of CSMDP
Come See My Dead Person
Rudyard's, September 5

Arguably one of Texas' most interesting and eclectic acts, Come See My Dead Person are well-known for a gypsy-punk party that melds multiple musical styles with an insane amount of energy. If you can't make tonight's Rudz show, good news: they're playing Galveston's Cowboy's Cajun Kitchen the following evening. SELENA DIERINGER

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The 10 Best Concerts in Houston This Weekend: NEEDTOBREATHE, A Danseparc Wedding, etc.

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Photo by Sully Sullivan/Atlantic Records
NEEDTOBREATHE
Bayou Music Center, September 5

Without a whole lot of fanfare, South Carolina's NEEDTOBREATHE is probably the first band since Switchfoot to fully cross over from contemporary Christian music into the mainstream; beyond even that, they've become one of the biggest rock groups of the 21st century, period. Since their debut, 2006's Daylight, the group steered by brothers Bear and Bryant Rinehart have watched the audience for their acoustic-driven anthems and unapologetically positive messages swell, winning accolades aplenty and courting secular fans by touring with the likes of Collective Soul and even Taylor Swift.

Released this past April, fifth studio LP Rivers In the Wasteland became NEEDTOBREATHE's second album in a row to top Billboard's Rock Albums chart, and reached as high as No. 3 on the Billboard 200. With the Oh Hellos. CHRIS GRAY

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Joe Ely + Apple: A Love Story

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Photos courtesy of LC Media
Joe Ely, wisely holding a guitar instead of a shotgun
Improbably, Joe Ely is learning to ease up on the gas pedal a little. The Lubbock-bred performer has long been known for live sets and a work ethic both so intense he's often seen as a Lone Star counterpart to his friend Bruce Springsteen. But Ely, a force in Texas music since his days with cosmic-country trio the Flatlanders, recently wrapped a nice-and-easy Midwestern mini-tour with co-headliner and friend Alejandro Escovedo, and admits he can appreciate not pushing himself into the red all the time.

"I don't have to go through the same things I've already been through," says Ely from his home in Austin, where he has lived since the Flatlanders emigrated from the South Plains in the early '70s. "I've learned through experience. We still love to play, but I don't have to stay on the road the whole year anymore.

"I used to just stay out there," he admits. "One time in Lubbock I went out on a tour, and by the time I came back my car was gone and my house was gone. I was supposed to have been gone for a month and a half, and I was like gone for eight months. One tour led to the other."


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The Five Best Concerts in Houston This Week: Ray Wylie Hubbard, Omotai, Sucre, etc.

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Photo by Jason Wolter
Ray Wylie Hubbard
Main Street Crossing, September 3

Ray Wylie Hubbard likes to live by words he eventually set to music in the song "Mother Blues" from his 2012 album The Grifters' Hymnal: "The days I keep my gratitude higher than my expectations, well, I have really good days." The 67-year-old iconoclastic singer-songwriter is a holdover from Texas' progressive-country scare of the '70s, and pocketed plenty of mailbox money from writing Jerry Jeff Walker's Viva Terlingua! hit "Up Against the Wall, Redneck Mother."

But starting with his mid-'90s albums Lost Train of Thought and Loco Gringo's Lament, Hubbard began releasing music at a steady clip that has yielded ten more albums and improbably endeared Hubbard to both the good-timin' Texas Country scene (where he's something of a kindly uncle figure) and Americana aesthetes who can't stand that crowd. CHRIS GRAY

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The 30 Best Concerts In Houston Before Halloween

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Photo by Christian Faustus/High Voltage PR
Islands
Walters, September 6

Given the recent excitement of the Unicorns' first shows in a decade, opening some recent Arcade Fire dates, the good news that their Canadian indie successors Islands are headed back to town for the first time in a while should make a few townies happy. The show should be a burner, too. JIM BRICKER

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Always a Fighter, Bilal Learns to Let It Flow

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Photos courtesy of eOne Records
Smooth or sharp, Bilal delivers the goods.
It hasn't been an easy ride to international stardom for vocalist and composer Bilal Sayeed Oliver, who performs simply as Bilal. The Philly native, who roomed for a while with jazz pianist and Houston native Robert Glasper, almost quit the business when his second album was rejected by Interscope and then leaked to the Internet, where it has now racked up half a million downloads.

It was quite a setback for an artist who broke onto the scene with his 2001 album 1st Born Second and its smash single "Soul Sista," which soared to No. 18 on Billboard's R&B/Hip-Hop charts and established Bilal as an artist to be reckoned with. But after a period of introspection during which he worked with Glasper, Erykah Badu, Beyonce, Jay Z and the Roots, the multi-talented artist bounced back with 2010's Airtight's Revenge.


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