Yr. (Early) Weekend, Pt. 1: The Wheel Workers + Father John Misty + Omotai + Inter Arma + Wilco + More

11021541_955537141132259_6891492703348534624_oAttempting to get a jump on things at least slightly this week (although as with all weeks, I’d intended to post this days ago; sigh). Tonight’s not quite the weekend, strictly speaking, but close enough, because it’s Thursday, April 23rd, and there’s some extremely cool stuff happening, a bit of which I want to mention:

The Wheel Workers/I Am The Albatross/Inside Voices @ Rudyard’s ($5)
Okay, so it isn’t their official album release show just yet — that’ll be on May 22nd, which means you should mark your calendars right damn now — but still, any show by The Wheel Workers merits a mention/recommendation, in my book. The band is truly one of the best, most interesting, most thoughtful pop-rock-ish bands going right now in this city, and they show no signs of stopping; instead, they keep right on rolling, crafting these gorgeous-yet-sharp, sly-smiling, tuneful, utterly memorable songs that refer to pages from the classic pop song playbook but then go off on their own and leave you with your mouth wide open, gaping.

That goes, by the by, not only for 2013’s stellar Past to Present, but also for forthcoming followup Citizens; I’ve been fortunate enough to be allowed a listen, and what I’ve heard so far is even better. Oh, and more theremin-y, which is never a bad thing, amirite?

Father John Misty/Luluc @ Fitzgerald’s (sold out!)
First off: yes, you read that right; the Father John Misty show tonight up at Fitzgerald’s is indeed sold the hell out. So really, the band doesn’t need me to be singing their praises at this point, because Houston, they’ve already got you exactly where they want you. (At the show. I swear that’s what I meant; nothing sinister intended.)

But heck, I’m going to sing those aforementioned praises anyway, because brand-new album I Love You, Honeybear dances an astoundingly tight spiral around both bitter cynicism and wide-eyed wonder, with former Fleet Foxes frontman Joshua/J. Tillman crooning soulfully about sex and the universe and stupidity and all the rest over the most ’70s-sounding, funky-sweet pop I’ve heard in quite a while. Seriously, if it weren’t for the “fuck”s and “shit”s scattered throughout, most of Honeybear wouldn’t sound out-of-place on AOR radio, and I mean that in a good way.

IMG_3609Inter Arma/Yautja/Omotai @ Fitzgerald’s
Then, on the other floor of Fitz (downstairs, I’m guessing, given Tillman’s relative big-ness), you can get your heaviness on. The band that gets the biggest thumbs-up from me is local outfit Omotai (der), who’ve mutated and morphed these past several years into a beast that may not be as messy or scary as its previous form was but which is just as colossal and awe-inspiring. Last year’s Fresh Hell is a titan-sized boulder of pure low-end sound rolling down a mountain, pushed from behind by a gang of wolves or something much, much worse, I’m not sure. Along the way they pick up lots of sharp edges and proggy bits and even some old-school hardcore fury, and it works beautifully. Trust me: get there early enough to see these guys.

Plus, headliners Inter Arma are themselves no slouches in the insanely-heavy, doom-y metal realm. Last year, the Virginians seemingly tried to out-Earth Earth, by releasing an “album” that was one 45-minute-long song entitled “The Cavern”, which meanders its way from ridiculously technical off-time parts to thundering, ponderously slow crushing parts to delicately melodic parts that make me think of Metallica’s quieter moments. It’s like an opera (and no, not a “rock opera,” just an opera) if it were scored by a metal band. Dang.

Wilco @ Bayou Music Center
Last but not least, yep, much-loved alt-rock/alt-country/experimental-ish outfit Wilco will be playing tonight up at Bayou Music Center (which I will think of as Verizon Wireless Theater pretty much ’til I die, in the same way that I will always think of Lakewood Church as The Summit), to the joyful ecstasy of dad-rock lovers from all ’round the H-town ‘hood.

Okay, okay, so I’m poking fun at my Wilco-loving fans out there — the truth is, I’m a Jay Farrar man more than a Jeff Tweedy man, more Son Volt than Wilco, and while I’ve always thought the actual rivalry between was overhyped and probably nonexistent in reality, I’d still rather listen to the former than the latter. But at the same time, I absolutely recognize that Wilco has gone in a far, far different direction from where they started, and recent best-of release What’s Your 20? demonstrates that a hell of a lot more ably than I’d expected it to. These guys have truly become alt-rock icons along the way, and dangit, now I feel like I need to go back and listen to it all again.

Runners-Up:
Ishi @ The Nightingale Room (308 Main)
Nick Gaitan & The Umbrella Man @ The Big Top
Hamilton Loomis/Amy Speace @ McGonigel’s Mucky Duck
Chance for Hope Foundation ’80s Prom Party, featuring The Spazmatics @ Redneck Country Club (Stafford)


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