Another quiet week early in 2014 nevertheless features a few great shows, including Nashville goofballs Royal Bangs on Thursday at Club Dada, a heavyweight metal bill at Lola's Saloon and our own hip-hop showcase at Granada Theater (not featured below, for obvious reasons).
The Mother Hips
Thursday, January 9, Dan's Silverleaf, Denton
The Mother Hips
Much like Texas, California is a state whose essence can be heard in many of the bands that come from it. You can guess the regional origins of San Francisco's The Mother Hips almost immediately. It's not that the Tim Bluhm-led group is a one-trick pony, though. Through 23 years and 14 LPs, EPs and live albums, the band has expertly covered musical terrain almost as diverse as the ecology of the Golden State itself. Last year's excellent, long-awaited Behind Beyond showcases tunes that rival anything the band has produced before. The sweet and sadly beautiful "Song for J.B.," written for former Wilco mad scientist Jay Bennett, talks of the "hippie highway" over acoustic strums, a mid-tempo beat and the cries of a pedal steel while the title track has a Haight-Ashbury vibe of psychedelia. It's quite the feat that the Mother Hips can create an entire album that feels pleasant without being perky and that sounds laid-back without being completely stoned and sleepy. Kelly Dearmore
Thursday, January 9, at Dada
There is something to be said for not taking yourself too seriously. God knows the guys in Royal Bangs don't. Jangly rockers like "Octagon" and "Better Run" are engaging enough with their respective themes of resisting being "normal" and shouting from the heavens to let the world know you aren't the loser everyone expected you to be. But their videos take the cake. The "Octagon" clip includes a series of random shots of debris flying into the camera and models punching band members' faces to make them spit out their food. And in "Better Run," guys charge at each other, joust-style, so they can nail each other with cakes. Meanwhile, a portly, scantily clad male sits on a horse and plays a saxophone. Randomness, thy name is Royal Bangs. Brian Palmer
Friday, January 10, at the Kessler Theater
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This should prove to be an interestingly transitional year for Austin's Del Castillo. The Latin-rock fusion outfit has gone through some major changes. After 12 years fronting the band, lead singer Alex Ruiz was replaced and Del Castillo are just now heading into the studio to record a new album with Ruiz's replacement, Danny Ortiz. With either lead singer, Del Castillo should still offer fans a fiery blend of blues, rock and Latin grooves. Brothers Rick and Mark del Castillo still know how to mix genres and tempos like no other fusion act in the state, so this newest incarnation of their band should not disappoint old fans or newcomers just wanting to experience one of the best live shows around. Darryl Smyers
Friday, January 10, at Lola's Saloon, Fort Worth
We are less than two weeks into the new year and we already have one of the heaviest bills of 2014. Bring earplugs and maybe holy water. Pallbearer and Pinkish Black both recently released albums that rank among the best metal records of the last few years. Solomon are among the most intense live experiences we have ever seen. On Friday at Lola's, you will be treated to a little bit of everything. And by "treated," I mean ravaged; and by "little bit," I mean a sensory flare akin to a dying planet. There will be the heady synth environments of Pinkish Black, the slow blossoming doom expanses of Pallbearer, and the Goliath apocalyptic groans of the veteran Solomon. This is the stuff metalheads' wet dreams are made of. Amplifiers will yield, floors will shiver and stomachs will flip. Jonathan Patrick