When the Berkshire Hounds disbanded in 2015, their fans went through the six stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and – finally – checking out Jim Campo’s new band the Magic Rockers of Texas. To no one’s surprise, the gifted guitarist and irrepressibly snotty singer again struck gold, this time fronting a scrappy quartet playing catchy, attitude-driven rock with shades of garage, druggie country, and punk. Debut EP Rugged Braids proffers anthems of love and stubbornness.– Kevin Curtin
Christmas Eve, 2016. Feeling charitable on my drive home, I actually stopped for a hitchhiker outside Mansion, the now-defunct strip joint on Springdale. Unbelievably, R. Kelly hopped into the passenger seat, ranting and raving about … “Weird Al” Yankovic. The R&B lothario blamed his floundering career on the iconic satirist’s 2006 opus “Trapped in the Drive-Thru,” a parody of Kelly’s staggering, 33-chapter rap opera, “Trapped in the Closet.”
“People want sexy!” shouted the Chicago-born singer, 50. “There’s nothing sexy about arguing over dinner, or finding a piece of toast in your wife’s teeth, or talking to a dorky drive-through cashier named Eugene.”
What if, I ventured, our sexually advanced society has simply outgrown such insipid promises as “My sex is poetic, I’m about to get you mad pregnant”? Perhaps the flak surrounding Kelly’s current tour has to do with his supposed morally reprehensible past, as recently addressed by local hip-hop booker Matt Sonzala and Texas Music Office coordinator Marc Fort.
“No, motherfucker,” he snapped. “The only ‘morally reprehensible’ thing I ever did was let Curly-Q turn my tale of suspense, betrayal, romance, comedy, and tragedy into a song about Big Macs!”
Kelly wasn’t getting it. I had to address the elephant in the car.
“R.,” I began cautiously. “Video footage exists of you allegedly … relieving yourself on an underage girl. You were indicted on 21 counts of child pornography. I don’t know how else to say this, but you’re a fucking pervert!”
Kelly leveled his gaze and took a deep breath.
“Listen, homie,” he said menacingly. “There’s only one pervert here, and it’s that polka-loving fuck who ruined my masterpiece. He better keep his ass in Lynwood if he knows what’s good for him.”
I couldn’t bear to listen anymore. As I neared my apartment, I dropped Kelly at Whataburger to terrorize unsuspecting diners. No drive-through this time.– Bryan Rolli
From 2002 debut Reinventing Axl Rose to last year’s Shape Shift With Me, Floridian brand Against Me!’s cache of virulent punk anthems coalesces acoustic ruminations and bulldozed percussion outlining the classic battle of personal identity amidst political turmoil. A focal point of Transgender Dysphoria Blues (2014), this struggle preserves singer Laura Jane Grace’s transgender trials in 2012. Being unabashedly yourself remains the truest punk of all.– Alejandra Ramirez
Kevin Russell’s roots feast serves up one the best shows in Austin: horns, harmonies, and the frontman’s genius genre-bending revelry. Celebrating fourth LP I Got Your Medicine, Shinyribs amalgamates swamp pop, Memphis R&B, and down-home funky, all cut with a wry humor and untamable energy. Album producer and Squirrel Nut Zipper Jimbo Mathus unloads greasy Southern roots to open.– Doug Freeman