Before the Lights Go Out

One last local look

Before the Lights Go Out

The Nortons and Friends Hip Replacement (Pipebomb Records)

The tongue-in-cheek title says it all to a generation who grew up appreciating slow dancing and backseats. That the Nortons – Will Indian, Speedy Sparks, John X Reed, and Rusty Trapps – sound a good deal like the Rhythm Rats is no surprise. They’re essentially the late, loved quartet sounding fine on their own, with guest vocalists like Andrew Teekell and Homer Henderson. It’s all the right stuff done the right way but nothing beats the ageless Miss Lavelle White tearing up Slim Harpo’s “Shake Your Hips” and her own righteous “Low Down Man.” Forget about trends, the Nortons are angst-free Texas blues-rock for the over-50 set.

Dead Pyrates Society Tempus Fugit

The heavyweights from the Texas music history books roll out their debut EP with a maraca-shaking Stones-y groove. Messrs. Kennedy, Randall, Hamilton, and Staehely stake their credentials in solid rock acts, from JoJo Gunne to Max Pageant and Gary Myrick, and it shows in their booming authority throughout the tight five-song offering. The only thing that this little rough-and-tumble gem needs is the Pyrates’ badass version of “The Eyes of Texas.” Standouts: “V.P. Confidential,” “When Evil Comes Along,” “Graveyard Dead.”

Beth Lee Cassette Tapes & Cash Money

Ron Flynt’s been busy this year, lending his production talents to numerous CDs, including Beth Lee’s Cassette Tapes & Cash Money. Lee’s story has a familiar ring – she came to UT and stayed to play the clubs – and her music resounds comfortably within the singer-songwriter realm. Rootsy-folkie-bluesy-country, Lee wraps them up prettily and presents them as a charming package. Standouts: “You Don’t Get Me High,” “Big Guitars.”

Astrah Delta Waves (Flywheel)

Not many artists are venturing near Marshall Styler’s universe of atmospheric music, yet Astrah orbits nearby. A different sort of one-man band, Astrah is Jason Smith, whose touch with ambient music is firm and unwavering across a broad aural landscape that alluringly mixes music and sound – really wonderful for the recent overcast days. Standouts: “Delta Waves,” “Avitar,” “Woodblocks.”

Danny Levin Nutbars

“No guitars were touched in the creation of this product” boasts the sleeve of Danny Levin’s latest. The multi-instrumentalist best known for his years with Asleep at the Wheel delivers this sweet coda to 2008, a thoroughly delightful mixture of Texas swing and rootsy cowjazz with a touch of Hoagy Carmichael that sounds reassuringly familiar even when they’re new. Standouts: “Sweet Lorraine,” “Doggin’ Around,” “Danny Boy.”

Miss Lauren Marie I’m No Good Without You (Texas Jamboree)

Forget the Lady Day gardenia tucked behind her ear, Miss Lauren Marie is all roots-rockabilly with one of the best voices in Austin. Combining classics from Moon Mullican (“What Have I Done That Made You Go Away”) and Chet Atkins (“Midnight”) with the ever-rockin’ Horton brothers (“One Broken Heart,” “So Long”), Miss Lauren Marie’s silky vocals bop and croon over the 13 tracks. The perfect record to pull out when it’s just you and your sweetie.

Lightning Red The Groovemaster (LR Productions)

Lightning Red’s hard traditional and slide guitar is served well by the dozen originals within, especially mixed with the Hammond-style organ. He’s helped by LZ Love, with whom he plays regularly and who adds her soulful vocals. Their duet of “Change Is Gonna Come” boasts a gut bucket sheen that is the CD’s highlight among his many fine shadings of the blues (“The Meek,” “Do the Revolution,” “The Shake”).

Will Callery Rider Comin’ In

This wonderful recording rides shotgun in a pickup to a place where Ray Wylie Hubbard and Marty Robbins meet and swap tales. Callery is old-school Texas songwriting from the days of Castle Creek, no surprise with the likes of T. Gosney Thornton and Eddie Cantu in the mix. Rider is rich with hardscrabble imagery and lyrical storytelling with the deep spiritual satisfaction of watching the sun set in the Texas western sky.

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