It came from Austin! And no, I'm not talking about the yearly South by Southwest festival, or even the roots of the alt-country movement itself. No, the real news from Austin is the release this week of "Stranger," the new album from that city's most beautifully strange band, Balmorhea. Untold treasures await the listener brave – or patient – enough to let this epic blanket of sound fall around them. You can, as George Harrison once suggested, "arrive without leaving" if you dim the lights, fire up a candle, and crank the holy hell out of this album of eloquent instrumentals.
This music is all about the sprawl, the manner in which the musicians interact and react to the melodic line, in the process creating a patchwork quilt of sound that builds toward … something. I'm not quite sure what. And I like that.
It will be interesting to witness Balmorhea – the band name is taken from the small west Texas town where the musicians grew up – transforming this material on the concert stage. We'll have that chance beginning at 8 p.m. on Wednesday, when the group shares the bill with the equally esoteric and wonderful Lazlo Holyfeld at Mohawk Place, 47 E. Mohawk St.; $10 gets you in the door.
Check out a beautifully shot mini-documentary on Balmorhea, titled "Masollan," at Vimeo.com.
Here's one for the denizens of the punk wasteland. You may know them more from the bands they formed after splitting up – Pere Ubu and the Dead Boys among them – but Cleveland's Rocket from the Tombs is widely held to be one of the seminal noise-punk groups to have emerged from the 1970s. The original group was only active for some 18 months before the camp split into two factions – Gene O'Connor (aka Cheetah Chrome) and Johnny Madansky leaned toward garage rock and formed the Dead Boys; Peter Laughner and David Thomas got all Captain Beefheart and freaky, forming Pere Ubu. But the ferociously twisted din summoned by RFTT lived on through shoddily recorded bootlegs and an ever-burgeoning myth.
Most of the original group re-formed in 2003, with intermittent performances ever since. The current touring lineup of RFTT features singer Thomas and bassist Craig Bell as the sole founding members in the house. The 2012 edition of RFTT comes to Mohawk Place, 47 E. Mohawk St., at 8 p.m. Saturday. The Magi Chippi and the High Flyin' Babys will open. Visit mohawkplace.com for ticket information.
If all you need is love, but all you want is dub, well, Sunday is your day. The dub-funk collective Yellow Dubmarine, already a veteran of a much buzzed-about "Abbey Dub" show at Nietzsche's, makes its way to Ellicottville for a gig at Balloons, 20 Monroe St., on Sunday beginning at 1 p.m. This time around, the collective will be covering the Beatles' "1" album, which means radically reggae-fied interpretations of every single No. 1 hit in the Fab Four's canon. Expect killer horn arrangements, slippery grooves and special guests, including Logo City, for your $10. Tickets are available at Balloons, or via ecepresents.com.
The Patti Parks Band will be offering its fiery brand of blues at Sinful Nightclub, 334 Delaware Ave., today beginning at 6:30 p.m.
Free jazz/avant-garde legend Joe McPhee brings his Trio X – featuring himself on sax and pocket trumpet, along with bassist Dominic Duval and drummer Jay Rose – to Hallwalls Contemporary Arts Center, 341 Delaware Ave., on Tuesday at 8 p.m. Admission is $15; Hallwalls members, $10; students and seniors, $12. Check out McPhee's work through TrioX.org.