Alt-J

On the heels of their new album This Is All Yours, which shot to No. 1 in the UK upon its release in September, the experimental electronic rock band Alt-J, from Leeds, England, is coming back to Houston.

The band is sometimes named with a delta sign, which can be made on a PC by pressing the alt and J keys on the keyboard—I dare you not to try it. The band was started at Leeds University, where the band members were forced play quietly since they were living in dorms; in the beginning, they avoided guitars or drums. The band introduced those instruments after leaving the dorms, but, in keeping with its origins, has maintained a softer, slower sound.

But its laid-back tempo is not the only thing that sets Alt-J apart from other indie bands. Lead singer Joe Newman’s high-pitched, unrestrained voice is striking in the single “Breezeblocks” off the band’s 2012 album An Awesome Wave (see video below). It’s often hard to tell what Newman is saying, but he always sounds great. Their latest single, “Left Hand Free,” has a catchy rhythm reminiscent of The Beatles circa Abbey Road. The rest of the album is slow and melodic, but seems likely to translate into a good show. Just as long as you don’t plan to sing along.

Nov 6 at 7. $35. Bayou Music Center, Bayou Music Center, 520 Texas Ave. 713-230-1600. bayoumusiccenter.com

Bastille

The English rock band Bastille’s breakthrough single “Pompeii” (see video below) made converts of many music fans. The sound was different, guttural yet symphonic, but the music was voice-driven. That’s Bastille in a nutshell: different, and striving to shock.  

The band has been heralded in the UK, but until “Pompeii” their fame hadn’t crossed the pond. Most of their award nominations and wins have come from abroad, but things are changing—they played Saturday Night Live last year and are currently on a major American tour, including a stop this weekend at the 8,000-seat NRG Arena.

Named for Bastille Day, which is also frontman Dan Smith’s birthday, the band was founded in London in 2010. In 2013 the band released its first major album, Bad Blood, which was then re-released in a deluxe version that included covers of everything from “Oh Holy Night to Lana Del Rey’s “Blue Jeans.” 

Last year, Smith told NME that the band’s next album will sound very different. "There will be some songs that'll be quite guitar heavy and dark, and at the moment I've been listening to a hell of a lot of R&B, so there might be some songs leaning that way.”

Nov 7 at 7:30. $35–39.50. NRG Arena, 1 Reliant Park. 800-745-3000. nrgpark.com

Modest Mouse

Bands typically tour for one of two reasons: to promote a new album or to celebrate a long musical career. Modest Mouse may have dropped their last album in 2007, but they’re still considered a marquee indie rock band, as evidenced by their headliner status at Austin’s Fun Fun Fun Fest this weekend.

But before they head to Austin, the band will swing through Houston on Friday night for a concert at the Bayou Music Center, their first appearance here in six years. They’ve obviously been missed—the show is officially sold out. The band, fronted by singer and guitarist Isaac Brock, is known for dark, moody songs with philosophical lyrics, but also for just plain rocking out.   

With half a dozen albums and EPs to their name, it’s astounding that they aren’t better known—the average person probably knows them best for 2004’s anthemic single “Float On,” with its shout-along chorus and joyous cacophony of sound (see video below). But maybe that will change. The band’s label has just re-released their first two albums on vinyl, accompanied by two 7" singles of previously unreleased songs.

Nov 7 at 7. Sold out (resale tickets available on website). Bayou Music Center, 520 Texas Ave. 713-230-1600. bayoumusiccenter.com

Nick Carter and Jordan Knight 

Nick Carter, Jordan Knight, and bandmates

Image: Flickr

Don’t adjust your computer screens—this is a real concert that is actually happening. Former Backstreet Boy turned bad boy Nick Carter has teamed up with former New Kid on the Block Jordan Knight for an album—and now a tour—named Nick & Knight. (Get it?) 

The two decided to collaborate in 2011, when NKOTB and BSB toured together. "We were talking about music all the time and joking around and just had a really cool relationship, and then the whole ‘Nick & Knight' thing came up," Carter told the Associated Press in September. "We decided, 'Hey, let's explore it,' and then it just kept evolving and evolving and eventually it turned into an entire album."

The duo said they wanted an opportunity to express themselves and create their own music outside of their boy band image. Knight described the sound they wanted as "sexy, funk, rhythmic-type music," although I’m positive James Brown is rolling over in his grave at having this album being described as “funk.” And God only knows what “rhythmic-type music” is.

Carter and Knight do know what they are doing. As vanilla as the album may sound, it is endearing, relying on vocals and emotion, with the symphonic music aiding and abetting all the while. The teenagers are sure to swoon on Friday at some of the romantic songs like “Nothing Better” and “Just the Two of Us.

Nov 7 at 7. $39.50–45. House of Blues, 1204 Caroline St. 888-402-5837. houseofblues.com/houston

 

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