Melding New Orleans' brass-band tradition with the sounds and style of Southern hip-hop, The Soul Rebels bring with them a tremendous live reputation and visions of a rapping, soul-shouting, horn-blasting good time. I don't believe for a second that they're "the missing link between Louis Armstrong and Public Enemy," as their overeager band bio asserts (last time I checked, that was James Brown), but if they suggest even a fraction of that, they should offer a pretty good way to spend a Saturday night. And with roots in black college marching bands (the Rebels were created by former drum majors from Southern, Grambling, and Texas Southern), chances are they won't be dull and will bring the funk. At the least, here's a chance to evaluate a sister city's local hype. The Soul Rebels will be at the Hi-Tone Café Saturday, August 6th.
With D'Angelo still in self-imposed exile, neo-soul awaits a king figure to rival Jill Scott's queen. Anthony Hamilton has the artistry and sales but may not be quite "neo" enough to fit the bill. But a couple of prime contenders for the throne make their case Friday, August 5th, at The Orpheum theater. Kanye West buddy John Legend bases his smooth sound on piano. Opener Lyfe Jennings grounds his grittier sound in his own acoustic plucking. Both show promise, but one suspects the throne will remain vacant for a while. - Chris Herrington
Memphis' Wrecked 'Em Records can do no wrong. Whenever a new Wrecked 'Em disc shows up at my doorstep I turn into a 6-year-old on Christmas morning, ripping off the wrapping and running to the stereo. They get punk in a way that few people truly understand: It's not about the aggression, angst, or political content, the vulgarity, sloppiness, or weird haircuts. It's not about anything other than making good, sweaty, hip-shaking rock-and-roll the way it was meant to be played. Everything else is just gravy. Witness The Divine Brown, a London-based gaggle of badass rockers whose Wrecked 'Em release The Dirty Gospel According to the Divine Brown is aggressive without being comically "in your face" and filled with monstrous hooks and a truly rebellious spirit. The song "King of Shit City" explodes every rock cliché there is on its way to becoming one of the most perfect punk anthems I've ever heard. They're at the Full Moon Club on Sunday, August 7th.
Then again, there is perhaps no recording artist I crave more often than George Jones. His songs are constant companions, always there for me when everything else lets me down. I don't care if it's his rockabilly takes on "Running Bear," "White Lightning," or "Root Beer" or lushly arranged hits such as "The Grand Tour" (the most perfect country song ever recorded IMO) or "He Stopped Loving Her Today." Whether you're celebrating or mourning, everything by George Jones hits the spot. Who else can squeeze both Elvis and Fred Flintstone into a song and make it work? Jones will play Sam's Town casino Saturday, August 6th. - Chris Davis
The idea of "experimental indie rock" or "noise rock" usually puts me to sleep. I think of guitar chords droning on and on like in some bad dream where Sonic Youth's Washing Machine is on repeat for days. But then I heard Paulson. These five guys from New Jersey couldn't be classified as anything but experimental, but not only does their sound keep me awake, it's keeps me wanting more.
What sets them apart are the harmonious vocals backed up with synth that ranges from an organlike sound to, at times, a sound that's pure electronica. Paulson manages to be experimental in the truest sense of the word rather than playing some guitar chord for five minutes straight and calling it experimental. And it doesn't hurt that the vocals are crisp and sing-along friendly. Paulson joins Best Days Behind, Chase Pagan, and The Holiday at the Skate Park of Memphis on Saturday, August 6th. n
- Bianca Phillips