A brand new Cory Morrow
Cory Morrow's "The Brand New Me" is more than a year old now, so you've had time to get used to the new him. But the Houston-bred, Texas-country crooner sings about the same. When: 7 and 9:30 p.m. Thursday; Where: Mucky Duck, 2425 Norfolk; Tickets: $25
Compton comes to Houston
Kendrick Lamar ,the Compton, Calif. rapper, closes his year with the universally acclaimed "good kid, m.A.A.d city," which continues to pop up on year-end lists. Lamar, who lists Tupac Shakur as a prime influence, is a member of collective Black Hippy, but don't expect any new group material soon. When: 11 p.m. Friday; Where: House of Blues, 1204 Caroline; Tickets: $40-$50
The big show
New Orleans bounce comes (back) to Houston when the "Queen Diva" Big Freedia hits the stage. But don't dismiss Big Freedia as just another "gay rapper." And please do not refer to her with male pronouns. (Or there will be problems.) Freedia doesn't so much sing as scrape her gruff vocals over booming, looped tracks. But her aggressive energy is unmatched. With Trooth, A Sea Es and Disco Daddies. When: 8 p.m. Friday; Where: Fitzgerald's, 2706 White Oak; Tickets: $10-$12.
The rest of the week
Life As Lions: Four-piece Houston band Life as Lions doesn't struggle for quirky adjectives to describe its sound. It's simple and straightforward rock. An EP was released earlier this year, and the band is constantly working on new material. With A Thousand Colours, Holder and the Common Era. When: 8 p.m. Thursday; Where: House of Blues, Bronze Peacock Room, 1204 Caroline; Tickets: $10.
Rosehill: Mitch McBain and Blake Myers seemed destined to play music together. They met senior year at Cy-Fair High School during football season and quickly became friends. They came together to form Texas High Life, which eventually morphed into duo Rosehill. (The turning point? An impromptu guitar jam and Pat Green's "Nightmare.") Debut album "White Lines and Stars" was released in 2009, spawned several regional hits and earned them video play on CMT. "Crooked Thoughts" followed this year and seems poised to build on that momentum. With Kyle Park. When: 8 p.m. Friday; Where: Big Texas Saloon, 19959 Holzwarth, Spring; Tickets: $10-$15. Also: 8 p.m. Saturday at the Armadillo Palace, 5015 Kirby.
Radney Foster: Originally a Nashville-based songwriter, Foster began performing in 1986 with Bill Lloyd as Foster and Lloyd. He branched off on a solo career later and has seen some of his songs hit the country charts. He's also a sharp songwriter and producer. When: 8:30 p.m. Saturday; Where: Dosey Doe, 25911 Interstate 45 N., The Woodlands; Tickets: $68-$108.
New Year's Weekend Soul Celebration: The R&B lineup includes Dwele, Eric Roberson, Algebra Blessett and Mint Condition, who scored hits in the '90s with "Breakin' My Heart (Pretty Brown Eyes)" and "What Kind of Man Would I Be?" When: 7:30 p.m. Saturday; Where: Arena Theatre, 7326 Southwest Freeway; Tickets: $44.50-$59.50.
Loco Comedy Jam: Funnyman Mike Robles is joined by a few friends on this stop of his never-ending Loco Comedy Jam, a bilingual take on everything from pop culture to politics. When: 10 p.m. Saturday; Where: House of Blues, Crossroads Stage (inside restaurant) 1204 Caroline; Tickets: $15-$20.
Joe Ross Birthday Celebration: One of the city's most popular DJs celebrates with a night of high-energy anthems and giveaways. Ross has mixed tunes at some of the city's busiest bars and clubs. Expect plenty of diva wails and a packed house. When: 9 p.m. Saturday; Where: South Beach, 810 Pacific; Tickets: Free before 11 p.m. with text (text SOBE to 46786).
Band of Heathens: Austin guys with Houston ties, or at least one tie in singer-songwriter Gordy Quist. His other two Heathens are Ed Jurdi and Colin Brooks. Ray Wylie Hubbard, patron saint of gonzo cowboy songwriters, gives them a stamp of approval. When: 9 p.m. Saturday; Where: Firehouse Saloon, 5930 Southwest Freeway; Tickets: $12-$15.
Billy Joe Shaver: The original honky-tonk hero avoided jail for shooting a guy in the face and pretty much went back to business as a tireless troubadour. His songbook is about as good as anybody's in the biz. When: 8:30 p.m. Saturday; Where: Dosey Doe Music Cafe, 463 FM 1488, Conroe; Tickets: $25.