's Sean Moeller isn't announcing the acts for his Moeller Monday shows at Rozz-Tox (2108 Third Avenue, Rock Island;, but band publicists have a way of undermining attempts at secrecy. So here's a preview of a couple groups we know will be playing ... .

Shows start at 8 p.m., and admission is $8 to $12.

The Legendary Shack Shakers, The Southern Surreal; December 7

One track on the Legendary Shack Shakers' The Southern Surreal - the 20-year-old band's first album in five years - is a spoken-word piece by actor Billy Bob Thornton concerning road patching and an injured dog. Backed only by a gentle guitar, he builds to the moment that he lifts his shovel to kill the animal. It's an expert piece of lean storytelling.

"It looked up at me, kinda thank ya and f--- ya all at the same time," Thornton says. "It knew what I was gonna do, and it knew why. The dog knew why."

He concludes: "It ain't like I don't think about it. It ain't like I wanted to."

But just before that, he says, "You just can't explain things to some people." And I imagine that's true for Shack Shakers mastermind J.D. Wilkes, who has crafted a collection brimming with idiosyncratic personality. The Southern Surreal is a masterfully seasoned deep-fried stew, but it's nearly impossible to explain why its disparate components work so well together. Thornton's short story is the most unusual ingredient, but throughout the record are surprising spices that give a sense of the thoughtfulness that went into it - which helps hold together what might otherwise feel like a fragmentary mishmash.

There's the banjo on the hard-edged rockabilly of "Mud," the use of guitar reverb and acoustic guitar to create a measured, casually ominous vibe on "Cold," and a discordant collection of digressive instruments - from clomping percussion to accordion to tapped strings - that create an otherworldly, uncomfortable counterpoint to the sturdy groove of "Born Under a Bad Sign."

That level of careful detail is essential in a collection that careens so wildly. "Demon Rum" is a saloon ditty, while "Young Heart, Old Soul" is basically mid-century rock-and-roll at breakneck speed and "Fool's Tooth" is a harmonica-fueled fire that burns for less than a minute. From bite to bite, you never know what you're going to get, but you look forward to it nonetheless.

For more information on The Legendary Shack Shakers, visit

The Yawpers, American Man; November 30

The Yawpers. Photo by Paul Beaty.

If the Legendary Shack Shakers are willfully unpredictable, the Denver-based Yawpers stick pretty closely to a rough-edged Americana rock-and-roll formula: quiet openings that build to fiery climaxes, dominated by slide guitar and vocals that go from rough to hoarse.

There are exceptions and variations on American Man - the trio's second album and first on the Bloodshot label - but it must be said that the formula works in their hands and never gets tiresome. The title track's final instrumental break has a sleek polish that takes the band on a slightly prog-y detour before returning to the main road. "Walter" has a cleaner, smoother sound - ever-so-slightly soft - that gives it a restrained, tension-holding intensity, even in its raucous explosion.

And the change-ups give a sense of the group's formidable grasp. "Deacon Brody" is insistent, menacing rockabilly, all weird angles and punk intensity. On the other end of the spectrum, "Beale Street" is done largely on bluegrass instruments, and the Yawpers show that even without their signature electric-slide-guitar freak-outs and scorched screaming, they can rock out just fine.

For more information on the Yawpers, visit

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