By Ben Westhoff and Sarah Purkrabek
By Steve Brennan
By Joseph Hess
By Allsion Babka
By Kelsey McClure
By RFT Music
By Christian Schaeffer
By Gabriel San Roman
Bob Schneider has figured out a pretty good way to avoid the major-label blues: He puts out his own albums. Over the past decade, the Austin-based rocker has released a whopping fifteen albums with an ever-expanding roster of side groups. As frontman for the Scabs, Schneider tends toward incendiary funk, with often profane subject matter ("Big Butts & Blowjobs"). His work with legendary guitarist Mitch Watkins, by contrast, is stark and haunting, in the tradition of Tom Waits.
Two years ago Schneider released Lonelyland, a sublime collection that ranged from bluesy ballads to rootsy, Dylanesque anthems. The self-released album sold so well in his hometown that Universal picked it up for national distribution.
Schneider is slated to release a second album on Universal. But he's been keeping busy in the meantime. Real busy. Last year he put out a rollicking R&B album with a bunch of his henchmen whom he dubbed, for the occasion, the Galaxy Kings. His most recent effort, I Have Seen the End of the World and It Looks Like This, is a selection of demos that veers more toward the experimental, with distorted vocals, scat-style lyrics and trip-hop beats.
Schneider is renowned for his live shows, which always offer a sampling of his eclectic recordings. At a recent show in Boston, for instance, he played a ten-minute rumba, along with a cover of the Beastie Boys' "(You've Gotta) Fight for Your Right (To Party)" and a scorching version of "(You Make Me Feel Like A) Natural Woman." Then he played a drop-dead gorgeous rendition of "If I Only Had a Heart" from The Wizard of Oz.
It's not clear that Schneider actually ever sleeps, but he's clearly an artist at the top of his game. Catch him in a club setting while you still can.