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Music worth leaving the house to hear this week

Thermals, Binary
Cat's Cradle
Wednesday, July 14

Punk was less about a sound than a consumer culture whose bankrupt anomie had seeped into every corner of life. So while Hot Topic and Good Found Plan can co-opt the sound, the idea remains alive--and it's still powerful in the right hands, as Portland's The Thermals ably demonstrate. A smart, rumbling blast that could singe your eyebrows, The Thermals' passion is bracing in this environment of somnambulant, emotionally denuded, vapid self-consciousness. And they're not sorry they woke you. --Chris Parker

Rainer Maria, Decahedron, Engine Down
Cat's Cradle
Thursday, July 15

Arguably the best act to emerge from the late '90s emo scene, Rainer Maria's boy/girl vocals were distinctive, and guitarist Kyle Fischer was always more interested in supple, ringing, melodic lines than the standard loud/soft, minor-chord crash and tumble of acutely angular guitars. But while their lilting rock was certainly enjoyable, it meandered a bit. That is, until last year's Long Knives Drawn. Suddenly singer/bassist Caithlin DeMarrais sounds incredibly confident and assured, all but taking over the vocal duties, allowing Fischer to concentrate on his most expressive playing yet and drummer William Kuehn to handle the music's inherent shimmy. --Chris Parker

Codetalkers, Michael Tolcher
Lincoln Theatre
Thursday, July 15

In the universe of slide guitars, the virtuoso status is what people go for. But the wiry and wise slideman Colonel Bruce Hampton--one of the most respected men in all of jazz jamdom--is no technical wizard. He's more of a guru, using his out-of-this-world philosophical musings to guide his projects--especially the legendary Aquarium Rescue Unit--to a musical transcendence rivaled by few contemporaries. --Grayson Currin

The Ghost of Rock CD Release Party
Local 506
Friday, July 16

If rock is dead, its ghost is pounding the hell out of the coffin. The Ghost of Rock, the four-man Triangle rock 'n' roll assault team led by Clifton Lee Mann, is alive and kicking, rampaging through a fuzzed-out, sticks-through-the-skins, straight-no-chaser revelry that few bands can challenge. Expect high energy channeled through antique amplifiers crammed inside of a garage, as on "Lion Tamer," the standout explosion from the band's Demonbeach Records debut--a wild, unabashed and unrestrained take on the art of spine-tingling hair raising. Fake Swedish opens. --Grayson Currin

Avett Brothers
Friday, July 16

The Concord, N.C.-based Avett Brothers (older brother Scott on banjo and younger brother Seth on guitar, alongside upright bass-playing buddy Bob Crawford) welcome the word "raggedy" when used to describe the sound at the heart of their three albums: a spirited blend of bluegrass, old-time and folk, with pop melodies, shouted harmonies, and punk energy on board in equal measure. Live, the trio takes things up a couple notches, with Scott doubling on kick drum and Seth on high-hat, and all three of the guys stomping the stage as if they're performing some kind of stress test. The whole affair can best be described as a commotion--a tuneful, revival-tent-worthy commotion. --Rick Cornell

STRANGE, The Nicky Band
Saturday, July 17

The six-piece rock of STRANGE can be as abrasive and adventurous as it is melodic and compelling, loudly welding Spiritualized explosions and excursions to classic Cure drama, driven by two swirling keyboards and the steeped-in-pedal-glory guitar heroics of the band's frontman, David Mueller. The band will open this show with "Over There," an outright rock epic with the ability to wind its way well above the ten minute mark, thanks to an all-inclusive arrangement in which the players wade deep in sheets of sheer sound while Mueller booms the refrain: "You took off over there/You took a walk down by the lake."--Grayson Currin

Steep Canyon Rangers
The Pour House
Saturday, July 17

After forming in Chapel Hill five years ago, the four pals and one gal of The Steep Canyon Rangers released a debut before signing to Yep Roc's Bonfire Records for a brilliant follow-up, Mr. Taylor's New Home. Fiddler Lizzie Hamilton made a quick exit for family life, but the band pressed on, eventually signing to long-standing Charlottesville bluegrass bastion Rebel Records for a self-titled third. Playing traditionally powered grass tailored with a sense of honest folk narration so profound and aged it belies the just-out-of-college fresh faces penning it, The Rangers are the real thing. In fact, "Bluegrass Blues"--written by shaggy bassist Charles Humphrey III--is as evocative an update on Doc Watson's immortal "Southbound" as one is ever likely to hear. --Grayson Currin

Stockholm Syndrome, Waylandsphere
Lincoln Theatre
Saturday, July 17

Despite the membership of Widespread Panic bassist Dave Schools and Jackmormons frontman Jerry Joseph, Stockholm Syndrome isn't a supergroup. In fact, one would probably only recognize any of the other three players after hearing their resume, which includes session work with Jackson Browne and Sheryl Crow and live stints with George Clinton and Les Claypool. This band is a super group, though, restraining its collective talent in order to put the focus where it belongs: the prodigious songwriting talents of Joseph and Schools, who have compiled one of the most sincere, skilled and important anti-war records to be found south of the Mason-Dixon line since Steve Earle's Jerusalem. --Grayson Currin

The Prayers and Tears of Arthur Digby Sellers
Local 506
Sunday, July 18

If Perry Wright's music has a greatest strength, it is certainly conviction. After all, Wright is an indie singer-songwriter who sounds like a self-edited Connor Oberst but openly confesses his admiration for the writing of Counting Crows crooner Adam Duritz. He writes about his religion, too--the son of an occasional music minister, Wright doesn't want to preach, proselytize or convert, he just wants the audience to listen as he sorts through the qualms in his head. Expect a sophomore record later this year on Bu Hanan Records. --Grayson Currin

Urge Overkill, The Last Vegas, Stoll Vaughan
Cat's Cradle
Sunday, July 18

The cheeky, Windy City triumvirate copped their stylish, rock star pose and garb early on to separate themselves from the "endless breadline of bands... and go, 'hey, check us out, we're insane,'" says singer/guitarist Nash Kato. Which, naturally, dogmatic indie rockers failed to see as a joke, disparaging mercilessly the band's cartoonish preening. Of course, the band DID become rock stars, thanks perversely to a Neil Diamond song recorded with--of all people--Kramer (Bongwater, Shockabilly), and followed that "Girl" down the rabbit hole of drug abuse and dissolution before making this comeback seven years later. --Chris Parker

Waxwings, Jule Brown
Monday, July 19

The Waxwings jumped out of the box in 2000 with Low to the Ground, a slab of jangling, ringing, lush guitar pop that conjured memories of Big Star, The Byrds and The Zombies. An unapologetically pretty album, the Detroit quartet's follow-up, Shadows of the Waxwings, moved forward into the '70s, with an approach that embraced a fuzzier, darker rock side without abandoning the sophisticated pop that marked their debut. They're joined by roots rockers Jule Brown, featuring Mark Holland and other members of locals Jennyanykind. --Chris Parker

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