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The Proclivities at The Cave; MC Chris at Cat's Cradle; Two Dollar Pistols at Saxapahaw Music Series; Besnard Lakes and Dirty on Purpose at Blend; more

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Contributors: Bennett Campbell, Rick Cornell, Grayson Currin, Kathy Justice, Chris Parker, Chris Toenes

Thursday, July 12

The Proclivities, The Cave

Apologies to The Proclivities frontman Matt Douglas for the comparisons to Josh Ritter, but it's a compliment of the highest order: Ritter is as good and smart an American songwriter as is working today, and Douglas—who sometimes shares members of Ritter's backing band—is graced by many of the qualities that make Ritter so endearing. A true romantic possessed by candor and wit, Douglas turns complicated pop fare into a marathon of charm. And is it just me, or do I hear a little Douglas humor rubbing off on Ritter's forthcoming Historical Conquests? Matt Douglas deserves your ears, as does Ritter. Philadelphia's visiting The Bee Team makes totally cute acoustic pop. 10 p.m. —GC

Kenny Roby, Tyler's Taproom (Carrboro)

The songs of Kenny Roby are where rock rhythms, gospel melodies and big pop hooks run wild, chased by characters fictitious and painfully real. When presented stripped down, as will be the case in the friendly confines of Tyler's, he simply calls it folk rock. I call it about the best this area has to offer. Free/ 9:30 p.m. —RC

Charles Pettee's Chuck & the Waggin' Ears, Doris Duke Center Gardens

Carolina man Charles Pettee sure has his plate full as he shuffles between the gospel of Psalm Grove and the newgrass twist of his Shady Grove Band. But when Pettee's not busy with the Lord's work or pushing his mandolin into new space, he plays it straight and narrow with Chuck & the Waggin' Ears, a trio of old-time enthusiasts (featuring former Red Clay Rambler Al McCanless and the Shady Grove Band's John Boulding) who relish rolling banjo breaks, fiddle whines and flat-picked guitars. $10/ 7 p.m. —KJ

Pela, Hammer No More the Fingers, Local 506

Brooklyn quartet Pela tries a bit too hard to be clever, their thoughtful reach extending their musical and lyrical grasp by a factor of about two. They crescendo pinging guitars and steady rhythms into after-chorus afterglows, letting it all furl up and fall down—messy and pretty, of course. It's perfectly fine, and that's the problem: If The National (more clever), The Twilight Sad (more tense) or The Walkmen (more dramatic) didn't exist, there'd be a better place in indie rock right now for Pela. As is, though, they're a band of over-affecting, post-emo U2 fans with peers who made them sound tepid two albums ago. Still, they could be fun live. Hammer No More the Fingers, who could find a better name, are too apoplectic to be nitpicked. Fortunately, that may take them far. $8/ 10 p.m. —GC

Luego, Doop, Kyle Cox, Marvell Events Center

An acoustic pop act from Durham composed primarily of Duke students, Luego is looking through lineup changes to make the most of its summer. When the school year starts, member Sonny Byrd will pursue other musical endeavors, so they're busy now backing frontman Patrick Phelan's passionate lyrics about driftwood orchestras. He's got a quirky inflection and a hint of swagger to pit against the band's largely sunny jangle. Tonight with violin and cello. 10 p.m. —BC

Friday, July 13

The Gates of Beauty, Beloved Binge, Melancholy Babes, Nightlight

GoB is Anne Gomez, Shannon Morrow and Wendy Spitzer, and they sound like what their collective experience might lead one to suspect: terse bass-and-drum interplay that skitters and splashes like a lady rattler in a creek bed. Shouted vocals amp the agitation. $5/ 10 p.m. —CT

The Bo-Stevens, Bynum General Store

Could the new heralds of honky tonk be Winston Salem's The Bo-Stevens? A quintet of Southern rebels who languish in the comfort of pedal steel and Williams and Cash country laments, The Bo-Stevens sets the pace with thoughts on booze and scorned lovers. Vintage, unvarnished tunes that rock and rumble with just the right amount of twang. Gas money for the band/ 7 p.m. —KJ

Saturday, July 14

Charlene, Whitebird, *SONS, Nightlight

A nice, three rock-band bill offering a continuum: The Virginians of Whitebird do it heaviest, long, winding and scabrous solos cutting between driving verses built on plenty of humid Southern snarl. They're the most ROCK outfit here, with our own *SONS a distant psychedelic second. When their three guitars are firing, though, they're capable of becoming a great, carved sheet of sound. Massachusetts' Charlene is the most dazed here, their hazy Galaxie 500 pop dreamstates lifted and quickened by an active rhythm section and long synthesizer lines that make the guitars push forward with melody without getting lost in the (slight shoe-) gaze. $5/ 10 p.m. —GC

MC Chris, Cat's Cradle

Caffeinated pipsqueak MC Chris is Lord God KING Boofoo of geek rap, delivering swerving, ankle-breaking rhymes in a voice pitched like that of a small Japanese girl. He drops humorous pop culture references like Vincent Chase drops his drawers, and he scores about as often. Chris worked for Adult Swim several years, getting valuable publicity for his rap alter-ego, and he finally broke out when Aqua Teen Hunger Force ran a snippet of "Fette's Vette," his ode to the Star Wars bounty hunter. Slowly appealing to more than nerds, Chris' loose, boisterous style recalls the spirit of old schoolers De La Soul and 3rd Bass. With The Secret Handshake. $10/ 9:30 p.m. —CP

Two Dollar Pistols, Saxapahaw Music Series

John Howie Jr.'s warm, velvet baritone is enough to melt your heart, whether or not he's applying to the ache of which he sings. His tears-in-the-beer honky-tonk owes a debt to George Jones, which he pays without compunction. On their excellent fifth album, Here Tomorrow, Gone Today, though, Howie and his better-every-album Pistols tinker with their success, occasionally kicking their boots up into occasional bits of welcome soul and rock dust. 6 p.m. —CP

Sunday, July 15

The Gourds, Hideaway BBQ

The Gourds can do it all—country, Cajun, R&B, roots-rock, Snopp Dogg and Minutemen covers—plus make up a few styles that no one has thought of yet. Case in point is "Promenade," the centerpiece of their new Noble Creatures, which sounds like their own brand of country soul, a fiddle taking the place of the customary Hammond organ. You can imagine Richard Manuel singing the holy hell out of it, not that the song's author, Kev Russell, doesn't sound tremendous on it. $15/ 7 p.m. —RC

wednesday, July 18

click to enlarge Besnard Lakes
  • Besnard Lakes

Besnard Lakes, Dirty on Purpose, Blend

A Canadian sextet that's gone woefully ignored by North American audiences on either side of our fair northern border for five years, Montreal's Besnard Lakes bend poetry all about perseverance through matrices of strings, electronics and a tweaked rock toolkit. Like a slightly darker Grizzly Bear or a highly reconstructed, re-equalized and reconceptualized Animal Collective, Besnard Lakes make records that are profoundly textural, double- and triple-guitar pyrotechnics ricocheting off of their own collateral noise and onto a canopy of understated vocal acrobatics informed by The Beach Boys, Spiritualized and The Grateful Dead. Their second album, Besnard Lakes Are the Dark Horse, isn't perfect, but it speaks to a band that may be capable of such soon enough. Brooklyn's Dirty on Purpose was charming on record until last year's overly cautious Hallelujah Sirens. Last time they played Chapel Hill, that charm seemed to have given way to a too-loud irritant. $8/ 9:30 p.m. —GC

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