This week's guide contains:
YES, PLEASE: Reservoir Three-Year Anniversary; Dead Confederate; Bellafea/ Curtains of Night; Valient Thorr
EH, WHATEVER: Will Hoge; Gil Mantera's Party Dream
VS.: Bob Margolin vs. Randall Bramblett/ Garrison Starr
INTRODUCING: Resist Not
SONG OF THE WEEK: Bonerama's "The Ocean"
11.30 THREE-YEAR ANNIVERSARY @ THE RESERVOIR
The Reservoir throws its own birthday with local favorites: Transportation steers the pastures of late '60s and '70s pop-rock, evoking the country-tinged love languish of West Coast songwriters, the punch and pull of early Cheap Trick and the graceful, tiered hooks of Badfinger. Monsonia is dark and mean in a slow Slint/Unwound way, like a grainy, black-and-white spool of celluloid in reverse. Fin Fang Foom, who just celebrated 10 years in January, know how to give thanks and add exclamation points with mathy anthems. Free/ 10 p.m.—Grayson Currin
11.30 DEAD CONFEDERATE @ SLIM'S
Two years ago, this talented Atlanta quintet graduated from the jam-driven Redbelly Band to a darker, grungier approach suffused with arid drone. Imagine a Southern rock-reared Black Angels. The chunky garage-psych roar of Atlanta's All the Saints lingers like stoned window-shoppers. Locals Transistor Sun ooze power pop charm like hook-and-harmony lotharios. 10 p.m. —Chris Parker
12.01 BELLAFEA/CURTAINS OF NIGHT @ HELL
Dante never had it so loud: Bellafea's a three-piece signed to Southern Records these days, a tight, talented, trampling rhythm section adding force to Heather McEntire's ferocity. Curtains of Night is the latest in a series of great, gritty Triangle metal bands, and they're a bit like Sleep moving to Chicago as a duo. Thunderlip's got bravura and big amps pouring out of its skin, like the salt of their sweat that'll be covering floors by set's end. Free/ 10 p.m. —Grayson Currin
12.04 VALIENT THORR @ LOCAL 506
Prodigal Venusians Valient Thorr return from never-ending tour. The sizzling live energy and rafter-rattling thump's the envy of fellow metalheads, if not necessarily their tourmates. The Sword pack more sludge with a nod to the classic metal attack of Sabbath and Metallica, while Black Cobra exists in a thick fog of prog-metal throb. $12/ 9 p.m. —Chris Parker
11.29 WILL HOGE @ CAT'S CRADLE
As college pop-rock goes, Aware 8 may well be the most important album of the decade: Released in 2001 by the Georgia label that first laid hands on John Mayer, the comp presciently placed two Mayer tracks alongside a cut from successor Howie Day, forebear Glen Phillips and shooting stars Dispatch. Will Hoge landed "Ms. Williams" on the disc, and—even there, compared to Mayer and Day and a batch of nameless less-than-famous guys with guitar—it was clear Hoge was a pack of clichés who would be outdone. Still at it, Hoge's latest, Draw the Curtains, finds the Nashville native wishing he was a soul singer, lobbing lines like "Love is like money/ When you need it the most, it's all gone" with over-emotive blue-eyed enthusiasm. With The War and Hoots & Hellmouth. $10/ 9:30 p.m.—Grayson Currin
12.05 GIL MANTERA'S PARTY DREAM @ LOCAL 506
Gil Mantera's Party Dream is two brothers from Ohio who dream of sparking mega-dance parties with a grab bag of electro-clash grooves, heavy bass lines and distorted guitars. The dream is sort of a nightmare: Despite touring with Art Brut, An Albatross and The Rapture, this duo's sugary lyrics, cramped Casio-keys and gimmicky performances (covering themselves in neon-colored spandex and tin foil) is more about shtick than substance. These synth-pop punks gunk up the dance floor with beat vomit and cheap shock value. With Juan Huevos. $8 —Kathy Justice
FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 30
From: North Carolina by way of Boston
Since: The late '60s
Claim to fame: Rollin' steady
One indirect but often enlightening commentary on a musician's career is a list of those with whom he or she has played. A partial list for blues guitar maestro and bandleader Bob Margolin includes Pinetop Perkins, Johnny Winter, Big Bill Morganfield and, of course, Big Bill's father, Muddy Waters. So yeah, he's been around. But as his latest release, the around-the-house-recorded In North Carolina, shows, he likes home just fine. And he also likes the Blue Bayou Club, which feels frozen in 1973, just about the time Margolin started playing with Muddy. At BLUE BAYOU CLUB. 9:30 p.m.
RANDALL BRAMBLETT/ GARRISON STARR
From: Athens, Ga., and Nashville, Tenn.
Since: The late '60s and the early '90s
Claim to fame: Starr power at sea level
One indirect but often enlightening commentary on a musician's career is a list of those with whom he or she has played. A partial list for multi-instrumentalist Randall Bramblett includes Steve Winwood, Robbie Robertson, Widespread Panic and Gregg Allman. So yeah, he's been around. By comparison, Garrison Starr—she of the crush-worthy voice and alterna-roots-rock sound—is a relative newcomer. But she's been around long enough to release a half-dozen albums, most notably the new The Girl That Killed September. At HIDEAWAY BBQ. $10-$12/ 9:30 p.m. —Rick Cornell
12.05 RESIST NOT @ THE RESERVOIR
Aaron Ward grew up in Irvine, Calif., in the '80s, weaned on Black Flag, the Descendants and Minor Threat. He played in high school punk bands but left rocking behind when he departed for Temple University and a subsequent teaching career. Ward—who teaches history at Durham School of the Arts—felt the spark again this spring, while finishing his master's in history. "I was kind of working through a lot of the stuff I was studying, ideas of conflict and religiosity throughout history," Ward says of his sudden musical imperative.
It resulted in a clutch of songs that recall Against Me!'s folk-punk anthems and the rootsy side of Billy Bragg. Ward's wizened observations key "Purity Police Scene Killers" ("nobody cares how vegan you are") and burn particularly stark on the opening stanza of "Rise Above": "The white warmongering right/ They know that they're wrong/ That's why they fight/ They're losing their privilege everyday/That's why they hate the immigrants and the gays." They're collected on an EP Ward's been selling at his gigs as RESIST NOT. Recorded on his iMac ("It's an amazing toy that doesn't sound like one"), it features the same shambling, heartfelt charm as his heroes, with simple, upbeat songs celebrating our capacity to change our lives and those around us.
Ward says he doesn't care how people greet his efforts, but mostly he just feels compelled. You can hear it in the energy he brings to these hard-strumming songs. Ward chats excitedly about the music he's discovered recently, such as Against Me! and dramatic roots-rockers Defiance, Ohio, before leaving for band practice. He's recently teamed with Future Kings of Nowhere frontman Shayne O'Neill on traps. After a prolonged absence, the fever's come back twice as strong. How could he resist? With Chest Pains and Simple. Free/ 10 p.m. —Chris Parker