This week's guide contains:
YES, PLEASE: Benefit for Conrad Zaborowski, Belmont Playboys/ Edsel 500, The Merch Holiday Party, Logic Problem
EH, WHATEVER: Edwin McCain, Donna the Buffalo
VS.: Randy Whitt. Joe Swank & the Zen Pirates. Eric Sommer vs. Lamont Skylark
INTRODUCING: The Men
LAST WEEK'S PARTY: Christmas at The Cradle
SONG OF THE WEEK: Jason Isbell's "Dress Blues"
Organized by members of Ships for Conrad Zaborowski, an East Chapel Hill High School student who was thrown from his car after a car crash in May 2006, this benefit is headlined by I Was Totally Destroying It's bubbling power-pop. Check IWTDI's elegiac "Conrad" from their debut LP. Ships plays, as well as new Trekky band Wil Donegan and the Apologies. $6-$8 —Grayson Currin12.28 BELMONT PLAYBOYS/ EDSEL 500 @ HIDEAWAY BBQ
The Playboys' nostalgic blend of old-time rock 'n' roll and rockabilly evokes Bill Haley and Duane Eddy so well, you can nearly smell the hair grease. Together for 17 years, the Charlotte quintet is tighter than Scrooge the day before Christmas, led by Mike Hendrix's smooth, tail-finned croon. Spiritually-related locals Edsel 500 open. $10/ 9:30 p.m. —Chris Parker12.28 THE MERCH HOLIDAY PARTY @ LOCAL 506
Tim Ross, aka DJ Twombly, has been ringing bells at Hell's dance parties for years, but here he's going off-road, playing stuff that you wouldn't hear at one of those sweaty basement parties. Still tasty, just maybe not so bass-y. The mysterious Cannonballz, guise of Merch-er Pat Cudahy, flips the faders to warm it up. Free/ 10 p.m. —Chris Toenes12.28 LOGIC PROBLEM @ BULL CITY HEADQUARTERS
A hardcore holiday: Logic Problem is a new Cross Laws spin-off featuring Sorry State head honcho Daniel Lupton on bass, while Piston Slap is a Mebane four-piece with a mighty, chant-along thrash bent. Pennsylvania's Common Enemy spews vitriol over a messy guitar-and-drums clash. Also, Religious SS Disorder. —Grayson Currin
12.27 EDWIN MCCAIN @ LINCOLN THEATRE
If Scott Stapp ever needed an audio double in Creed, Edwin McCain should have gotten the call: The South Carolina ex-radio star hit the same, sell-my-soul-for-these-feelings crescendos on early hits like "I'll Be" and "I Could Not Ask for More," and—as with Stapp—the lyrics still sound pulled from the junior varsity locker room of a volleyball team. Since he's almost 40, McCain has updated his sound, most recently pulling the itinerant soul-folk card with images and memories that sound like they were lived through a premium Netflix account. Stuff like this is the great big bellyache of Southern music. With Trevor Hall. $20/ 8 p.m. —Grayson Currin12.29 DONNA THE BUFFALO @ LINCOLN THEATRE
Donna the Buffalo circle a melodic idea like a NASCAR track, until, similarly, your eyes glaze over from the fumes. Choruses pile up like a stutter. While not without their charms—the rootsy warmth of their melodic figures, Tara Nevins' vocal—they're fundamentally unable and unwilling to discern a groove from a rut, bludgeoning the listener into mind-numbing submission like a Republican riffing on a talking point. Only slightly less annoying is a penchant for sing-song melodies. "No Place Like the Right Time" has a shackling meter as insidiously pernicious as that "by Mennen" jimgle. Don't wake me if I'm napping. $17-$20/ 9 p.m. —Chris Parker
RANDY WHITT, JOE SWANK & THE ZEN PIRATES, ERIC SOMMER
FROM: Various locales
SINCE: Various times
CLAIM TO FAME: Various things country- and rock-related
Although "zen pirate"sounds like something that Johnny Depp might have used to inspire his Captain Jack characterization ("You know, Gore, I'm picturing him as a bit of a zen pirate"), it actually sprang from the creative mind of bandleader Joe Swank. It's the same pumped-up country-rock mind that hatched the title "Hank Williams Died for My Sins" and latched onto such cover songs as Redneck GReece Deluxe's "Don't Let Another Penis Come Between Us." Joining Swank and his bucs on the bill are Randy Whitt, who, with help from backing Grit Anthony Lener, will hold down the early slot with his brand of country-soul. Also, D.C.-based road warrior Eric Sommer. At THE CAVE.
CLAIM TO FAME: Not getting the credit they deserve
Although "Lamont Skylark" sounds like a land yacht favored by retirees ("I'm going to get in my Lamont Skylark and drive to Golden Corral at 4:30 for supper"), it's actually the name of a long-standing and underrated quartet of roots rockers from Wilmington. In the same way that the Del-Lords ignored regional restrictions to bring heartland rock to New York, these guys bring Texas singer-songwriter sounds and upper-Midwest stylings (heavy on the Jayhawks) to the beach. Opening is another roots-rocking four piece, Mike Slaton & the Wheels. With a lineup that includes Lamont Skylark's Ted Crenshaw, they're more than kindred spirits. They're family. At HIDEAWAY BBQ. $6/ 8:30 p.m. —Rick Cornell
Perhaps it has something to do with the area's magnetosphere, but the Triangle is again home to wayward aliens. You may recall Venusian time-traveling hard rockers Valient Thorr, who enjoyed a brief tenure in the area and occasionally return when not in orbit. For now, they've been suceeded by two crash-landing Carploxians, Negator and Lexor.
Known simply as The Men, these Raleigh experimentalists fashion discursive spasms of swirling psych prog. Billowing keyboard washes spark a spooky, ethereal tone, joined by jazzy sax bleats and loose swaths of guitar distortion. They sing about cataclysms on the astral plane amid a storm of sonics. Think Portishead, in thrall to mushroom tea and arm-wrestling John Zorn. It's heady stuff, with grooves that wind through vast mottled, marbled backdrops. With The Still and Remora at 9:30 p.m. for $5. —Chris Parker
Indeed, it was a celebration of 300 that included garland-covered microphones, a stage full of mini-Christmas trees, a well-padded Santa and an armful of seasonal tunes provided by ten of the Triangle's best and brightest bands. Standout moments included Midtown Dickens' folk-tinged cover of Elvis Presley's "Blue Christmas," Schooner's Ramones-style guitar chugger "Merry Christmas" and I Was Totally Destroying It's shimmering cover of U2's "New Year's Day." On a softer note, the Trekky Yuletide Orchestra's cover of "Baby It's Cold Outside" was a real charmer, and the orchestra's swelling, symphonic strings made each holiday hymn lovelier. How about Santa stealing the show on a nasty, blues-funk note? —Kathy Justice