This week's guide contains:
YES, PLEASE: Titus Andronicus/ Spider Bags, Amps Do Furnish a Room & more, Double Negative/ Government Warning, Battlemaster/ Tooth/ Colossus, Jeff Crawford/ Amo Joy
VS.: Hammer No More the Fingers vs. Peter Holsapple
SONG OF THE WEEK: The 1900s' "Whole of the Law"
01.08 TITUS ANDRONICUS/ SPIDER BAGS @ DAIN'S PLACE
On the merits of two 7-inch records, a tour EP burned onto a CD-R and scrawled with Sharpie, and a sweaty set upstairs in Ringside this summer, few bands I saw in 2007 delivered on both raw potency and promise like New Jersey's Titus Andronicus. Central to everything they've done so far is a chemically enabled gusto, the sort of fuck-all power that lets a frontman tell a lover, "When the shit hits the fan/ I just pray you will not be spared" before joining his band to steamroll her with arena-ready rhythms, a big guitar solo, pounded piano chords and horns howling her away. Beneath the suds and swears, though, Titus Andronicus is as musically adventurous as they are accomplished. Local friends The Spider Bags are the perfect complement for this small barroom: They do tortured sing-alongs and tough-as-glass playing with similar abandon. 9 p.m. —Grayson Currin
01.04 AMPS DO FURNISH A ROOM & MORE @ LOCAL 506
Tribute acts are big business; just ask the Lincoln Theatre. Nonetheless, who saw this trib tripleheader coming? Amps Do Furnish a Room, in addition to being Jeff Hart's 100th band or so, honor the angular guitar adventures of Television. Shalini Chatterjee and Mitch Easter use the Guitars in the Sky name to demonstrate that the Records were more than just "Starry Eyes" (although that tune remains one of the best two or three power pop songs to ever sway a skinny tie). And in Heart of Glass, members of Dom Casual, the Sleepies, and Roxotica get all Deborah Harry. $8/ 9:30 p.m. —Rick Cornell
01.04 DOUBLE NEGATIVE/ GOVERNMENT WARNING @ BCHQ
Born Bad is throaty, thrashy hardcore in from San Francisco: Here, they're paired with two of the East Coast's best in Double Negative and Government Warning, respective Raleigh and Richmond favorites who will turn the tight quarters of BCHQ into a stop-and-go circus. Also, Virginia's Socialcide and another ex-Cross Laws band, Devour. $5/ 8 p.m. —Grayson Currin
01.07 BATTLEMASTER/ TOOTH/ COLOSSUS @ VOLUME 11
Four blasts of East Coast metal: With a precision two-guitar attack and schizophrenic dragon-breath and goblin-squeal vocals, Richmond's Battlemaster beckons back to D&D metal, embracing heavy fantasy themes and nailing them to eardrums with drummer Alex Tomlin, whose unorthodox rhythmic ideas and fills are worth the price of admission alone. These guys are instrumental monsters coveting hyperbole. Boston's Ramming Speed grinds with menace, while Raleigh's Colossus takes flight with laser-etched guitar harmonies and a mind for Maiden lore. Durham's Tooth is the heaviest act here, pounding through tales of beasts and gods with bludgeoning rhythms and assailant, muddy guitars. 8 p.m. —Grayson Currin
01.08 JEFF CRAWFORD/ AMO JOY @ NIGHTLIGHT
A little like Durham's Bombadil on a different trip, Indianapolis' Amo Joy uses kazoos, percussive toys, bells and (slide) whistles to accent its slightly psychedelic anthem-indie rock. Imagine Destroyer going carefree, and you're close. Jeff Crawford plays in Roman Candle, but his quaint, charming solo material has quietly become some of the Triangle's most memorable. Also, country/ blues/ experimental signal mixer, Sound of Singles. 9:30 p.m. —Grayson Currin
SATURDAY, JAN. 5
HAMMER NO MORE THE FINGERS
Claim to fame: (Great) Carolina indie rock again
The rhythms are an anxious, sidelong glance, cymbals rattling like old truck shocks on a steep decline. Spiky guitar riffs roll under, over and out, like a miniature golf design by M.C. Escher. There's a jagged post-punk swagger to songs like "Black Harmony," met headlong by a devastating hook. The music's lithe and wiry and round, giving plenty of beneath Duncan Webster's mellifluous delivery. The guitar shimmers sympathetically, droning and swirling, shimmying its shoulders in a '90s indie rock come-on that owes a debt to Archers of Loaf and Polvo. The blend of pummel and primp is tough to match, especially with tonight's premium supporting corner—I Was Totally Destroying It, Citified and Gray Young. At LOCAL 506 at 9:30 p.m. for $6.
Claim to fame: Keyed jangle-pop pioneers the dBs
There's no grappling Holsapple; his songs move with such grace and aplomb, they'll turn you in circles and leave you with a dizzy sort of smile. His ringing melodies are so crisp and clean they don't leave fingerprints, and his reedy tenor recalls Peter Case in his Plimsouls days—urgent and upbeat with no dour indulgence. Unflappable and resilient, Holsapple's seen bands come and go for decades, but he still sings strong, sporting hooks he's fashioned from Rittenhouse Square to here. The charming folky power pop pulse defies resolve, like a drink you can't put down. A good battle, but just smile and raise your glass to this seasoned victor. Another strong backing corner: Former Takoma picker Peter Lang headlines, with Sweet By & By opening at BROAD STREET CAFÉ at 8 p.m. for $13-$15. —Chris Parker
01.05 FREQUENC @ NIGHTLIGHT
By putting together what might appear to some as just a diverse year-end, year-begin party, the FrequeNC records camp have assembled a head-to-foot roll call of what made the past year in North Carolina music so varied and thrilling, both entrenched in history and leaping into the future. It's likely connected to the Chapel Hill label's origins in western N.C., where founders Charlie Hearon and Jon Terrell grew up with roots musics as they grew into punk, hip-hop and electronic styles. This bill, one of the strongest in recent memory, reflects it all.
The evening commences in a "gallery-style" program, with wine and food as part of the package and FrequeNC's DJ Nasty Boots (Hearon) spinning blues and bluegrass records. That leads into The Sumpbucket Ticklers, a Carrboro old-time group described on the club's roster as "Tri-ethnic Neolithic Ecstatic Technology and Forgotten Songs." Dom Flemons of the celebrated African-American string band Carolina Chocolate Drops then plays a solo set, and DJ Jason Perlmutter follows with a rousing set of rarities from the milieu he unearthed in his compilation Carolina Funk. Chuck Johnson, in his Pykrete guise with Robert Biggers, explores the electronic skills he's honing as a student at heralded music school Mills College. Then Hearon brings it all home with a dance music set, pulling together a night that will likely be remembered for its diversity and fearlessness, two things that have always made this state's music a wonder. The show starts at 9 p.m. and costs only $3. —Chris Toenes