This week's guide contains:
YES, PLEASE: White Rainbow/ Valet, Arizona, The Don Byron Band, Mobile City Band, Spider Bags/ Rat Jackson/ Can Joann
EH, WHATEVER: Atlas Sound, Carbon Leaf
VS.: Joe Lally vs. Bon Iver
INTRODUCING: Oso Optimo
LAST WEEK'S PARTY: High on Fire
SONG OF THE WEEK: Lori McKenna's "Unglamorous"
02.20 WHITE RAINBOW/VALET [OPENING FOR ATLAS SOUND] @ LOCAL 506
This is a three-piece Kranky Records caravan, and—if you believe Chris Parker's words below (and you should: Atlas Sound lands less than Deerhunter, even)—just trust that only the Bradford Cox wheel is wobbly: White Rainbow is Adam Forkner, a Portland psych/ minimalism/ electronics enthusiast who builds trance-shaped sprees from basic blips and dream drones. Forkner's a Terry Riley disciple who's embraced the spiritual aspect of such music by letting disparate elements—from Bhangra beats to celestial choirs—seep in and celebrate. He's married to Honey Owens, who writes spare, ghastly, ice-gaze songs and then translates them as Valet into warm-hole epics full of damage and deliverance. Cannot recommend the first two-thirds of tonight enough. $10/ 9 p.m. —Grayson Currin
02.15 ARIZONA @ NIGHTLIGHT
A band that splits time and members between Asheville and New York, Arizona's anthems are densely populated with the hooks of The Shins, the dynamic charge of Wilco and the blissful vocals of Grizzly Bear. One of the state's powderkegs, for sure. With Annuals pre- and post-project Sedona, as well as Audibel and East Company. —Grayson Currin
02.15 THE DON BYRON BAND @ DUKE'S REYNOLDS INDUSTRIES THEATER
Don Byron trades his jazz clarinet for an R&B tenor sax tonight as a tribute to Junior Walker, the famous Motown sax player who died in 1995. Chris Thomas King—the blues guitarist and singer best known as Tommy Johnson (named for Robert) in Oh Brother, Where Art Thou?—joins the band tonight. Both players will improvise over and dance around some funky, soulful grooves. $5-$26/ 8 p.m. —Andrew Ritchey02.15 MOBILE CITY BAND @ BROAD STREET CAFE
Broad Streeters will get a double shot of Lise Uyanik. Not only will she be fronting the long-standing (with only the occasional two- or three-year break) rock & rolling & rhythm & bluesing Mobile City Band, she'll also be debuting her new new jazz standards group, The Lise Uyanik Quartet. $10/ 8:30 p.m. —Rick Cornell
02.15 SPIDER BAGS/ RAT JACKSON/ CAN JOANN @ THE CAVE
It's a tripleheader collecting the cream of Chapel Hill, from Spider Bags' ramshackle country-psych to Rat Jackson's bluesy garage-punk come-on and the infectious indie pop of Can Joann. Strap your beer on (you won't want to miss anything) and wash those sticky fingers. 10 p.m. —Chris Parker
02.20 ATLAS SOUND @ LOCAL 506
While some value frontman Bradford Cox's colorful on- and off-stage persona, that's not the only thing going for Deerhunter. Less true for his solo outfit, Atlas Sound: meandering drones, burbling synth, atmospheric shimmer and glitchy experimentalism add up to less imagination than you'd find in a Fox sitcom. It's precisely this kind of unaccomplished minimalist dorm-room futzing that produces masked, late-night beatings by hallmates. While Atlas Sound's low-grade Galaxie 500isms don't rate physical violence, it's hard to imagine willingly submitting to them, even if he tries to land a hook now and then. $10/ 9 p.m. —Chris Parker
02.16 CARBON LEAF @ CAT'S CRADLE
Former purveyors of righteous college rock from Randolph-Macon, the five-piece Carbon Leaf scaled wide grooves and big acoustic riffs with ease in the mid-'90s. But 13 years past graduation day, the band has traded their former Celtic cadence and blue-collar cool for slick new duds. The guitars gleam and the arrangements pop their collar, delivering a product that's much too polished for songs that are ultimately empty. Sure, they may have made the grade in radio-friendly pop economics. But, sometimes, that has all the substance of calling physical education your favorite subject. $14-$16/ 9:30 p.m. —Kathy Justice
Monday, Feb. 18
From: Washington, D.C.
Since: 2002 (and that Fugazi thing)
Claim to fame: The fluttering lows on Fugazi hit "Waiting Room"
Ian MacKaye's adventures into twee were iffy on both Evens records, and we'll chalk up the surprising quality of Dechahedron to half of Frodus' involvement. But when Fugazi bassist Joe Lally strikes out on his own, he's light on backup and lighter on good songs. After all, Dischord's flagship has always been one of those whole-is-greater-than ... sort of collectives, right? So no surprise when the noodly rhythm-worship and bass-as-star explorations seemed awkward and lonely on Lally's Nothing is Underrated and There to Here. The dude rocks a thinness that stands in semi-amusing contrast to opener Edie Sedgwick's noisy sputter-pop and glitzy drag queen-loves-celebrity shtick. With aesthetic-unifier Fin Fang Foom at CAT'S CRADLE. $8/ 9 p.m.
From: Eau Claire, Wis. (and Raleigh, sort of)
Since: 2007 (and that DeYarmond Edison thing)
Claim to fame: The surprising falsettos on New York Times-via-Pitchfork-via-blogs hit "Skinny Love"
While Justin Vernon was damn good in DeYarmond Edison, there's no arguing the brilliance of For Emma, Forever Ago. Vernon's solo debut (at least as Bon Iver) lands on 2007's short list for finest indie folk ("Eh, whatever" to the neo-soul tag). At least that's what every hype machinist was claiming in the weeks leading up to last year's CMJ marathon, where the Times would go on to coronate Vernon. A deal with Jagjaguwar followed. But let's talk parts equaling more than the whole: Both the re-issue of For Emma and Bury The Square—the Table of the Elements/ Radium debut for Durham-based openers and former DeYarmond Edison members Megafaun—will be released after this night's hangover wears off. With Heather McEntire at LOCAL 506. $7/ 9:30 p.m. —Robbie Mackey
02.15 OSO OPTIMO @ LINCOLN THEATRE
Crashing guitars and a cutting drum line jumpstart Oso Optimo's "Discovering the Id." That and a melancholy chorus land the song somewhere between Nirvana's desperation and Incubus' crunch. It's not a new pattern of songwriting, but for George Hage it "feels different." Hage, drummer Michael Schroeder and bassist Larry Dempsey are members of Raleigh pop-rock bands Yearling and Dakota Darling. About eight months ago, somewhere between tours and practices with other bands, the three friends found time to get together and jam. Out of those sessions came a sound that shirked the clean guitars and bouncy melodies of their earlier band: "We kinda look back to early '90s rock for our sound, early Foo Fighters and Weezer's Pinkerton, even some newer stuff like Queens of the Stone Age. We're all into that kind of sound and this band is an outlet for it," says Hage. There debut will be released by Firefly Music in March. 9 p.m. —Kathy Justice
LAST WEEK'S PARTY
02.06 HIGH ON FIRE @ CAT'S CRADLE
The wait for High on Fire was long but worthwhile: Relapse's Car Bomb was the opening train wreck, a blundered fusion of grindcore, noise, thrash, math and rap. Their herk-jerk evaded interest from the start. Band three—Philadelphia's A Life Once lost—played its scream-and-scour metalcore way too straight, though Saviours—better onstage than on its new Kemado release—salvaged the opening triptych. But who could care from the moment Matt Pike—the stoner metal patriarch who can actually keep a band together—ripped his shirt off? With trio in tight formation, he delivered 90 minutes of riffs and solos and salvos, blasted with blistering volume and indefatigable enthusiasm. Before the show, Pike referred to himself as a "lifer." After the band's best record and a live show that's all sweat and perfection, that's very good news. —Grayson Currin