This week's guide contains:
YES, PLEASE: Kylesa, American Princes,Bio Ritmo, Lise Uyanik & the Mobile City Band, Sea Wolf, James McMurtry & the Heartless Bastards, North Mississippi All-Stars
EH, WHATEVER: Duran Duran
VS.: Nathan Asher & the Infantry vs. Fighting Poseidon
INTRODUCING: The Kickass
SONG OF THE WEEK: X's "We're Desperate"
05.22 KYLESA @ VOLUME 11 TAVERN
Savannah's Kylesa is at its most dangerous when its hulking body—two drummers and two guitarists—sprints through thick mud just beneath the surface, when the band's own agile thrash becomes ensnared by its own internal heaviness. Sitting atop that body are Laura Pleasants and Phillip Cope, dual guitarists and vocalists who trade wounded howls and barbs with triumphant roar and determination totally befitting the instrumental battle below. But Kylesa stretches itself, too, using samples, drones, sheets of noise and keyboards to express both clouds and cloudbreaks of clarity between some of the heaviest marches being made in Southern metal. Atlanta-based Prosthetic labelmates Withered do something similar with black metal, occasionally pulling the reins to allow glimpses of pretty to go flying by. With Black Skies, Human Smoke and Interarma. $10/ 9 p.m. —Grayson Currin
05.22 AMERICAN PRINCES @ LOCAL 506
Arkansas' American Princes hit a gritty, hooky stride on this year's Yep Roc release, Other People: "Real Love," the record's top-down anthem, twitches with anxiety and anticipation, a brazen angularity that snags the inner eardrum and stays there. Northern State—a three-woman hip-hop group that moved from a major label to Mike Patton's Ipecac—headlines. With Mowgli. $8/ 9 p.m. —Grayson Currin
05.24 BIO RITMO @ THE POUR HOUSE
What would you have if you could rebuild Tito Puente as the Six Million Dollar Man? Answer: Richmond's Bio Ritmo, which turns the corny TV theme song into a vicious Latin funk excursion. Their salsa originals sound like they came off lost '70s vinyl of a Puerto Rican garage band. That's exactly what they want you to think, too. Like-minded Brooklyn combo Jose Conde y Ola Fresca opens. Guaranteed to get your bellbottoms spinning. Mood ring? Deep blue. $10/ 9 p.m.—Sylvia Pfeiffenberger
05.24 LISE UYANIK & THE MOBILE CITY BAND @ THE ARTSCENTER
If any video exists of Lise Uyanik and the party-time rhythm & roll with which she and the Mobile City Band conquered Carrboro in the way-pre-YouTube early '80s, it's probably buried in a box of VHS tapes. No problem: You get a couple chances to see the group every year and get lost again in their take on the Don Covay-penned, Aretha-owned "See Saw" and other sweaty faves. The energy hasn't changed, just the technology. $15/ 8:30 p.m. —Rick Cornell
05.24 SEA WOLF @ LOCAL 506
Sea Wolf frontman (well, technically only man) Alex Brown Church delivers myths and memories built from ruined love and landmarks with a haunting precision. The music bubbles over with eerie, brooding strings and eclectic folk-tinged acoustics, building beneath the moody words and earnest delivery like a ballast. With Jealous Girlfriends and The Young Sons. $10/ 9 p.m. —Kathy Justice
05.27 JAMES MCMURTRY & THE HEARTLESS BASTARDS @ BERKELEY CAFE
Despite 20 years of sustained excellence, James McMurtry has just recently expanded his following by earning a reputation (courtesy of "We Can't Make It Here" and "Cheney's Toy") as a ferocious political and social commentator. But his greatest strength as a songwriter remains his ability to bring regular Joes and Janes to life as they attempt to navigate a world made perilous by politicians and a thousand other obstacles using their own crazy-compass hearts. Check out the astonishing "Ruby and Carlos" from McMurtry's new Just Us Kids, which features perhaps the best depiction of longing ever on record. $15/ 8 p.m. —Rick Cornell
05.28 NORTH MISSISSIPPI ALL-STARS @ CAT'S CRADLE
Fortunately, the North Mississippi All-Stars abandoned ill-advised experimentation with rappers on its latest effort, Hernando, but the Southern trio continues to distance itself from Hill Country roots. Hernando leans toward straight blues-rock, which isn't really playing to their strengths, although guitarist Luther Dickinson does dabble in surf and psych. But the power trio, now minus Hill Country son Duwayne Burnside, is still capable of bringing that familiar boogie behind the tight rhythm of Chris Chew and Cody Dickinson. $16-$18/ 9:15 p.m. —Spencer Griffith
05.21 DURAN DURAN @ KOKA BOOTH
Responsible for the early '80s spike in mousse sales and dancey synth pop dreck, Duran Duran was the beachhead for such hideous abominations as Animotion, Naked Eyes and Kajagoogoo. Duran Duran denuded Roxy Music of its art and rock elements, leaving just the sallow club-going pallor and a skin-deep romanticism. Is someone really looking forward to this? $35-$65/ 7 p.m. —Chris Parker
SATURDAY, MAY 24
NATHAN ASHER & THE INFANTRY
Claim to fame: Writing songs for self-improvement; playing them big
Nathan Asher & the Infantry gathered a singer-songwriter with a defiant spirit, his best friend (a keyboard whiz since middle school), a blues harmonica player and the core of a since-forgotten Raleigh rock band named Nova Cancy. Tonight, they'll close out a five-year career with a show at the BERKELEY CAFÉ, which they'll record for future release. The small stage of the Berkeley is an admittedly awkward exit for an act whose intentions and sound always seemed so big: They commandeered a stretch of Hillsborough Street windows for an advertisement and played several Manhattan showcases for record labels. The Infantry's Springsteen-based presence worked best with the big lights and speakers of the Lincoln Theatre, but—after only deciding to end the band three weeks ago—they'll take this exit on Martin Street. 10 p.m.
From: Triangle + Triad
Claim to fame: Great song titles: "Coma Cocktail," "Heavenly Medicated," "Kevorkian Strikes Again"
Fighting Poseidon gathered members from Greensboro's Kudzu Wish, Sanford's Olé and Greensboro's Knives Exchanging Hands. Tonight, the quartet will end a two-year run with a show at HELL, which seems appropriate given the insurgent character of Fighting Poseidon's music. Trouncing drums and seek-and-shout vocals that seem to chase justice in a figure-eight pattern power tightly wound, cleanly cutting guitar lashes in Fighting Poseidon, who managed an aggressive five-track EP, Hellride, in their short time, as well as a handful of non-album tracks like the mean social shakedown "Vendettamerica." Guitarist Eric Mann is moving to Asheville, and, as he puts it, "We've been through many lineup changes, and, unfortunately, that has taken a toll on our own motivations for wanting to do this in the first place." Ruscha opens. 9 p.m. —Grayson Currin
05.23 THE KICKASS @ SLIM'S
Early on a Friday afternoon, Benny Earl is sitting at home, music blaring. If that sounds better than your day job, know that Earl, one of two guitarists in Valient Thorr, really wants to get out of the living room: "I've been going stir crazy here," he says laughing. "I'm ready to rock."
Indeed, Valient Thorr—one of the country's foremost bunch of roaddogs—has been home since early April. A European tour with Norwegian band Turbonegro was scrapped due to sickness, and Thorr frontman Herbie Abernethy took the chance to donate one of his kidneys to his diabetic father. Thorr returns to the road June 13, but, in the meantime, Earl needed a chance to play music.
Re-enter The Kickass, the precise, pummeling math-metal trio Earl had to put on hold when Valient Thorr hit the road full time. They've got three shows booked, and Earl says the material will be split between old (the band's Death Metal Is for Pussies is a local classic) and new jams.
Earl rarely gets to sit behind drums with Valient Thorr, and he's excited to return to The Kickass' throne: "I try and sit behind Thorr's kit occasionally, but you rarely have time. People just look at you funny." The Kickass plays its first Raleigh show in three years tonight. $3/ 10 p.m. —Grayson Currin