This week's guide contains:
YES, PLEASE: The Bleeding Hearts/ Goner/ The Loners, Gibson Brothers, The Never/ Un Deux Trois/ Cary Ann Hearst, Dan Friel, Reid Johnson/ Sgt. Dunbar & the Hobo Banned
EH, WHATEVER: The Faint/ Jaguar Love
VS.: Margot & the Nuclear So & Sos vs. On No! Oh My!
INTRODUCING: John Howie Jr. & Nathan Golub
SONG OF THE WEEK: Instant Jones' "Rule of Thumb"
08.15 THE BLEEDING HEARTS/ GONER/ THE LONERS @ THE POUR HOUSE
This bill collects three Raleigh rock favorites: The Bleeding Hearts harnesses four decades of vinyl references into polished but hulking two-guitar paeans that meet somewhere between Mott the Hoople and Cheap Trick. Despite its scantily clad cover, the band's second album, Nothin' On but the Radio, showcases a more mature, balanced approach from Sam Madison, its braggadocio-belted frontman. The Loners inspires envy with only a guitar and a drumkit, Eddie Taylor and Chris Jones pushing and pulling against anthems of rebellion-spiked nostalgia. And Goner, better than ever on its new third album, writes with equal parts wanderlust and pragmatism, its key-led vistas stretching ahead like faded Springsteen sunsets. $6/ 9 p.m. —Grayson Currin
08.16 GIBSON BROTHERS @ LAKE BENSON PARK
With the title track from their latest release, Iron & Diamonds, the Gibson Brothers (a bluegrass quartet from a town in New York that's so far upstate it's almost in Canada) bring another baseball-themed song into the world. The cut's most telling couplet, "Six days went to the company, one to the man above/ But the town lived to the afternoon that was given to the ball and glove," brings to mind the scene in John Sayles' Matewan when Chris Cooper tosses the ball around. Different miners, same respite. And the harmonizing of Eric and Leigh Gibson has the same born-in advantages as a sibling battery on the ballfield. Free/ 6 p.m. See www.pinecone.org/garner.html for additional details. —Rick Cornell
08.16 THE NEVER/ UN DEUX TROIS/ CARY ANN HEARST @ THE ARTSCENTER
The Never has always treated love songs like standard currency—whether the object of affection is the planet or a girl, whether the song is guitar-driven or bolstered by a small orchestra. For this show, though, the headliner'll get a run for its proverbial money from two strong female songwriters. With Un Deux Trois, Heather McEntire mends a broken heart with firm but soft-spoken finesse, her gentle chords and pained nostalgia working as sutures. As a counterpoint, Charleston's Cary Ann Hearst plays the tough gal, but is as likely to dip into Patsy Cline sentimentalism as Wanda Jackson rabblerousing. $10/ 8 p.m. —Bryan Reed
08.16 DAN FRIEL @ NIGHTLIGHT
Dan Friel is one-quarter of Parts & Labor, a manic, precise math-and-skuzz band from Brooklyn. Solo, and under his own name, he's crafted several splendid records of instrumental pop landscapes, splicing playful beats and tough noise into unlikely hyper-energetic anthems. This year's
Ghost Town bustles with colors and characters, little melodies floating atop a great big din of sound. If Dan Deacon and Fuck Buttons hit you at all, Friel will electrify your Saturday night. With Philadelphia's promising Circles and nervy Hulk Smash. Also, Durham's The Homewreckers. $6/ 10 p.m. —Grayson Currin
08.18 REID JOHNSON, SGT. DUNBAR & THE HOBO BANNED @ THE CAVE
Schooner frontman Reid Johnson has been venturing out sans band lately, toting along a guitar and his cough-syrupy smooth vocal streaks. While Johnson's mainframe Schooner finds its voice in textures of woozy country blues and ephemeral pop, his solo performance is raw and imperfect, a touchstone for the moody introspection he infuses his band's best songs with. Paired with Johnson is New York's Sgt. Dunbar, who molds shambling folk melodies into cacophonies of rag-tag strings and delicate psych-rock. It's slightly reminiscent of the Elephant 6 parade. $5/ 9 p.m. —Kathy Justice
08.15 THE FAINT/ JAGUAR LOVE @ CAT'S CRADLE
Take Me to the Sea, the full-length debut by former Blood Brothers Cody Votolato and Johnny Whitney as Jaguar Love, is a mess. While that may have been a complimentary description of the old band's anarchic squall, this time it means unlistenable mess. Whitney's caterwaul has always been an acquired taste, a tart shriek fit within a cacophonous roar, but it sounds horribly exposed within the new, still somewhat shrill electro-funk swing. The arrangements are adventurous, but ultimately offer as much appeal as Jackson Pollack's early representational paintings. If you're wondering about The Faint, you probably need to forward your mail from 2001. Also, Shy Child. $20-$22/ 9:15 p.m. —Chris Parker
Friday, August 15
MARGOT & THE NUCLEAR SO & SOS
From: Indianapolis, Ind.
Claim to fame: Releasing a "director's cut" of major label debut, Animal, concurrent with an album featuring Epic's preferred songs and sequencing, Not Animal
In another time, Richard Edwards' aching, folk-inflected pop, with its supple cinematic touches, would hope for no better than some college radio love. However, after rap rock, the environment's swung in the opposite direction, toward beauty and grace, from the Polyphonic Spree to the Decemberists and Arcade Fire. Even callow pop-punkers like Hush Sound, Panic at the Disco and My Chemical Romance are down with greater sophistication. Leading Margot, Edwards' willowy croon offers an earthiness usually absent in the recent chamber pop march, and the arrangements are surprisingly not overcrowded like a Saddle Creek record. Margot's restraint is its finest attribute. At LOCAL 506 with The Audrye Sessions. $10/ 9:30 p.m.
Wednesday, August 20
OH NO! OH MY!
From: Austin, Texas
Claim to fame: Opened for The Flaming Lips and Gnarls Barkley in 2006
If Margot's tender lilt is akin to gilded clouds at sunset, then Oh No! Oh My! is the cloudless, kid-addled municipal pool earlier that day. The precious twee warmth recalls Belle & Sebastian but is wedded to a boisterous juvenile innocence, evident in the perky sing-song piano melody of "Our Mouths Were Wet" and the off-kilter shouted break of "Be a Star." The music's infused with ramshackle energy that helps the fey, harmony-enriched melodies seem spontaneous, like an impromptu backyard performance. As with Margot, the naturalism (if differently pitched) humanizes the artful pop. Oh No! Oh My! goes down soon enough, though. At LOCAL 506 with Royal Bangs and Antenna Shoes. $8/ 9:30 p.m. —Chris Parker
08.14-15 JOHN HOWIE JR. & NATHAN GOLUB
It was a dark day for John Howie Jr. when the departure of Two Dollar Pistols' bassist and lead guitarist laid the band low earlier this year. But while the Pistols were quiet, the songs kept coming. Fortunately, Howie discovered a new collaborator in pedal steel player Nathan Golub, an Independent employee. "It made those last couple shows a lot easier to get through knowing there was something on the other side," Howie says.
They've been working up Howie originals since the New Year and want to eventually fill out the sound. Just not yet. "I get confused about where I want to go with it, because I definitely don't want the Pistols mark II," he says.
While the music's still in the country vein, with a whiff of the Bakersfield honky-tonk that pervades Howie's work, the acoustic and pedal steel format lends itself to a country-rock tone reminiscent of the Flying Burrito Brothers.
"Right now I'm just happy the songs are coming and that I have somebody to collaborate with," Howie says. "That's enough for me, for the moment at least." At THE POUR HOUSE Aug. 14, 9 p.m. At THE CAVE Aug. 15, 10:30 p.m. —Chris Parker