This week's guide contains:
YES, PLEASE: The New Favorites, Freedom Hawk/ Colossus, Los Campesinos!/ Titus Andronicus, Kickin Grass/ The Whistlestop, Schooner/ Ghost to Falco/ Embarrassing Fruits, Nanci Griffith, K-Hill
EH, WHATEVER: Longwave
VS.: Randy Rogers Band vs. Keller Williams
VS.: Yarn/ Transportation/ Joe Romeo vs. The Explorers Club/ The Huguenots
SONG OF THE WEEK: Los Campesinos!'s "Miserabilia"
01.15 THE NEW FAVORITES @ BROAD STREET CAFE
When a band lists the likes of XTC, Squeeze and Oingo Boingo as their main influences, you can rightfully expect quirky rhythms, hooks galore and a certain level of endearing music geekiness ("Hey, have you seen my collection of mint condition Tubes 45s?!"). For Hillsborough four-piece The New Favorites, check, check, and—even though I've never met these guys—I'm guessing check. You'll find The New Favorites powerpopping in the third slot of an eclectic three-band bill that also features Sons of Saturn and the fusion jazz of Workbook. Free/ 8 p.m. —Rick Cornell
01.16 FREEDOM HAWK/ COLOSSUS @ THE RESERVOIR
As a frontman, T.R. Morton of Sabbath servants Freedom Hawk accomplishes mostly everything that J.D. Cronise—the leader of America's preeminent slick stoner metallurgists The Sword—misses: Morton leads the charge of his Tidewater, Va., boys, his ascendant falsetto slicing through air like the edge of the blade and ax that is the trio behind him. Granted, The Sword is more musically menacing and massive, but Morton sounds like the hero of his own riff-populated empire. Colossus, young Raleigh lords worshipping at the altars of major deities Priest and Maiden, headlines. Death Came Down the Mountain takes the one-spot. Free/ 10 p.m. —Grayson Currin
01.16 LOS CAMPESINOS!/ TITUS ANDRONICUS @ CAT'S CRADLE
Both the guitar-razed New Jersey quintet Titus Andronicus and the orchestra-energetic Wales septet Los Campesinos! lunge forward with the kinetics of youth. The bands' respective outlooks on life necessitate distinction, though: Titus Andronicus' sheets of reverb-soaked guitars alternately lift and overload Patrick Stickle's man-on-fire observations. They're like a garage band backing a teenage poet born directly into woe and wisdom: "I was born into self-actualization, I knew exactly who I was, but I never got my chance to be young, so when you lay me inside of a coffin, bury me on the side of the hill. That's a good place to get some thinking done," he sings in a pointed piece of ekphrasis. Above a carefully arranged but generally clangorous mix of rock-band standards, glockenspiel, keyboards and co-ed shouts, Los Campesinos! proclaims for love and dancing and renewed energy, though they do so without naiveté or the pretense of innocence. "Nothing says I miss you quite like poetry carved into your door with a Stanley knife," goes "My Year in Lists." Creepy, sure, but mostly charming. $12-$14/ 9 p.m. —Grayson Currin
01.17 KICKIN GRASS/ THE WHISTLESTOP @ THE POUR HOUSE
It's tempting to pigeonhole both these local bands, but I don't dare: Even though The Whistlestop is a gospel group at heart and in soul, it shares the faith in a divine whirl of rock, oldtime country and blues, with praise-worthy vocals from cofounders Mike Roy and Rob Watson. And the Kickin Grass Band clearly has bluegrass in its blood, but well-executed sidetrips into country (like a fine cover of Roger Miller's "Chug a Lug") and Gillian Welch-style hardscrabble Americana show that the band has taken no vows of purity. $6-$10/ 9 p.m. —Rick Cornell
01.17 SCHOONER/ GHOST TO FALCO/ EMBARRASSING FRUITS @ NIGHTLIGHT
An interesting night of indie rock guises: Carolina-raised Portland resident Eric Crespo, Ghost to Falco's sole constant, turns his introspection outward with intricate songs that swing between bombast and fragility. Schooner frontman Reid Johnson is no songwriting slouch either, whether he's dosing Schooner's occasionally lo-fi treasures with the dripping keys of '60s psych, harmonious vocals of doo-wop, or insistent rhythms of power pop. With a new EP in the works, Schooner plans a set of all-new material. Embarrassing Fruits embodies Pavement's slacker fuzz better than most, wrapping self-assured lyricism around lazy melodies. $5/ 10 p.m. —Spencer Griffith
01.21 NANCI GRIFFITH @ MEYMANDI CONCERT HALL
Nanci Griffith sings with the gentleness, truth and hope that a mother delivers to her newborn. A singer-songwriter for three decades, Griffith paints poignantly understated vignettes of life in her songs, like in the dime store romance "Love at the Five and Dime." Covered by many, her own choice and interpretation of others' songs flow with her demeanor, evidenced by her Grammy win in the '90s for a cover album. Griffith coaxes her slightly nasal and weary, honeyed voice above too-often-overlooked guitar playing. Able to turn up the energy and the twang, and most recently releasing an album of torch songs, Griffith is best when providing comfort and peace. $25-$40/ 8 p.m.—Andrew Ritchey
01.21 K-HILL @ MARVELL EVENT CENTER
Last year, midway through WXDU's Love is Local hip-hop showcase in Chapel Hill, the show's promoter wasn't sure if K-Hill was going to show up to perform as scheduled. Next thing you know, K-Hill comes casually strolling around the corner accompanied by two trumpeters and a trombonist—all three being late additions to K-Hill's set. It was one of those "never on schedule, but always on time" moments. You can always expect these sort of slick surprises from the Bull City's most snoozed-on emcee. If there's a hip-hop awakening awaiting in the Triangle's trenches, this man will undoubtedly be the first to rise. With Priceless, Diablo Archer and Keisha Shontelle. $3-$4/ 9 p.m. —Eric Tullis
01.17 LONGWAVE @ LOCAL 506
In such trying economic times, it's important to spend wisely, and this week, you've just got better options (Vic Chesnutt at Local 506, or Titus Andronicus at Cat's Cradle, for instance) than New York quartet Longwave: After two albums and a steady waning of critical support after The Strokes explosion had fizzled, Longwave got dropped in the Sony/BMI merger. They put the band down and picked up side projects that probably paid better, like backing Stroke Albert Hammond Jr. on tour. Longwave's reconvened, though, signing to an indie label and relaxing its formerly tense post-punk pop through space and slowly percolating textures. But, coming from New York, a city that's fed even the most middle-of-the-road alternative fans some remarkably inventive stuff this decade, Longwave feels safer than a croquet match on a spring day, sweet tea on a sail boat. Longwave takes risks with a textural second guitar or rhythms slightly bent by electronics. $10 for something maybe a decade late? It's your money, after all. With Aminal Music and Mark Kano and Mike Garrigan of Athenaeum, whatever that still means. $10/ 9:30 p.m. —Grayson Currin
THURSDAY, JAN. 15
RANDY ROGERS BAND
Claim to fame: Breakout country-rock act that's opened for The Eagles, Willie Nelson, Dierks Bentley and Gary Allan
Parked outside of the Berkeley Cafe, Randy Rogers was feeling pretty happy with himself in the bus's back lounge: His namesake band's self-titled sixth release was suitably following up the success of his 2006 major label debut,
Just a Matter of Time. He even got bassist Jon Richardson to write the two best tracks, "Wicked Ways" and "When the Circus Comes to Town," which blend Brady Black's powerful fiddle with haunted backwoods bustle and mournful, Rhodes-driven, blues-tinged shamble. Rogers tossed together some folksy jangle, barroom country two-steps and even some outlaw country strut to fill it out, and he's watched the listeners roll in. If sometimes a bit calculated, he knows how to bring it live. Tonight, he's ready. At BERKELEY CAFE. $15/ 8 p.m.
From: Fredericksburg, Va.
Claim to fame: His one-man-band's appeal to adherents from Dave Matthews Band and String Cheese Incident's camps
So Rogers is relatively unperturbed when he steps out of his bus to confront the musician whose sedan just hit his bus. He notes the other guy's small stature, armed only with some guitars and a mixer, then laughs, "Isn't Keller Williams a real estate agent? The market must be bad to take up music." Like an ADD child, Williams never stops moving, demonstrating for the country boys what he does. He layers loops, jamming with himself on acoustic and electric, spiraling around the befuddled band, beatboxing them into submission. His loose-limbed, meandering folk-blues mesmerizes like those baby face videos for toddlers. Rogers' band succumbs to Williams like the cloud of a contact buzz. Beware attention-addled elfin jam enthusiasts. At LINCOLN THEATRE. $20-$25/ 8 p.m. —Chris Parker
FRIDAY, JAN. 16
YARN/ TRANSPORTATION/ JOE ROMEO
From: 2005/ 1997/ 2007
Since: Brooklyn/ Carrboro
Claim to fame: A night of comfort music
If you're looking to settle in and sway to new music that feels somehow familiar, tonight's three-act lineup at SLIM'S couldn't be more conducive: At 8 p.m., ambling alt.roots act Yarn offers the night's first set, full of muted country moans and shuffles tempered by melodies that kick with the sweetness of radio pop. A rock backbeat drops into the mix at 10 p.m. with two Carrboro bands that sound like they'd fit well running in the grooves beneath a turntable's needle: Joe Romeo's music with his Orange County Volunteers is slinking soul, slightly sinister and entirely suspect of what "the game they call love" has to offer him. Transportation alternately charges like the Stooges on sugar, drifts like a yacht on rock and lifts like McCartney on Wings. Relaxation awaits you. Yarn will cost you $8. The late locals will cost you $3.
THE EXPLORERS CLUB/ THE HUGUENOTS
From: Charleston, S.C./ Chapel Hill
Since: 2005/ 2006
Claim to fame: Sounds of the '60s, with outfits!
If you're looking to dance just a little bit without throwing down to beats that are too hard, tonight's double-header at LOCAL 506 is perfect for a little shuffling and twirling: Chapel Hill opener The Huguenots (as featured on Good Morning America) reaches deep into the British Invasion, its Merseybeat movements speaking more of hearts and smiles than the concepts and conceits that later infiltrated those infectious waves. Charleston's The Explorers Club brings to mind the waves of another '60s shore: Last year's Freedom Wind was a Beach Boys homage in every way, from themes of young love and luxurious harmonies to thoughtful keyboards and guitar backdrops. The quintet doesn't really advance the form as many of its indie rock peers have attempted, but, as you dance to "Hold Me Tight," that probably won't be your biggest concern. $7/ 10 p.m. —Grayson Currin