This week's guide contains:
YES, PLEASE: Neil Diamond All-Stars, Maserati, The Bain Project Fundraiser, Hymns, Pink Flag, Samantha Crain
VS.: Morrissey vs. Modest Mouse vs. Kathleen Edwards vs. Dan Tyminski & Tony Rice Unit
INTRODUCING: The Sundowners
03.06 NEIL DIAMOND ALL-STARS @ CAT'S CRADLE
Neil Diamond is an American original who spun his Brill Building talents into gold with a sound suited to the country—big, rich and overly sentimental. But you don't have to be a Red Sox fan, father or an oenophile to appreciate "Sweet Caroline," "Girl, You'll Be A Woman Soon" and "Red, Red Wine." Our own Jack Whitebread mimics not only Diamond's unschooled croon but also his swagger. He's assembled a crack backing band to recreate the music's elegant sway, from the strings to a trio of sonorous female back-ups. Maybe we all know the song, but you need what you need. A rare appearance that is not to be missed; Dave Spencer Band opens. $10/ 9:30 p.m. —Chris Parker
03.06 MASERATI @ LOCAL 506
The shimmering buzz reflecting off Maserati is warm and inviting. Its math-letic drive powers the band through the bends, accelerating and cornering neatly, before easing back to appreciate the surrounding landscape. The Athens instrumentalists arrive a lot closer to the impressionistic washes of space rock avatars like Bardo Pond or Quickspace than the knotty churn of Tortoise or the dark expressionism of Sigúr Ros. The early psych of Pink Floyd's also a touchstone. Local trio Fin Fang Foom sanded down many of their own sharp edges on 2005's more delicate Native Tongues EP and are currently recording their long-awaited third LP. Monsonia—brutal and intense—open. $7/ 10 p.m. —Chris Parker
03.07 THE BAIN PROJECT FUNDRAISER @ 313 W. MARTIN ST.
Named and opened in 1940 for longtime city water superintendent Ernest Battle Bain, the Bain Water Treatment Plant was built with city bonds and Public Works Administration funds to supply water to the growing hinterlands of Raleigh. It was closed in 1987. And now, at least temporarily, the city's artists are claiming the space with such latent development potential for themselves: Since July, 10 local artists including Lee Moore, Tim Kiernan and Sarah Powers have been constructing site-specific pieces in Bain, and those works will premiere together May 9. To fund that kick-off, 10 bands that participated in one of the projects—recording sessions that used the space's dimensions as naturally idiosyncratic audio environments—play an 11-hour marathon on Martin Street. Expect slowly trickling electronics from Tomas Phillips, serrated drones and teeming atmospheres from Craig Hilton and Subscape Annex, and boundless improvisations from jazz-niks Razor Wire Safety Net and MG3+One before 7 p.m. Expect movement from the bucolic harmonies of The Tender Fruit to the stripped jangle of Ivan Rosebud from 7 to 11 p.m., with glimpses at bright new Oak City prospects—Old Bricks and Mount Weather—surrounding those sets. For more, see www.bainproject.com. $5/ noon-11 p.m. —Grayson Currin
03.08 HYMNS @ SLIM'S
If New York's Hymns contradicts its metropolitan home with its Arcadian sound, that's for good reason: The foursome's split origins—half from Texas, half from North Carolina—are apparent in its country-rock amble. Recalling the clean, twangy, if not adventuresome, pop of early Wilco, Travel in Herds comes laden with sweet harmonies and soulful horns teased by banjo flings and pedal steel flights. The whiskey spirit of Atlanta's Death on Two Wheels, on the other hand, maintains the allegiance to '70s Southern rock you'd expect. The Bridges conjure the cute, coquettish charm of Eisley, right down to the sisters with cherubic harmonies. $5/ 10 p.m. —Spencer Griffith
03.08 PINK FLAG @ THE CAVE
If tonight's not fun for you, the entertainment isn't the problem: This trio of trios begins with The Homewreckers, a Durham band whose frantic, uneasy guitar patterns shape the perfect platform for Jill Homewrecker. Her unpolished, impetuous vocal delivery hits like a cross between Kim Gordon and Junior Kimbrough. With three-part harmonies punched up with one of Durham's best drum/ guitar combinations, Pink Flag twists with defiance, its melodies the sugar convincing you to love the constant sour. Look for Nashville's The Middlemen, fronted by the gruff Bobby Gray, to cross the night into country that rattles like jumping beans in a tin can. $5/ 10 p.m. —Grayson Currin
03.09 SAMANTHA CRAIN @ LOCAL 506
The first time I saw Samantha Crain, the Oklahoma native was standing on a too-large stage in a too-empty local room, filling the void with songs so confident and considered that you just knew the crowd would gather shortly. Arranged simply like alt.country dust-ups but written with rich images, youthful esprit and twists of tale that delighted in complexity, Crain's songs sounded too special to be ignored. Not even a year later, the 22-year-old's first LP, the forthcoming Songs in the Night, should be strong enough to attract massive attention. Headliner William Elliott Whitmore drags his rattling baritone through a haunted graveyard of Old Weird America woe into the faintest sunshine. Minnesota's Ben Weaver opens. $8-$10/ 9 p.m. —Grayson Currin
Wednesday, March 11
From: Originally, Manchester, England
Since: Solo since 1987
Claim to fame: Founding member of The Smiths and a killer haircut
This world's most revered questionably asexual vegetarian crooner finally comes to the Triangle for the first time this decade. Supporting Years of Refusal, his ninth studio album since The Smiths broke up in 1987, 49-year-old Morrissey is as arresting and enigmatic as ever. His coif stands tall and proud. His shirt refuses to keep buttoned. And his exceptional warble has preserved nearly all its brassy glory. Without a doubt, the Moz still has it. And Years of Refusal may very well be his strongest solo work since 1994's Vauxhall and I. It's gloriously self-important, surprisingly hard-edged and unmistakably Moz, with Jerry Finn's (You Are the Quarry) sharp production amplifying the Manchester son's razor tongue.
Mozzer last graced the Triangle on his 1997 Maladjusted tour at The Ritz (now Disco Rodeo). Fortunately, this year's performance is at a venue better suited for anyone with a penchant for comfort and a pair of working eardrums. With its massive, swanky interior, a 50-foot-by-50-foot stage, and state-of-the-art lighting and PA systems, the Durham Performing Arts Center is lauded as a world-class venue, or at least better in any aspect than The Ritz was or Disco Rodeo is. And if that's not incentive enough, Morrissey recently went on record saying he doesn't plan on touring after age 55. Considering it's been a dozen years since he's been anywhere so close, one shouldn't plan on him making it back before 2014. At the DURHAM PERFORMING ARTS CENTER with Red Cortez. $25-$42/ 7:30 p.m.
From: Originally, Issaquah, Wash.
Claim to fame: The 2004 hit single "Float On" being played nonstop everywhere you went for a solid year
Modest Mouse's Isaac Brock is one of indie rock's most textbook success stories. Kid's mom leaves his father for his father's brother. Kid moves into a shed next to his new stepfather's trailer. Kid turns 18, starts a band, records some phenomenal albums, signs to a major label and invites The Smiths' guitarist to join his band. Totally textbook. At DISCO RODEO. $32-$35/ 9 p.m. —Rich Ivey
DAN TYMINSKI AND TONY RICE UNIT
From: Tennessee (by way of New England)/ North Carolina
Since: late '80s/ late '60s
Claim to fame: Giving voice to George Clooney/ Making his guitar sing
When I first heard the voice of Dan Tyminski, it was emerging from another mouth—George Clooney's. On the acting tip, Clooney needs no assistance, but he did need help with the singing in the Coen Brothers' movie O Brother, Where Art Thou? Enter Tyminski's stunt tenor, most notably on "Man of Constant Sorrow." Of course, the more alert already knew Tyminski from his pivotal instrumental (guitar and mandolin) and vocal contributions to the Lonesome River Band and Alison Krauss' Union Station. Flatpicking marvel Tony Rice's contributions are too numerous to mention, but his work in the Bluegrass Alliance, the New South and the David Grisman Quintet make fine starting points. At MEYMANDI CONCERT HALL. $20-$35/ 8 p.m.
Claim to fame: Making songs radios should like
When I first heard the voice of Kathleen Edwards, I was in another country—Canada. Acting on a tip, I made the hour drive from the wilds of Ontario to a Kingston record store to score a copy of Edwards' debut full-length Failer. A crush was born on the return trip as I played "One More Song the Radio Won't Like" repeatedly, just to piss off my radio. The song (and the record) was a perfect mix of the detail-oriented quirk-folk of Suzanne Vega and the gravel-road roots-rock of Lucinda Williams, with plenty of Neil Young and Tom Petty love peeking through. The perfection and the crush remain. At THE ARTSCENTER. $15-$18/ 8 p.m. —Rick Cornell
03.09 THE SUNDOWNERS @ THE POUR HOUSE
The band name may not be familiar, but the faces and voices sure are: The Sundowners is a casual collective featuring members of Roman Candle, Max Indian, The Old Ceremony, Boxbomb, Luego, Mount Moriah ... hell, if there's an Orange County band they haven't recorded with, it's only because they haven't had the time.
But somehow, between all those projects and work on their own material, these nine Carrboro hands—not everyone appears at each show, according to drummer James Wallace—found enough idle time to jam that it led to the formation of The Sundowners.
"We spent so many evenings in Josh Moore's living room playing music together, we figured we should just get a gig at The Station and get paid to do the same thing," explained Wallace. "We play covers and originals, but we try to make everything relaxed: slow down the tempo, play less. Right now, [we're] obsessed with the Linda Ronstadt song 'Different Drum.'"
The outfit's still wet behind its ears—not a MySpace stream or YouTube flick to be found—but expect homespun pop/rock jaunts, not unlike the amiable breeze these moonlighters ply by day. With Keegan DeWitt and Gabriel Kelley. Free/ 9 p.m. —Spencer Griffith