This week's guide contains:
YES, PLEASE: The Jackets, Sam Quinn & the Japan 10, Camera Obscura, Anni Rossi, Chatham County Pajama Party with The Moaners, Taz Halloween, Twilighter, The Duhks, Sam & Ruby, Alina Simone, Bellafea, Maple Stave, Telepathe, Lemonade
EH, WHATEVER: Relient K, Owl City
VS.: Luego vs. House of Fools
INTRODUCING: Free Electric State
06.19 THE JACKETS, SAM QUINN & THE JAPAN 10 @ THE POUR HOUSE
It's been a bittersweet season for Concord's Ramseur Records. Just as the label's flagship and conjoined twin The Avett Brothers makes the final preparations for the release of its masterful major-label debut in August, two of the imprint's bright young lights—Durham's Bombadil and Tennessee's the everybodyfields—call it quits. But you can't keep a singer as good as everybodyfields' co-founder Sam Quinn down long. His latest, Sam Quinn & the Japan 10, drags the smoldering ache of his old outfit into the saloon, tinny piano and groaning strings adding a newfound pluck beneath his forlorn air. The Jackets funnel the expert playing of Chatham County Liners and Hotel Lights into concise, hook-centric rock, like Badfinger electrifying the American standards of The Band. $6-$8/ 10 p.m. —Grayson Currin
06.20 CAMERA OBSCURA, ANNI ROSSI @ CAT'S CRADLE
The Glaswegian indie-pop band Camera Obscura began its career as an adorable but timid Belle and Sebastian clone. After honing their sound over a couple of albums on our own Merge Records, they recently released their best work, My Maudlin Career, on 4AD, cementing the band's status as a formidable pop force—whip-smart yet Starbucks-friendly. It's a record full of deliriously melodramatic strings, but singer Tracyanne Campbell has no problem holding her own against them, given the newfound confidence with which she sings her heartfelt but emotionally guarded lyrics. Camera Obscura brings along its young label-mate Anni Rossi, who makes feisty, Feist-y songs centered around viola and voice. $15/9:15 p.m. —Brian Howe
06.21 CHATHAM COUNTY PAJAMA PARTY WITH THE MOANERS, TAZ HALLOWEEN, TWILIGHTER @ THE CAVE
Everyone knows the coolest place to spend your summer is in a cave. Tonight's pajama party in The Cave promises marshmallow kabobs and fondue served on a bed of expressive rock. Moody gut-busting blues fuzz pours from the Moaners like it's on tap. Meanwhile, Twilighter's anxious rhythms sputter like film caught in the projector, the off-kilter frame gradually mesmerizing with surface angularity above structural melody. Taz Halloween's torch vocals are so irrepressible and all-consuming that they could be marketed as Duraflame, shrouded in a smoky allure that echoes through the evening like "last call." Donation/ 9 p.m. —Chris Parker
06.21 THE DUHKS, SAM & RUBY @ BERKELEY CAFE
The last time The Duhks visited Raleigh, local roots booker Marianne Taylor diligently watched the front door, ensuring a one-in, one-out flow through the Berkeley entrance. The house was packed to see the band before it made its perennial appearance at the Shakori Hills festival. And for good reason, too: The Winnipeg five-piece covers a palette of folk and Americana tastes with a motley blend of cosmopolitan flavors—scattering marímbula here, bouzouki there—beneath alluring frontwoman Sarah Dugas' trilingual vocals. Openers Sam & Ruby are an elegant pop duo greater than the sum of its parts: Setting aside solo careers that churned out marginal adult-alternative ditties, the songwriting pair—he from Green Bay, she of Ghana—authored The Duhks' Grammy-nominated "Heaven's My Home" before recording an EP that finds their soulful voices blending like soulmates. $17-$20/ 8 p.m. —Spencer Griffith
06.24 ALINA SIMONE @ DUKE GARDENS
Though her most recent album consisted of Russian-language covers of an obscure punk legend from Siberia, one-time Carrboro citizen Alina Simone has long seemed poised for a mainstream breakthrough. At her last stop in town, Simone played a dual English-Russian set, while debuting poppier material from a forthcoming full-length. She describes the album as having "feverish Brazilian drum tracks, flute solos, blaring trumpets, luscious strings and loads of harmonies." In other words, it should offer another diversion from the direct, haunting, melodies of 2007's Placelessness, her excellent, Carrboro-penned debut. Expect a world of sounds, both dark and light, in the perfect setting for Simone's ostensibly borderless voice. $5-$10/ 8 p.m. —Matt Saldaña
06.24 BELLAFEA, UME, MAPLE STAVE @ THE PINHOOK
A righteous encore for Thursday, June 18's Double Dagger show (see 8 Days A Week), this bill stacks three trios committed to volume and attitude: Bellafea's Heather McEntire and Ume's Lauren Langer Larson are two of the best bandleaders you'll ever see, dual dervishes who move across the stage in fits and starts, arriving at their microphones just in time to unleash indignation through voices that suggest razor blades dripping honey. Dallas' Ume tempered its attack for last year's Sunshower EP, but Larson's voice still glows with danger. The instrumentals of Durham's Maple Stave treat tension as a way of life, its guitars and drums pulled tight like tripwires. $5/ 9 p.m. —Grayson Currin
06.24 TELEPATHE, LEMONADE @ LOCAL 506
Busy Gangnes and Melissa Livaudais—co-founders of Telepathe—made scattered early attempts at low-tech electro-pop that were malleable templates for numerous remixes but insubstantial on their own merits. Their new album, Dance Mother, smoothes those miscues into neatly produced songs with bounce, especially on the single, "So Fine," which recalls a mid-period Depeche Mode fronted by two long-tressed young women. Not that these new songs aren't intended fodder for remix, too: In what could be called template-pop, their tunes are often issued with their remixes in tow. The best tunes tagged Telepathe often come from someone's source scrambling. Lemonade appear as new gatekeepers of the dance and rock music divide, appealing to the latter's fans with an appreciation of the former. The Rapture, caught on a loose night, make a close comparison. DJ Charlie Burnett opens. $8/ 9:30 p.m. —Chris Toenes
06.23 RELIENT K, OWL CITY @ LINCOLN THEATRE
The only difference between a good thing and decadence is repetition, and that's an instructive generally lost on these bands, who excel (to varying degrees) at shiny, bouncy pop. Everything's so warm, bright and polished, you need shades to protect your peepers. Without a little "frisson," one's attention wanders from the candied melodies, courting something with less surface and more ballast. The Christ-centric punk-pop of Relient K isn't quite buffed to a soulless glow, but you'd have an easier time believing their virginity than a pre-Timberlake Britney. Owl City's shimmering, swooning laptop pop channels The Secret Handshake and PlayRadioPlay!, while Rookie of the Year's emo-pop aches tenderly enough to make Chris Carraba appear hard. $15-$18/ 7:30 p.m. —Chris Parker
FRIDAY, JUNE 19
Claim to fame: Finally finding its sound after a revolving member cast
After spending much of last year touring behind I Know, I Know, Luego leader Patrick Phelan found his band falling apart—again. Phelan regrouped, enlisting a star-studded cast of locals: dB's founder and R.E.M. sideman Peter Holsapple, Roman Candle and Max Indian bandmates Jeff Crawford and Nick Jaeger, Bright Young Things guitarist Cameron Lee and Soulless Dogs drummer Rob DiMauro. The new lineup has coalesced, transforming Luego from a timid, folky indie-pop band into a self-assured, Southern-rooted unit blending classic pop and roots rock. Crawford and Jaeger pull double duty tonight with Max Indian, Carter Gaj's Carrboro collective that stays on the retro kick with masterfully written AM pop numbers. At SLIM'S. $5/ 10 p.m.
HOUSE OF FOOLS
Claim to fame: Signed to Drive-Thru after mailing an unsolicited demo
Though it often falls short of being very memorable, ambitious Triad quintet House of Fools imagines its rock on a grand scale, imbuing it with prog and pop. Take "I Heard a Rumor," for instance, which begins with a duet of voice and gently strummed guitar before gigantic drums, keys and wailing electric guitar guide the tune through a series of twists and turns that open into an epic chorus. Peel away the dramatic layers, though, and the song itself is lacking in substance, its structure weaker than its cover. Raleigh's Lonnie Walker ups the ante with Americana-tinged shanties dosed with indie-rock jitters. Tour mates Motel Motel join the bill from Brooklyn, painting sun-soaked twang-pop soundscapes. At LOCAL 506. $8/ 10 p.m. —Spencer Griffith
06.20 FREE ELECTRIC STATE @ THE PINHOOK
A band reunion and a bar opening beget Free Electric State, a new Durham quartet whose dense rock tunes swirl like My Bloody Valentine as they charge like Harmonia.
"I turned up the volume again, and it was so nice," says David Koslowski, one of the band's two guitarists. In September, Koslowski reunited for a one-off reunion with his old metal/math-steeled Baltimore band, Liquor Bike. "I was like, 'Fuck, I want to rock again."
Koslowski made a new friend who wanted to do the same: Nick Williams, co-owner of The Pinhook on Durham's Main Street and a guitarist without a band, shared Koslowski's interest in the big rhythms and guitar canvasses of krautrock. Koslowski and Williams convened in the bar's backroom to play with drummer Stephen Mullaney (The Wigg Report) and bassist Shirlé Hale-Koslowski (married to David for 10 years and his partner in Gerty! and The Ex-Members). "I hadn't played with another guitar player for 10 years," says Koslowski of playing with Williams. "But it worked out and it all fell into place instantly."
The complex textures and intricate hooks of the band's first EP, appropriately titled 001, betrays the band's newness. They're so new, in fact, that they'll play their second show (and first with drummer Tony Stiglitz) tonight. With Shipwrecker and The Battle Rockets. $5/ 10 p.m. —Grayson Currin