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The Octopus Project, Davila 666, The Kickin Grass Band, Cadillac Stepbacks, Mighty Gospel Inspirations, Old Bricks, The Kingsbury Manx, The Astronomers, Tori Amos, more

The guide to the week's concerts 



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This week's guide contains:

YES, PLEASE: The Proclivities, Modern Skirts, Mighty Gospel Inspirations, Unknown Hinson, Old Bricks, The Kingsbury Manx, White Cascade, The Astronomers

EH, WHATEVER: Tori Amos

VS.: The Octopus Project vs. Davila 666

CATCHING UP...: The Kickin Grass Band, Cadillac Stepbacks



YES, PLEASE

07.31 THE PROCLIVITIES, MODERN SKIRTS @ THE POUR HOUSE

The Proclivities serve up sharp, honest pop tunes, which is often code for quality songwriting with neutered, tasteful instrumentation. Fortunately, the Raleigh trio's rock savvy is evident on dynamic numbers like "Anyways" and "The Elephant," guitars and drums dashing with flair. Modern Skirts' R.E.M.-endorsed pop-rock values melodies that grow over immediate hooks. The Athens quartet rarely knocks one out of the park, but its reliably solid songwriting sets a high standard. Decked in marching band uniforms and complete with a horn section, Nashville ensemble Heypenny's melodic whimsy recalls our own sorely missed Bombadil, had the latter limited its explorations purely to the pop arena. $7/ 9 p.m. —Spencer Griffith

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08.01 MIGHTY GOSPEL INSPIRATIONS @ SAXAPAHAW MUSIC SERIES

The harmonizing of brothers Mike and Ken Sanders, who've been merging their voices divinely for over 40 years, is the rock upon which this quintet's unaccompanied gospel is built. On the Mighty Gospel Inspirations' recent In Black and White, fellow vocal instrumentalists Larry Perry, James Bailey and Robert Waldrop join the Sanders brothers for an album of time-tested monuments to inspiration ("John the Revelator," "Swing Low Sweet Chariot," and "Precious Lord") as well as timely originals ("Well Enough Alone" and "Don't Give Up"). The Mighty Gospel Inspirations offer a program full of soul and the Spirit. Donations/ 6 p.m. —Rick Cornell

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08.01 UNKNOWN HINSON @ BERKELEY CAFE

Redneck will never die because the undead like their beer, chew and trashy women, too. Unknown Hinson is the nightwalker answer to Southern Culture on the Skids, a Hank Sr.-loving, twang-guitar-shredding, stereotype-inverting country rocker who's been to hell and back and has the T-shirt to prove it. He's adroit at everything from tears-in-your-beer honky tonk to hot-footed country swing and rabid rockabilly, delivered with stubborn backwoods diction and tongue-in-cheek humor. Not only has the Charlotte-area performer released a half-dozen studio and live albums during the last decade, but he's the voice of Early Cuyler on Adult Swim cartoon The Squidbillies. With Blood Red River. $15/ 9 p.m. —Chris Parker

08.01 OLD BRICKS, THE KINGSBURY MANX @ THE PINHOOK

The makers of two of the Triangle's finest 2009 records convene here. The Kingsbury Manx's Ascenseur Ouvert! colors its wry, slightly weary tunes with a palette of pastels. Chiming and humming keyboards, trotting acoustic guitars and burrowing electric leads add a soft bright glow, like light cutting into melodies that linger like still Southern air. Raleigh's Old Bricks surrounds its creaking tunes in browns and grays, though, letting sheets of guitar noise and reverb-flooded vocals whirl behind finger-picked laments. Look for the band's stunning self-released debut, Farmers, later this year. Openers The Ventricles bring high tones down from the mountain. Its coruscated washes of sound set tuneful jewels in waves of atmosphere and drone. All told, a relaxed but expansive three-band bill. 10 p.m. —Grayson Currin

08.02 WHITE CASCADE, THE ASTRONOMERS @ THE CAVE

Raleigh's White Cascade—a trio of Matts (Cash, Guess and Robbins) making dense, dynamic shoegaze—has a knack for being several things at once. It can squall like My Bloody Valentine, throb like Jesu and go poppy like the Jesus and Mary Chain. The trio's mostly instrumental tunes (vocals here are just another texture) can, within the same moment, be spacious, monolithic and surprising, like the reflection of stars sparkling in the black, glassy face of a wave, just before it crashes. For this show, they're joined by the Charlottesville, Va., indie rock trio The Astronomers, who, despite the name, don't take listeners into orbit like the White Cascade can. $5/9 p.m. —Bryan Reed


EH, WHATEVER

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07.31 TORI AMOS @ DPAC

One can only hope that fans of Tori Amos aren't as humorless as this performer's overwrought piano dramas. Amos wrenches her breathy, fluttering vocals like she's wringing the last drop from a ketchup packet, dripping maudlin over corndog theatrics. She's the musical equivalent of Beaches, an artist whose appeal is generally limited to those lacking the discernment to appreciate more creative contemporaries like Regina Spektor or Chan Marshall. Full of squishy mysticism, turgid melodrama and somewhat atmospheric arrangements ground down by their ponderous pulse, Amos isn't so much an acquired taste as the taste of those who've yet to acquire any. $39.50-$49.50/ 8 p.m. —Chris Parker


WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 5

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THE OCTOPUS PROJECT

From: Austin
Since: 1999
Claim to fame: Theremins, keyboards, beats, oh my!

The covers of The Octopus Project's nine releases share a central aesthetic. Whether plopping the band's members in a sky made of circles or depicting a phantasmagorical nun with three eyes, sharp teeth and a guitar with two necks extending from one point, the artwork always bends basic shapes into new ones that—even if not compelling—are always curious. Those images fit The Project's music—a mix of plain ol' rock instruments, theremin and a patchwork of pedals—which sometimes forsakes shape for sound. The band often lacks the locomotive of good songs. But the eight arms dress the discursion in interesting tones, at least, borrowing cues from Tortoise, Fridge and three decades of other bands that found ways to climax with curiosity. With Gray Young. At CAT'S CRADLE. $10-$12/ 9 p.m.

VS.

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DAVILA 666

From: Puerto Rico
Since: 2006
Claim to fame: Plundering the common wealth of rock's heritage

The cover of Davila 666's eponymous debut LP, released last year by newly chic, longtime primo scuzz-pop syndicate In the Red, assembles a menagerie of ephemera in one still black-and-white frame. There's a monster mask, a gorilla's head, a box of blunts, 3-D glasses, native talismans, a crucifix, a statue of Jesus and, above it all, a big boombox with a tape deck. It's a fitting image, as the party line on these tuneful Puerto Rican exports is that they're—gasp—a Puerto Rican rock band. But the songs are bigger than the story. Mining an ear for jangle and a mind for the mess that can be made with it, these Spanish-singing devils spin tunes so sweet through production so fuzzy and solos so slippery. With Jimmy & the Teasers and Pinche Gringo in the corner, they're sort of unstoppable tonight. At LOCAL 506. $8/ 9:30 p.m. —Grayson Currin


click to enlarge The Kickin Grass Band
  • The Kickin Grass Band

CATCHING UP...

07.31 THE KICKIN GRASS BAND, CADILLAC STEPBACKS @ BERKELEY CAFE

The Kickin Grass Band touts Raleigh in its songs "Hometown" and "Backroads," but the five-piece hasn't played around these parts for a bit. That doesn't mean the band hasn't been busy, though. After drafting Barefoot Manner banjoist Hank Smith, Kickin Grass released its self-titled third album in October, a fine collection of traditional bluegrass and folk-inspired tunes boosted by first-rate chops and guitarist Lynda Wittig Dawson's storytelling abilities. NPR's Car Talk recently featured a cut from that disc, and the band will soon head to Virginia to record a performance for the PBS series Song of the Mountains. The biggest and most exciting news, though: The band's vintage tour bus is still running.

Smith, mandolinist Matt Jamie Dawson and fiddler Matt Hooper have also been moonlighting in No Strings Attached with Jason Hedrick of The Cadillac Stepbacks, who joins Kickin Grass for this bill. The Stepbacks have been largely inactive lately, but the band hasn't lost the ability to hide the sorrow of Nathan Golub's heartsore originals and lovelorn traditionals beneath quick pickin'. $8-$10/ 9 p.m. —Spencer Griffith

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Thanks for the note, Amy. We've adjusted the text.

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