This week's guide contains:
YES, PLEASE: Fruit Bats, Pronto, God's Pottery, The Daredevil Christopher Wright, Jaunita & The Rabbit, Gift Horse, Pride Parade, A.A. Bondy
EH, WHATEVER: Owl City
VS.: Red Collar vs. Urban Sophisticates vs. All Your Science, Veelee
INTRODUCING: It's Just Vanity
SONG OF THE WEEK: Billy Sugarfix's "Take a Shower"
09.10 FRUIT BATS, PRONTO @ LOCAL 506
Fruit Bats auteur Eric Johnson finally settled on a full-time backing unit prior to the recording of The Ruminant Band and took the songs on the road beforehand, resulting in a more vibrant, harder-rocking sound than on his prior three releases. He's still in thrall to sunny '60s-inflected country-folk pop, but this record's organic approach loosens some of the graceful pop mannerism that crept into his more studied studio creations. What's remained most consistent is his sweet cooing tenor and gift for melody. The latter's further enhanced by his backing band's frequent harmonies, which amplify the music's lived-in warmth. Wilco keyboardist Mikael Jorgensen "keys" Pronto's thin soul-pop. $10-$12/ 8:45 p.m. —Chris Parker
09.12 GOD'S POTTERY @ NIGHTLIGHT
There's something noble, one supposes, in sincere evangelizing and in spreading religious doctrine through song. And there's something hilarious when this joyous, often cheesy exaltation is lampooned through hyperbole. Improvisational comedians Krister Johnson and Wilson Hall perform as Gideon Lamb (Johnson) and Jeremiah Smallchild (Hall) to form the acoustic Christian rock duo God's Pottery. The two find the silliness in their characters without causing offense with songs like "The Pants Come Off When the Ring Goes On" and "Jesus I Need a Drink." Tonight's show is in support of their debut book, What Would God's Pottery Do?: The Ultimate Guide to Surviving Your Teens and/or Being Successful! $8-10/ 9 p.m. —Andrew Ritchey
09.12 THE DAREDEVIL CHRISTOPHER WRIGHT @ DUKE COFFEEHOUSE
Though occasionally too ponderous and precocious to communicate the energy and elegance at work within its songs, In Deference to a Broken Back—the debut LP from Eau Claire, Wisc., trio The Daredevil Christopher Wright—runs plentiful on charms. Jason, Jon and Jesse offer tender tales about friends laced through intricate counterpoints and textures, their unexpected dynamic shifts tucking a song away only to fling it to the big screen at a moment's notice. Think The Decemberists' thematic complexity mellowing beside Bombadil's rustic eclecticism, and you're close. The wonderful Tender Fruit opens tonight. Daredevil also plays Thursday night at The Cave at 10 p.m. —Grayson Currin
09.15 PRIDE PARADE @ THE RESERVOIR
Athens, Ga., quintet Pride Parade shares more than a sleepy college town and a band name lifted from the LGBT community with Southern metal figureheads Harvey Milk. Like the Milk, Pride Parade's steely, heavy music revels in the unexpected, lifting from bludgeoning down-tempo trudge into Dinosaur-like guitar pop ebullience or anxious psychedelic jitter. Pangs of distortion come cut by crystal-clear guitar solos flying in from left field. On the band's excellent debut, Dose, frontman Andrew Prater growls a little like The Jesus Lizard's David Yow in a muzzle, sings a little like an antihero version of Doug Martsch, and razes like a heavy metal menace, such as Khanate's Alan Dubin. With SHiLOH and River City Ransom. Donation/ 10 p.m. —Grayson Currin
09.15 JAUNITA & THE RABBIT, GIFT HORSE @ THE CAVE
Betrothed San Fran duo Juanita & The Rabbit burnish smoky garage-psych heavy on the groove. Credit Brett Cline's bass, which traces deep trenches with hip-swinging assurance, punctuated by the crash of cymbals and minimalist beats. It's Blue Cheer minus the guitar. That's enjoyable in a codeine-haze kind of way, but the Clines also have a fine sense of humor, manifest on their paean to dope, "Juanita," and the punky, self-deprecatory "We Live in a M*th*rf*cking Van." Check the battle cry: "We don't have a motherfucking plan/ At least we ain't working for the man." $5/ 10 p.m. —Chris Parker
09.15 A.A. BONDY @ LOCAL 506
In another lifetime, indie kids might have known A.A. Bondy as Scott Bondy, the leader of the thrum-and-crunch Alabama outfit Verbena, which released two stellar albums on Merge before major labels overproduced it into extinction. Bondy returned to music in 2007 with Antique Hearts, a smoldering collection that asked big questions about faith, love and redemption in an intimate, room-sound environment. On his second solo venture, When the Devil's Loose, Bondy bends deeply into the dark, his tender vibrato offering matchsticks of light against a world of vampires, trains leaving stations and dreams that died before they were born. A smoldering and spare rustle of piano and guitar, When the Devil's Loose bends toward the ear and whispers un-pleasantries, beautifully. With Sean Bones and Marmoset. $8-10/ 9 p.m. —Grayson Currin
09.11 OWL CITY @ CAT'S CRADLE
Luckily, youth is something from which most people recover, so we'll try to forgive Owl City auteur Adam Young in advance when he cuts the cheese with groaners like "the spaces between my fingers are right where yours fit perfectly" on "Vanilla Twilight." (What exactly is "Vanilla Twilight," exactly? Anesthesia by sad, characterless, sub-Postal Service electro-snore, perhaps?) However, as he's 23 not 18, the soft-headed sap shows few signs of improvement. It isn't even the bad/sad rhyme schemes or burbling synths that suggest the Muzak at Sears as much as it's the Disney-fied sentimentalism that makes Nickelodeon seem adult, Conor Oberst stoic, and Young like a s(h)allow, pitiable shut-in. With Kate Havnevik and Unicorn Kid. $12-$14/ 8 p.m. —Chris Parker
SATURDAY, SEPT. 12
Claim to fame: Pulling arena-sized anthems back into sweaty clubs
Durham quartet Red Collar rose to the top echelon of Triangle bands fairly quickly. They were, after all, the band's band, the four (then five) believers willing to cram into any Triangle alleyway or living room or climb atop any stage to sweat and shout songs about making a difference, clinching dreams and grasping opportunity. Then, earlier this year, they actually went for it: All four members quit good jobs (or took extended leaves of absence) and hit the road, booking their way to Texas, up to Massachusetts and beyond. Gigs have begun to pick up, and they've landed a strong New York-based publicist to help them spread their self-made gospel. It's a tale that's as motivational as almost any one of their songs, really. With I Was Totally Destroying It, Pink Flag and The Demon Beat for a Carolina Rollergirls after party. At TIR NA NOG. $5/ 10:30 p.m.
Claim to fame: Turning hip-hop shows into more than DJs and microphones
Triad septet The Urban Sophisticates are often rightly labeled as a party band. After all, they bring the horns, the drums, the bass and the vocals to a hip-hop show, an area that's generally resigned itself to being a lifeless re-creation of moments better served on record. And ass-baiting tunes like "First of the Drinks" or the fist-clenching anthem "Head Nod Hood Rock" confirm that reputation. But there's a tender, nearly subdued side to the horn-blaring, hook-landing Sophisticates, too: "You'd Stay," from last year's Classic Material, eases smoky blue notes beneath a stoic rhyme about the anxiety of finding common ground with an old lover. Oh, and there's an underhanded Counting Crows reference. With The Beast and Future. At THE POUR HOUSE. $8/ 10 p.m.
ALL YOUR SCIENCE, VEELEE
From: Durham, Chapel Hill
Since: 2007, 2008
Claim to fame: Becoming two of the areas best duos, suddenly
Duos are often more about the shtick than the sound, or more about expressing a neat idea—"Hey, look what we can do with only two people"—than making a lasting impression. Veelee and All Your Science, both relatively new bands, don't fall into that pattern. All Your Science's largely instrumental pieces suggest a collaboration between Tortoise and Bedhead, its twisting guitar lines generally staid but never somnolent and its snappy rhythms always active but never self-aggrandizing. Were these tunes not so compact, you could get lost in these tones. Veelee also works from a guitar-and-drum template, but Ginger Wagg and Matthew Park seem to build from the pop song outward, spiraling charming little melodies into complex (but still compact) twists. With Gross Ghost at THE PINHOOK. $5/ 10 p.m. —Grayson Currin
09.10 IT'S JUST VANITY @ SLIM'S
The Triangle's home to plenty of collegiate transplants who never leave, and It's Just Vanity is no exception. The Chapel Hill quartet formed behind Louis Erazo and Kelson Fagan, who knew each other from high school in New Jersey before heading to North Carolina for school (University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill and Elon University, respectively). They graduated in 2007 and six months ago united in this quartet. The EP Strangers followed. "We hit the ground running," Erazo says. "Kelson and I knew each other's styles, and everyone gelled real quickly."
Their tracks balance hypnotic, drifting passages with chunky indie rock churn, which they've been told sounds like Explosions in the Sky with catchy choruses. From the Floorboards to the Sky, their 8-track, 48-minute debut LP, is now being mastered for a fall release in advance of a two-week October tour that will take them to St. Louis and back. Meanwhile, the quartet continues polishing its dynamic, richly melodic tunes. "The LP has more instrumental breakdowns and airy melodic parts, cut with a more upbeat, rougher sound," Erazo says. Given the band's short time together, it's remarkably well-realized music, offering plenty of promise. Once and Future Kings headline. $3/ 10 p.m. —Chris Parker