This week's guide contains:
YES, PLEASE: Erie Choir, Audubon Park, Butterflies, The Rosebuds, Megafaun, Transportation, North Elementary, Big Mama E & The Cool and Will McFarlane Band featuring Armand Lenchek, Behemoth, Billy Sugarfix, Wembley
EH, WHATEVER: Jemina Pearl
VS.: The Machine vs. Abbey Road vs. Raleigh Undercover
01.08 ERIE CHOIR, AUDUBON PARK, BUTTERFLIES @ LOCAL 506
Erie Choir's Eric Roehrig has apparently been forgiven about Dresden, and now spends his sympathies on tender folk ministrations, whispering low-key protestations of faith and insinuating himself into pretty, homemade melodies. He may never be a Big Star, but his music's in the right place, with a more baroquely upright manner of neo-psych jangle warmth that haunts like Rain Parade, emanating sweet, understated pastoral jingle. They insist we not call it a comeback, but it's been a while for the Choir and occasional collaborators Audubon Park. Theirs is a ramshackle elegance with horns, shamble and idiosyncrasy, the off-kilter pop instincts recalling Big Dipper. $8/ 10 p.m. —Chris Parker
01.08-09 THE ROSEBUDS, MEGAFAUN @ THE POUR HOUSE
Scene bickering aside, this two-night stand by mutually admiring Oak City trios The Rosebuds and Megafaun—their first ever hometown performances together—is helping this weekend's South Blount Street scene shape up to be one of the most memorable of the young year. As Raleigh's reigning pop king and queen, The Rosebuds' heartfelt tunes land with equal effectiveness whether they come with playful spunk or icy detachment. Gather, Form & Fly—Megafaun's sophomore full-length and our runaway favorite local album of last year—serves as a launching pad for live interpretations of the band's adventurous Americana. Lonnie Walker (Friday) and Hammer No More The Fingers (Saturday)—among the Triangle's best themselves—join as openers. $10-13/ 9 p.m. —Spencer Griffith
01.09 TRANSPORTATION, NORTH ELEMENTARY @ LOCAL 506
Transportation's approach is less four wheels than time machine, harking back to the '70s easy-going pop vibe. There's an ambling shimmer, suggesting fresh-baked Bread fired by Badfinger's power pop fuel cell. It's a compromise between bubbly pulse and wafting beauty that emphasizes how musical context can change, gaining a different shading and new engagement with passing time. North Elementary is a fine match for Transportation, displaying an equal sense of pop shine in more contemporary garb, from bristling indie rock to dreamy atmospheric glimmer and sinewy, tightly wound indie pop. Catchy, smart and idiosyncratic, they're one of the decade's finest local pop stylists—forays into alt-country Wilco-land aside. With The Library and Adam Price & Matt McMichaels. $6/ 9:30 p.m. —Chris Parker
01.09 BIG MAMA E & THE COOL AND WILL MCFARLANE BAND FEATURING ARMAND LENCHEK @ THE ARTSCENTER
OK, there are a lot of folks to identify for this homegrown show, the inaugural offering from this year's American Roots Series. First, there's the mighty-voiced Emma Davis, or Big Mama E when she hits stages. The Cool consists of four cagey vets who've set up shop at the geographic center between rock and R&B, as well as in Big Mama E's general vicinity. Then, moving a step or two R&B-ward, is guitar ace Will McFarlane, he of Bonnie Raitt sideman and Muscle Shoals fame. And holding court in McFarlane's band is co-guitar hero and Bluesology head Armand Lenchek. $13-$15/ 8:30 p.m. —Rick Cornell
01.09 BILLY SUGARFIX, WEMBLEY @ THE PINHOOK
Headliner Billy Sugarfix, a longtime Chapel Hill impresario and bandleader with Evil Wiener, charmed and bemused with sadness on last year's Summer Tempests, the first album released under the name Zen Frisbee gave him long ago for the sweet tooth he'd share at local rock shows. "If I had a dollar for each urge I've had to call her/ Or a nickel for each tear I've shared," he sings gently, like Smog in a safety harness, "I'd take care of her credit cards, her student loans, pay off her car/ And buy a Tempurpedic bed." Hillsborough quartet Wembley has a new EP, Keywords for Robots, which smolders and glows through a mix of Southern sway and Britpop. Asheville trio Now You See Them graces folk ditties with simple harmonies, shaped beneath by a basic accompaniment of electric and acoustic guitar. $5/ 10 p.m. —Grayson Currin
01.09 BEHEMOTH @ VOLUME 11
Merely 18 years into a career that's included stylistic switches, lyrical sea changes and about a dozen former members, Behemoth released its ninth and perhaps most compelling album, Evangelion, just last August. Powerful, precise and loaded with starts, stops and misdirection, Evangelion is an evolved and involved death metal gauntlet, bruising spirituality with muscle and speed while appealing to the duality of religious symbolism. Most remarkable, though, is Inferno, who drums as though he's the team captain: One of the most inventive drummers in metal, he alternates between an approach that turns stacks of beats into peristaltic waves, much like black metal, or one that halts and races with a nearly pointillist vision, controlling the momentum of the machine out front. Tonight, the Polish powerhouse joins Septic Flesh, Graves of Valor and Lightning Swords of Death for a tour presented by rock magazine Revolver. $20/ 8 p.m. —Grayson Currin
01.13 JEMINA PEARL @ LOCAL 506
What a happy day, indeed, when a decent band breaks up and any number of often better acts spin off of that spent mothership. It's too bad, then, about Be Your Own Pet, the bratty, brash Nashville quartet that led Thurston Moore's label, Ecstatic Peace, into major-label mode. BYOP called it quits in 2008, which left the rhythm section's great side project, Turbo Fruits, a chance to make its effortless, aggressive jangle a full-time thing. But then there's the solo career of Jemina Pearl, whose youthful defiance sounds as though it's grown from smart, snappy rhetoric to a crutch for the unadventurous. More tunes about unsophisticated misanthropy and boorish drug trips, set to flimsy hooks we wish stuck around longer than a tantrum? When do Turbo Fruits come back to town? With The Ettes. $10/ 9:30 p.m. —Grayson Currin
Thursday, Jan. 7-Saturday, Jan. 9
From: London via New York
Since: 1965 (or 1990)
Claim to fame: Maybe the first band that convinced you some musicians do lots of drugs?
Re-creating Dark Side of the Moon on Friday and The Wall on Saturday (plus an assortment of other dank jams each night), The Machine mimics the experience of seeing Pink Floyd perform those classic albums in person, rather than getting stoned and listening to them in some dude's basement again—or while attempting to synch them up to a lion's roar. Their chops are on point, but is it worth ponying up the dough for a rather inanimate band accompanied by cheesy visuals that make your blacklight poster collection seem trippy by comparison? What would Clark Howard do? At LINCOLN THEATRE Friday and Saturday. $14-$17 for single night or $25 for both/ 9 p.m.
From: Liverpool via Athens, Ga.
Since: 1960 (or 2001)
Claim to fame: Maybe the first band to make you think some musicians might dabble with drugs?
Abbey Road adds a bit of a wrinkle to the typical tribute act story, specializing in performing selections from The Beatles, post-1966. The Liverpool lads never toured behind their last half-dozen albums, thus the core quartet of Abbey Road—often, as is the case here, with the assistance of the Magical Mystery Horns and the Lonely Hearts Strings—are imagining this lushly orchestrated age of The Beatles in the live setting for the first time. They ditch the kitsch of wigs and costumes in favor of focusing on the music, so you'll have to close your eyes to keep up the illusion that it's actually the late '60s up there. At CAT'S CRADLE Saturday only. $12-15/ 9:30 p.m.
From: The ashes of Kings' Great Cover-Up
Claim to fame: First year turned doubters into believers
Tir Na Nog's revival of the Great Cover-Up drew the ire of those loyal to the Kings last year, though to little consequence: Crowds still packed the Irish pub to see a handful of local acts make unannounced swipes at the big names. Half the fun is in the surprise of who each band picks to portray. Valient Thorr's take on Funkadelic, for instance, proved the event's unpredictable flair. Night 1 kicks off with a slate of Undercover newcomers: Lonnie Walker and Free Electric State are the most intriguing, while lesser-knowns River City Ransom and Here Are The Young Men round out the bill. Friday provides the strongest top-to-bottom lineup, with heavyweight vets American Aquarium, The Old Ceremony and The Dry Heathens slotted alongside younger crews Aminal, The Tomahawks and Bright Young Things—who were dead-on as Oasis in 2009. Left Outlet's theatric portrayal of Queen was a highlight of last year's event, and fellow veterans Static Minds, The Whalewatchers and Hearts and Daggers join them along with The Dirty Little Heaters and Meltzer-Hart on Saturday. The bargain cover for this once-in-a-lifetime (hint, hint) event benefits Hopeline, Inc. and Duke University's Preston Robert Tisch Brain Tumor Center via CyTunes, so there's no excuse to not drop in for a night or two. At TIR NA NOG Thursday through Saturday. $5 nightly/ 9 p.m. —Spencer Griffith
01.07 SIMEON @ BROAD STREET CAFE
The music Simeon makes might be the product of the decades guitarist Simeon Berkley and bassist Robbie Breitweiser have spent playing music together. But the resulting sound of the band named after Berkley doesn't feel as polished as a lifetime of rock tumbling might suggest. The quartet—which also includes guitarist Josh Rose (ex-Mossad) and Evil Wiener drummer Groves Willer—keeps the edges of its at-home-in-the-'90s alt-rock pleasantly rough. Berkley and Rose's guitar tones gather a touch of loose, psychedelic flange here, grainy punk rock distortion there. Willer and Breitwesier ply staple rhythms.
And indeed, Simeon's extension of the Archers of Loaf/ Pavement template is differentiated mostly by the band's sense of spontaneity. It's not an off-the-rails, volatile sense of danger and urgency, but more a feeling that the songs are always reforming and developing, as if the decades of collaboration at the core of Simeon show less in a refined focus on a theme and more in an ease and familiarity with organic interplay and extemporaneous evolution. Bookending the show, jazz duo Workbook opens, while Malt Swagger closes. 8 p.m. —Bryan Reed