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The guide to the week's concerts 



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This week's guide contains:

YES, PLEASE: The Tomahawks, Wood Ear, Ben Davis, Filthybird, Willie Neal Heath, John Howie Jr., Lonnie Walker, The Moaners, Jucifer, Sierra Hull & Highway 111, David Olney, The Old Ceremony, Dex Romweber Duo, Redress Raleigh Benefit, Cantell Gomez & Jordan, Grappling Hook

VS.: Movits! vs. Blair Crimmins & The Hookers

VS.: Liturgy vs. Korpiklaani, Tyr



YES, PLEASE...

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01.14 THE TOMAHAWKS @ NIGHTLIGHT

Members of local supergroup The Tomahawks come from the circle of bands associated with Chapel Hill's Drughorse, an incestuous pool of immense talent. Nick Jaeger (of Max Indian, Luego, etc.) splits songwriting duties with Jeff Crawford (of both the previous bands and seemingly a dozen more), perpetuating the Drughorse collective's loose, off-the-cuff spirit and warm retro vibe. Keyboard ace Charles Cleaver (Luego, Tripp, Firehouse Rhythm Kings) fleshes out the arrangements alongside Bright Young Things' Cameron Lee and Matt Damron. Visiting D.C. quartet Bellman Barker offers indie pop that runs the gamut from gentle jangles to jagged, rock-injected bounces, while the tunes of Texas transplant and troubadour Dylan Sneed wed pop affection and a sense of folk authenticity. $5/ 9:30 p.m. —Spencer Griffith

click to enlarge Ben Davis
  • Ben Davis

01.14 WOOD EAR, BEN DAVIS, FILTHYBIRD @ THE PINHOOK

If Teen Dream, the new record by Baltimore duo Beach House, has nabbed your fancy, you should hear two recent demos from Greensboro quartet Filthybird: More lyrically lucid and telling than most Beach House moments, "Gravity" and "Portraits" suggest that, in the two years since its excellent debut, Filthybird has both embraced structural risk and begun to exploit fully the beautiful voice of Renee Mendoza. She seems to be increasingly in charge of it, and it of the band. Like Filthybird, Wood Ear has been absent from local stages for too long. The band released a stunning EP that suggested Jay Farrar delirious from a shot of urgency, and disappeared. No such problem for Ben Davis & the Jetts: Charge It Up, the latest and maybe best shot of glinting, dense post-punk from the former Milemarker member, was released in November. $5/ 9 p.m. —Grayson Currin

01.14 WILLIE NEAL HEATH, JOHN HOWIE JR. @ THE CAVE

With a big, gravelly baritone, Nashville's Willie Neal Heath sounds like a train burning its last coal. Whether barreling ahead and shooting sparks or sputtering to a stop, his long drawl reflects hard traveling. It's rockabilly with rough edges, dirt-crusted country and outlaw all the way through. On "Out of Highway," Heath sings, "I'm a little bit older now, I'm a little run down." The wear, though, is delightful. Donning a little more spit polish and soul, John Howie Jr. and the Sweethearts open. $5/ 10 p.m. —Andrew Ritchey

01.15 LONNIE WALKER, THE MOANERS @ THE PINHOOK

Make room in your memory for Raleigh five-piece Lonnie Walker. The band's peculiar breed of Pacific Northwest indie and nervous country-rock, bright-or-bleary-eyed, wary but enthusiastic poetry comes flying out in gangly verses and wobbly choruses. Their debut, These Times Old Times, was an energetic start, full of bright ideas if short on editing or oversight. They're tightening the approach, though, shaping all those thoughts and themes into irresistible pop songs. Their new EP, due as early as March, will hit you right between the ears. Meanwhile, Melissa Swingle and Laura King, or The Moaners, treat rock 'n' roll like a bulldog treats a new toy, dragging it around the yard, howling and growling and kicking up a mighty dust. Holidays for Quince labelmate Liza Kate opens with her moody, steadfast songs. $5/ 10 p.m. —Grayson Currin

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01.15 JUCIFER @ VOLUME 11 TAVERN

I don't know much about the state of the van that the married heavy-metal two-piece Jucifer tours in, but I do know that guitarist/vocal macerator Amber Valentine and drummer Edgar Livengood essentially live in it. They gave up their Athens residence to tour and record, and they continue to do both at a shocking volume and pace. But it's a safe bet that in spite of the perspiration or food wrappers that might crowd the vehicle, Jucifer's metal—a venomous mix of the doom, stoner and classic variety, with a bit of folk music mixed in for Southern measure—is dirtier. When Valentine howls, it seems the microphone could shatter, while her guitar amps seem as if they'll rattle out of their own wooden cages at any moment. Decent enough on record, Jucifer on a stage is something to witness again and again. Also, Irata, Colossus, Husky and The Daegoba System. $10/ 8 p.m. —Grayson Currin

click to enlarge David Olney - PHOTO BY JOHN HALPERN
  • Photo by John Halpern
  • David Olney

01.15 SIERRA HULL & HIGHWAY 111, DAVID OLNEY @ BERKELEY CAFE

With her versatility and poise already impressing crowds from Merlefest to the Grand Ole Opry to Carnegie Hall, teenage bluegrasser Sierra Hull, mandolin in hand, is poised for the same level of success as her mentor, Alison Krauss. David Olney, on the other hand, isn't a teenager. But for those of us for whom years are flying by like a bullet train, it seems like just yesterday that a young Olney was fronting his Nashville band, The X-Rays. These days, Olney is the proverbial songwriter's songwriter, as evidenced by the roots music Who's Who (from Del McCoury to Emmylou Harris) that's dipped into his deep catalog. $15/ 9 p.m. —Rick Cornell

01.15 THE OLD CEREMONY, DEX ROMWEBER DUO @ CAT'S CRADLE

The Old Ceremony meets the older guard Friday, as Django Haskins and his band of indie pop aesthetes follow the Dex Romweber Duo. Pairing audacious arrangements with murky, affecting lyrics, The Old Ceremony balances glimmering rock and moody soul. Joining them in the nightscape, hometown brethren Dex and Sara Romweber tap into the darker, ghostly annals of the American music underground. Conjuring some unholy mix of subterranean, frazzled rockabilly/ punk/ folk, the sibling duo (now sporting a new 45" on Jack White's Third Man Label) play tonight, but Dex goes solo at The Cave on Tuesday. $10 / 8:30 p.m. —Ashley Melzer

01.15 REDRESS RALEIGH BENEFIT @ THE POUR HOUSE

This benefit for the green-fashion and ecological awareness outfit Redress Raleigh brings together Inflowential, Violet Vector and the Lovely Lovelies, Lake Inferior and FTB Soundsystem—an unlikely grouping, for sure. And, suggestive of the eco-fashion, the show's marquee threesome recycle old templates to tender something of their own: Inflowential's head-nodding bounce and two-MC flow matches The Roots' live sensibilities and can't-miss beatboxing, while Violet Vector & The Lovely Lovelies manage to nod toward K Records twee and riot grrrl with sticky-sweet paisley pop. Lake Inferior pulls from the trending indie catalog with a sound that draws from Animal Collective's aqueous synth burbles, Vampire Weekend's adopted polyrhythm and Radiohead's ambiguity. $8/ 9 p.m. —Bryan Reed

01.16 CANTWELL, GOMEZ & JORDAN, GRAPPLING HOOK @ THE PINHOOK

Like sweet and sour, the juxtaposition of Cantwell, Gomez & Jordan with Grappling Hook is an intriguing one, putting disparate brands of tenacity together in a room. Indeed, both bands comprise veterans of the area's art-rock scene, but where CGJ has long been the Triangle's standard-bearer for math-punk and no-wave skronk, Grappling Hook—led by the formerly known-as-Torch Marauder Dave Bjorkback—trades harsh angularity for power metal pomposity. If this were a comic book, Grappling Hook would be the grandstanding superman, CGJ the sly and genius nemesis, and their inability to best each others' powers would drive a storyline into eternity. Alas, this is Grappling Hook's last show. Clawform—the one-man black metal vehicle of Durham's Colin Booy, his drum machine and his banjo—opens. 10 p.m. —Bryan Reed


SATURDAY, JAN. 16

MOVITS!

Since: 2007

From: Sweden

Claim to fame: Combining gypsy swing with rap vocals, like a jazzier gangsta Gogol Bordello

Anyone wondering if Comedy Central's actually a socialist enterprise need look no further than their sole noncomedian release, by these bespectacled Swedes. Since most lyrics (aside from plentiful pop culture references like James Dean, "sucker MCs" and James Brown) are in their native tongue, it's impossible to know if they're actually agitating for a better social safety net and single-payer health care. What's certain is American hip-hop artists should be embarrassed for getting beat to these punches: Sure, we've swiped from the Godfather of Soul and Miles Davis, but why not go further back to Cab Calloway and Benny Goodman? The energetic stuff from Movits! moves with an admirable pluck, creatively interwoven vocals and bristling energy. At LOCAL 506. $8-$10/ 9:30 p.m.

VS.

BLAIR CRIMMINS & THE HOOKERS

Since: 2008

From: Atlanta

Claim to fame: Reimagining the Squirrel Nut Zippers with Ben Folds instead of Jimbo Mathus

Standing up to these carpetbagging cultural imperialists are our own homegrown, jazzy, big-band-biting zoot suiters. Multi-instrumentalist Crimmins keys the proceedings, alternating between piano-driven torch ballads and banjo-fueled skiffle, backed by horns and cymbal rattles. Many of the Hookers' tracks command a strutting late-night cabaret swing, though Crimmins' reedy tenor lacks the smokiness to inspire true menace. Indeed, Crimmins' vocals possess collegial warmth that's more tourist trap than hoary haunt, more tavern than speakeasy. Sorry boys, but it's Movits! At THE CAVE. 10 p.m. —Chris Parker


SUNDAY, JAN. 17

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LITURGY

From: New York

Since: 2006

Claim to fame: Bringing U.S. Black Metal to the New Yorker Festival

New York black metal quartet Liturgy cites philosophers and theologians in interviews and lists just intonation-favoring minimalists like La Monte Young and Rhys Chatham as influences (after all, the father of Liturgy guitarist Bernard Gann, music critic Kyle Gann, wrote one of the most readable guides to the tuning system). And their glorious debut LP, Renihilation, is lined with high-minded touches—throat-singing interludes, a melody-stretching-and-shortening guitar instrumental, scorching moments of wasteland drone. But don't be put off by the brains: When Liturgy's deadlocked in one of its five-minute metal bursts, the drums splashing like boulders against relentless whirlpools of guitar, they're as threatening as night terrors. Renihiliation is one of last year's best metal efforts, so it's surprising to see the band still stuck in such a small space. With Here Lies at SLIM'S. $5/ 10 p.m.

VS.

click to enlarge Korpiklaani
  • Korpiklaani

KORPIKLAANI, TYR

From: Finland, Faroe Islands

Since: 2003, 1998

Claim to fame: Leaders in that awkward field of Scandinavian folk metal

Perhaps there should be a surgeon general's warning for deriding large, grizzled Scandinavian men—often wearing chain mail, brandishing swords and holding drinking horns, at least in promotional photos—and their music. After all, mixing the music of one's ancestors with the menace of metal seems like a starting point for some heated nationalistic conficts. But here goes: The folk metal of Tyr (rudimentary, sing-songy, top-heavy and clumsy) tells of the ancients, while that of Korpiklaani adds traditional instruments to the mix and little else. It's more like Kiss-Lite with a history degree than Amon Amarth with a diversity clause. Los Angeles' White Wizzard lets the legacies of Iron Maiden and Judas Priest run the train on their classic metal. Also, Swashbuckle and Volsung. Liturgy wins by a landslide. At VOLUME 11 TAVERN. $20/ 6 p.m. —Grayson Currin

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