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The guide to the week's concerts 

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This week's guide contains:

YES, PLEASE: Aminal, The Dry Heathens, Colossus, Ryan Gustafson, Max Indian, Light Pines, Duncan Webster, Veelee, The Urban Sophisticates, The Physics of Meaning, Butterflies, The Silent League

EH, WHATEVER: Those Darlins, Citizen Cope

VS.: Justin Townes Earle vs. Blue Dogs

INTRODUCING: Cool Kid Collective



Aminal's allure is built on finesse. Songs sidle along understated, their encroaching melodies trailing echoing vocals soaked in coy cool. The arrangements possess a lean minimalism and unhurried gait, more late-night suggestive than dreamy or atmospheric. It's about enticing and slowly beguiling vistas, not pulse-charging blitzes. Dry Heathens are the spice to that sugar: Unabashedly extroverted as a band, they're unafraid to buttonhole you with a sugar rush of distortion-drenched hooks or kneecap your senses with chunky throttle. The V-8 rhythms and guitar crunch recall the late '80s alt-rock heyday, from the no-nonsense propulsion of the Buzzcocks to the infectious throb of Hüsker Dü. $5/ 10 p.m. —Chris Parker

01.28 COLOSSUS @ LOCAL 506

Don't let what may seem like campy British Heavy Metal send-ups catch you off guard: Colossus is armed with serious riffage. Sure, the lyrics abound with more fantasy references and mythology than the floor of Comic-Con, but fist-pumping, howl-along refrains like "Kill more, better!" match the menace of the sextet's bloodthirsty rhythm section. The pair of openers makes this a headbanger's variety night, too. Like the scream-to-growl range of singer Cody Heckle, the reckless rhythms of raw Durham thrashers Zardoz are all over the place, thanks to Rick Moras' calamitous drum battery. Morose Vitality's chaotic death metal puts the pedal to the floor and doesn't let up, blasting through technically minded shredding with screeching riffs and guttural vocals. $5/ 10 p.m. —Spencer Griffith


After Chapel Hill bandleader Ryan Gustafson rolled in for one of Tir Na Nog's popular free Thursday night shows, Chris Tamplin, who tends bar and books the bands at the Raleigh Irish restaurant, said he had seen "the future of Triangle music last night." Though a bit too reminiscent of one New Jersey Boss' manager, and a bit negligent relative to other bands in the area, Tamplin is on to something: Gustafson and the ragtag collective of Beatles, Browne and Byrds lovers with which he rolls, dubbed Drughorse, serve old sounds with a fresh feel. Tonight, Gustafson joins two of the crew's other top emissaries—the sweet hooks and pocket-blessed rhythms of Max Indian and the dramatic charge of Light Pines. Free/ 9 p.m. —Grayson Currin


A rare solo gig—minus the rest of Hammer No More The Fingers, the Durham power trio that Duncan Webster has captained in some form since he was in grade school—puts the spotlight firmly on Webster's quirky songwriting. Good thing, too, since those tunes deliver more hooks than a heavyweight title bout. Chapel Hill couple Veelee are the Triangle's newest indie pop darlings, dishing out short complicated gems with cool detachment, chiming guitars and coed vocal delivery. Baltimore combo Gary B and the Notions share Hammer's slightly askew pop view, mingling it with sunny melodies and snappy progressions. Fourth band Imperial China veers wildly along Polvo's mathy D.C. trails, with hints of dub and acid rock seeping like strays into the trio's textural, electronically embellished post-punk charge. $5/ 10 p.m. —Spencer Griffith


Not since the days of the hip-hop band Sankofa has Triangle hip-hop swayed toward the craze of live bands so much. During the last two years, in fact, it seems as if finding a live band has been easier than an emcee moving to the "two turntables and a microphone" tradition. Rather, groups like The Urban Sophisticates and Inflowential have a musical restoration complex on their agenda, and when hip-hop is concerned, this twist certainly enhances the genre. Even Chapel Hill's veteran emcee KAZE has seen its wonders, and has chosen to rock that way lately. Those three, along with Durham's The Beast, all get together for this jam session of verses and virtuosity. $6-$8/ 9:30 p.m. —Eric Tullis

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Though they share a label in Chapel Hill's Trekky Records, Daniel Hart's Physics of Meaning and Josh Kimbrough's Butterflies couldn't be much more different as this whole indie rock thing goes. As the names might suggest, Physics of Meaning aims for grand, sweeping statements, delivered through chamber music pomposity and AOR bombast. Excepting Hart's earnest vocals, there's very little about his baroque pop music that offers understatement. Conversely, Butterflies rely on small moments and spare arrangements. Kimbrough's range—both vocally and instrumentally—doesn't match that of the classically trained violinist Hart, but it doesn't have to: He's at his best when he's singing for the living room crowd. Hart's at his best when he's singing for the gods. $5/ 9:30 p.m. —Bryan Reed

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But You've Always Been the Caretaker, the third album by big Brooklyn band The Silent League, cashes in triumphantly on that "symphonic pop" term cast around so loosely for Sufjan Stevens and his ilk several years ago. Like The Flaming Lips with a steadfast vision, or The Polyphonic Spree with an arranger who understands that space is as important as swells, The Silent League's majestic, smiling-through-sad-eyes music is both rapture and deliverance. Its hooks drag listeners high into a retro-futuristic dreamworld where things like double-disc albums (which Caretaker is) with smart, deliberate ideas (which Caretaker has) wind through like thread. This is the beginning of a new series at Local 506 of gigs with a small PA and a low cover. Wild Wild Geese open. $3/ 10 p.m. —Grayson Currin


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Whatever marketing and management team failed last year to make stars of Those Darlins—the trio of attractive, tattooed and vintage-clothed Murfreesboro, Tenn., women singing country-punk tunes about driving drunk and suggesting sex—needs to consider a career change. They're a walking advertisement for rural hip, yet they're still playing small rock clubs. Actually, maybe credit is simply due to listeners who want more: The Darlins sport a rough-and-rowdy image, but their songs hinge on double entendre that must have been stale by the time the ERA failed and writing that forgoes wit and wisdom for cheap humor and tawdry sentimentality. "Punks straight out of London or Cleveland, 1977," claims the band's bio. Yeah, if punks had constricted their feelings as with a corset. Alabama openers Pine Hall Haints, a K Records band that mix all kinds of Americana, have about as much edge as an issue of Paste. Violet Vector and the Lovely Lovelies open. $7-$8/ 9 p.m. —Grayson Currin


Though he's got the scruffy profile of a Southern rocker, Clarence Greenwood's hair—pulled back into a back-of-the-head bun—tells you most of what you need to know about this adult contemporary pap-rock. His breathy, laid-back faux-soul delivery recalls Ben Harper and Jason Mraz, though the songs shuffle and meander enough for the Hacky Sack crowd. At his best, he's a poor man's G. Love, lacking the clever wordplay and ballast in his hip-swing. At his worst, though, he makes Jack Johnson sound funky as cold medina, working rhymes trite enough to make Vanilla Ice hot while bossing grooves with less bite than Polident user Martha Raye. $22-$25, $40 for both shows (whoops!) / 9 p.m. —Chris Parker


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From: Nashville, Tenn.

Since: Late '90s

Claim to fame: Continuing the Earle legacy with an Americana style and retro-minded bent

The 28-year-old Earle has heavyweight promise written into his DNA. Like his middle-namesake, he recognizes the power of keenly sketched desperation, loneliness and wanderlust. The title track of his Midnight at the Movies is a fine example, imagining a lover who arrives late at the features to see someone else and leaves before the credits. Earle's somber baritone comes shrouded in antiquated fancies like bolo ties, ragtime swing and tart moonshine twang, while his Replacements cover confirms he's not tone-deaf to the contemporary, bridging the distance with assurance and chops that grow more imposing with each passing year. With Dawn Landes. At THE ARTSCENTER. $14-$16/ 8:30 p.m.


click to enlarge Blue Dogs
  • Blue Dogs


From: Charleston, S.C.

Since: 1987

Claim to fame: Rootsy Southern rock that incorporates bluegrass, country and jam elements

If the Blue Dogs were going to be chart-toppers, it would've happened by now. But like a journeyman fighter whose gloves will never be bronzed and who will never wear the golden belt, that hardly diminishes their mastery or ability to put on a show. These Dogs are what they are, comfortable in an array of rustic styles, most delivered with a strong backbeat and a loose-limbed, mug-raising attitude. While their nostalgic "Picture Show" might not match the poignancy of Earle's "Mama's Eyes," they're a lot more likely to find themselves at the party's center, cheering it on. A few years on, Earle might kick these Dogs to the curb, but for now their experience and indomitable spirit wins. With Old Habits. At BERKELEY CAFE. $12-$15/ 9 p.m. —Chris Parker


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It wouldn't be surprising if some Triangle frat kid is at this very moment hungover from a few days of brew-binging, beer-ponging and fist-bumping, blasting Cool Kid Collective out of his Skullcandy headphones and praising CKC as a "best kept secret." And more power to him—that's where all cool trends begin, right? Either way, it just goes to show how much fun and appeal one can have when not trapped by the confines of a certain sound and just exploring the urge to vibe, bro. The N.C.-based CKC is just that—a jacked-up jukebox of preppy pleading, all anchored to storytelling by three guys whose previous stints with other bands led them to this singular destination of sand-jam.  Imagine Pete Wentz moving to the beach, writing sing-along music and forming a band with two pothead surfers who really dig Doug E. Fresh. West Coast label Dirtbag Records recently signed the trio to a record deal based largely on the success of CKC's seven-song debut, Bad Decisions Good Stories, which they'll be pulling from for their upcoming four-month tour along the East Coast.  Beat boxing, congas and an acoustic guitar—or kegs and kegs of Emo Lite. 9 p.m. —Eric Tullis

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