This week's guide contains:
YES, PLEASE: Haiti Relief Benefit, Neil Hamburger, Retribution Gospel Choir, Caltrop, Hog, Cold Cave, Galactic, Marco Benevento Trio
VS.: Tab Benoit vs. Chuck Brodsky & Angela Easterling
VS.: Jonathan Richman vs. Steve Winwood
SONG OF THE WEEK: Retribution Gospel Choir's "Hide It Away"
02.04 HAITI RELIEF BENEFIT @ THE POUR HOUSE
Superstars from George Clooney and Jay-Z to Wyclef Jean and Radiohead have donated time to high-profile fundraising concerts for Haiti, but doing good isn't limited to celebrities, of course. Over half a dozen local acts take the stage tonight to aid relief efforts in Haiti. Chatham County Line, A Rooster for the Masses and Filthybird stand at the top of the bill. Chatham County Line plays consistently smooth bluegrass with an alt-country attitude, while electric guitars serve as attack dogs for the pulsing rock of A Rooster for the Masses. Leading Filthybird, Renee Mendoza leads from behind the organ, singing like a rootsy, psychedelic chanteuse. Strains of bluegrass, indie rock, country and folk rise and fall in varying degrees earlier in the evening with The Hotwires, Roger Gupton, The Debonzo Brothers and Andy Bilinski. Tunes start at 6:45 p.m. and go past midnight. The show has a $12 suggested donation, and proceeds will go to the Red Cross. —Andrew Ritchey
2.04 NEIL HAMBURGER @ LOCAL 506
On Neil Hamburger's first album, he enlists the audience to make some noise for the live recording. This desperate attempt for affection backfires when one guy storms the stage, snatches the mic from Hamburger's hand and yells, "Metallica!" Hamburger's defiantly downtrodden character reflects comedy's unglamorous past—from the Catskills circuit to casino charlatans. In style and delivery, he would have fit right in as an accidental opener for Elvis' jumpsuit comeback, but he gets it. Think Andy Kaufman territory where the joke isn't necessarily what's coming out of the comic's mouth. The band Daiquiri opens. $8-$10/ 9:30 p.m. —Chris Toenes
02.05 RETRIBUTION GOSPEL CHOIR @ LOCAL 506
Retribution Gospel Choir is the power trio of Alan Sparhawk, a prolific Duluth, Minn., musician best known for his solemn songs in Low. He's good with band names, too: Just as Low's handle portends the quiet intensity of that band's acoustic melancholy, Retribution Gospel Choir is a fiery, intense chariot, led by Sparhawk's swollen amplifier tone and a voice that sings always of scathing. The trio's second album, and first for Sub Pop, simply titled 2, is more than maul and menace. Sure, "Hide it Away" and "Your Bird" are charging ballast-breakers, but RGC suggests the surprisingly spry pop of Supergrass on "Working Hard" and the psychedelic sizzle of My Morning Jacket on "Electric Guitar." RGC's not the sort of revelation Low was, but it's well-executed, well-crafted, well-considered rock, and, well, that's a pretty rarified combination. With Free Electric State and Rat Jackson. $8/ 9:30 p.m. —Grayson Currin
02.06 CALTROP, HOG @ DUKE COFFEEHOUSE
A three-pronged fork of hefty metal, this bill might wreak glorious havoc upon its collegiate hosts. Caltrop's viscous grooves run like magma, moving dense material with surprising fluidity. The band's appropriately titled debut, World Class, did a sufficient job capturing Caltrop's mix of grace and power, but live, the band's mix of heavy blues, prog finesse and psychedelic rock expands and consumes. HOG picks up where the mighty Tooth left off, paring the lineup into a leaner, more agile but no-less-menacing metal machine. Death Came Down the Mountain opens. $5/ 9 p.m. —Bryan Reed
02.07 COLD CAVE @ LOCAL 506
There's a danceable beat, a moping lead singer, and little keyboard lines that practically hum themselves. Some new New Order, right? Well, to an extent, but the gaunt, dark dance music of New England's Cold Cave adds a scrim of distortion and a shot of mystery to that English electro legacy. After all, the band—the once-solo project of former hardcore kid Wesley Eisold—includes one of America's best noise artists, Dominick Fernow, who records alone as Prurient. The promising young drone artist Sarah Lipstate is a former member. These sounds are never quite what you expect, then, from the noise floating through the mutated keyboard bleeps to the way the coed vocals (courtesy of Eisold and former Xiu Xiu member Caralee McElroy) seem bent ever so slightly. And the mystery? "I buried seeded lies and so the trees grew emotions and died/ and now you can't breathe/ goodbye," goes one of the most intriguing and enigmatic bits of Cold Cave's debut LP, Love Comes Close. Nite Jewel, whose mid-tempo disco seems to gurgle up from unknown depths, opens. $8-$10/ 10 p.m. —Grayson Currin
02.09 GALACTIC @ LINCOLN THEATRE
Gradually developing from a gang of funksters rooted in jazz into a more progressive, urban-and-jam-influenced ensemble, Galactic featured a slew of underground MCs to predictably hit-or-miss ends on its last outing. The Crescent City quintet took a step back to its roots for the new Ya-Ka-May, collaborating with N'awlins institutions like Allen Toussaint, the Rebirth Brass Band and Irma Thomas. They've brought percussionist Cyril Neville and trombonist Corey Henry of Rebirth along on tour to help breathe life into these songs. Horn-abetted Austin big band T Bird and the Breaks open, flexing mighty funk grooves and flashing soulful pipes from a three-piece vocal section. $20-25/ 8:30 p.m. —Spencer Griffith
02.10 MARCO BENEVENTO TRIO @ DUKE COFFEEHOUSE
If, like me, you've sometimes liked the idea of The Bad Plus—that is, premier players with combined interests and backgrounds in jazz, rock, classical and electronic music who mix originals with popular instrumental covers—more than the occasionally campy or severely restrained execution, Marco Benevento Trio might do the trick. Like Benevento's better known duo with drummer Joe Russo, MBT gives itself over to bombast, erupting from stately statements of melody and mode into parts that sizzle like post-rock. And their choice of material to interpret—My Morning Jacket's "Golden," The Knife's "Heartbeats," Leonard Cohen's "Seems So Long Ago, Nancy"—bears a bit more edge and room to explore divergent compositional approaches. $10/ 9 p.m. —Grayson Currin
SATURDAY, FEB. 6
From: Baton Rouge, La.
Claim to fame: Blues forms that wander
Blues and bayou—that's where to start with Tab Benoit. But pinning him down as only one kind of guitarist or singer is shortsighted. Yeah, his musical roots are in the blues, and, more specifically, the Blues Box, a Baton Rouge club where he listened to and eventually jammed alongside the most hardcore of blues players. But his Louisiana roots are in the bayou, and Benoit honors them with side helpings of Cajun rock 'n' roll, swamp pop, and Southern soul, plus nods to everybody from Professor Longhair to Lil Bob & the Lollipops (of "I Got Loaded" fame). Mel Melton & the Wicked Mojos open. At the LINCOLN THEATRE. $14-$24/ 9 p.m.
CHUCK BRODSKY & ANGELA EASTERLING
From: Asheville, N.C., and upstate S.C.
Since: Mid-'90s and mid-'00s
Claim to fame: Story songs that stick
Baseball and blacktop—that's where to start with Chuck Brodsky and Angela Easterling. Yeah, Brodsky's tales aren't confined to the diamond, but that's the space where his songs take flight like a Frank Howard long ball. Tunes about Eddie Klepp and Moe Berg have nudged those players from the fringe and made Brodsky literally a Hall of Fame writer. "Blacktop Road," the title track from Angela Easterling's '09 release, honors the family farm while detailing its struggles against that interloper progress. The present imposing its will on the past is a theme that informs much of Easterling's writing, and there's also a lot of past-meets-present in her sound. At the SIX STRING CAFE. $10/ 8 p.m. —Rick Cornell
TUESDAY, FEB. 9
From: San Francisco by way of Boston
Claim to fame: Going faster miles an hour
Much has happened in the 38 years since its recording. Still, the defining Jonathan Richman moment for me will always be "Roadrunner," a triumph of primal joy and rudimentary rock 'n' roll that he created in 1972 with the Modern Lovers. The years that followed have brought many solo records and have piled up many miles, with every note (be it jazzy or country-inflected or post-post-proto-punk) and every trip seeming to come from a place of wonder. And that feels like the same spot I found myself in when I went for that first drive with Richman, under the modern moonlight, radio on. At CAT'S CRADLE. $10-$12/ 9 p.m.
From: Southwest England by way of Birmingham
Claim to fame: Requesting some lovin'
Much has happened in the 43 years since its recording. Still, the defining Steve Winwood moment for me will always be "Gimme Some Lovin'," a triumph of Brit-eyed soul that he voiced and co-wrote in 1967 as the keyboardist in The Spencer Davis Group, an outfit he joined at 16. The years that followed have found Winwood as group/ supergroup member (Traffic, Blind Faith), session man (know anyone else who recorded with Toots & the Maytals and Howlin' Wolf?) and solo superstar (playing all instruments on Arc of a Diver and Talking Back to the Night). But it all goes back to crazy people rocking. At the DURHAM PERFORMING ARTS CENTER. $39.50-$65.50/8 p.m. —Rick Cornell
2.6 NAPS @ THE BREWERY
It bears mentioning that the new Raleigh band NAPS features members of Annuals and Lonnie Walker (drummer Zach Oden and guitarist Brian Corum, respectively). But noting that half of this band also plays in those bands isn't particularly helpful in delineating NAPS' actual sound, which is like neither of those other acts. Annuals play textured indie rock, borrowing cues from post-rock, folk-pop and psych-rock. Lonnie Walker stomps the accelerator on verbose folk-rock, anchoring it to sharp indie rock impulses.
But NAPS plays a leaner, noisier and arguably weirder brand of indie rock. D-Mike Demo EP, the band's free five-song debut, finds success in fuzz-baked stumbles. "Beast in the Jungle" mines a static hum, detached vocals and dalliances with pure noise. "Good Time Are Killing" and "The Blast" offer more pop, coating a quiet twangy lament in lo-fi resonance and amp buzz, like Broken Social Scene's Jason Collett backed by Yo La Tengo. Cocooned in strips of pulsing noise, these downward-gazing songs mine charm in melancholy. 8 p.m. —Bryan Reed