This week's guide contains:
YES, PLEASE: Freebass 808, Mosadi Music, The Beast, Swaso, Iris Dement, Make, Tasha-Yar, The Independent's Best-Of Party, DTL, Shalini, Doug & Telisha Williams, Mandolin Orange, The Handsome Family, True Widow, Monsonia, Sage Francis
EH, WHATEVER: Silversun Pickups, Against Me!
INTRODUCING: Louder Moonlight
VS.: Dead Meadow vs. Grouper
06.17 FREEBASS 808, MOSADI MUSIC, THE BEAST, SWASO @ BROAD STREET CAFE
Don't make the same mistake as Broad Street Cafe and label this show Rock vs. Hip-Hop. It's less competition and more a convergence of several bubbling strains in the Triangle music scene. SWASO's "Sugarlicious" is both as flirtatious and rocketing as Freebass 808's new Jovi Rockwell-assisted "Rewind," while Mosadi Music's histrionic sensibilities are just as ceremonious as The Beast's plays on locution and location. Freebass 808's Suede Heron might be the vet who stands out from his Camp Lo days, but SWASO frontman Hugh Swaso is a beloved local showman who'll be expected to set the tone and raise energy of every other bandleader on the bill—Heron, Mosadi's Shirlette Ammons and The Beast's Pierce Freelon. $5/ 9:45 p.m. —Eric Tullis
06.18 IRIS DEMENT @ CAT'S CRADLE
She's no coal miner's daughter, but Iris Dement has definitely digested the lessons of Loretta Lynn, singing with a powerful, high lonesome voice informed by gospel. It's an evocative instrument that reaches back to another age. Dement burst onto the scene with 1992's raw, beautiful Infamous Angel, and My Life followed a year later. She surprised people with 1996's politically charged, rock-inflected The Way I Should, then disappeared, releasing only 2004's somber, religiously linked Lifeline in the intervening 15 years. Consequently, her appearances are valued like rare orchids, offering commensurate natural beauty and inspiring similar awe. $28–$30/ 8 p.m. —Chris Parker
06.18 MAKE, TASHA-YAR @ NIGHTLIGHT
There's a doom fan's buffet to be heard lurking in the sinewy slow-metal of Chapel Hill's MAKE. The rising quartet drapes chiming post-rock linens over meaty, lumbering bass riffs—like Red Sparowes flying over Earth. An ominous patience like Yob's and an ascendant momentum like Isis' serve only to make the bottom-diving abyss feel that much deeper. Tasha-Yar, which features former members of US Christmas, plays much lighter than MAKE. There's no black abyss in which to plummet, but there's a similarly deliberate meander and hypnotic sway in Tasha-Yar's Hawkwind haze. Noisy Virginia duo Buck Gooter opens. $5/10 p.m. —Bryan Reed
06.18 THE INDEPENDENT'S BEST-OF PARTY @ GOLDEN BELT
Celebrate the finest the Triangle has to offer with a must-see collection of emerging local talent: Lonnie Walker frontman Brian Corum's unrestrained bouts of lyricism race against the spirited gallop of his band's twisted roots-rock mess, while the tender, twang-touched harmonies of doe-eyed duo Birds and Arrows lie in a bed of soft. D-Town Brass' mighty pack of horns—supplemented by bass, vibes, marimba, keys and percussion—slink and swing on laid-back, loungy jazz tunes, while Embarrassing Fruits' youthful indie rock ardor recalls Chapel Hill's glory days. Free/ 6 p.m. —Spencer Griffith
06.18 DTL, SHALINI @ THE CAVE
Shalini comes together like a five-star Food Network recipe. Sweet-throated frontwoman Shalini Chatterjee's spent almost a quarter century in musical pursuits and, in concert with guitarist hubby Mitch Easter, they know their way around a song. Gleaming power pop hooks, rugged arena rock in the vein of Cheap Trick, warm, shimmering atmospheres and a dash of indie rock eccentricity coexist easily on their three albums. They sound significantly sweeter on stage. Hillsborough openers DTL is an odd pairing, since their bluesy rumble leans heavily on rugged, jam-tested grooves, not sharp hooks and supple grace. 10 p.m. —Chris Parker
06.18 DOUG & TELISHA WILLIAMS @ BERKELEY CAFE
Doug and Telisha Williams paint portraits of small-town America with their songs. The unemployed look to Walmart for jobs. Churchgoers are seduced by bars. The more adventurous try to run away. There's even a chilling ballad from the perspective of a murdered girl. The husband-wife duo makes simplified notions of small towns messier with each song. Broadly country tunes vary as much as their characters: defiant, exuberant, contemplative. Doug's acoustic and electric guitar playing pushes songs forward as Telisha slaps the upright bass. But it's Telisha's clear voice that tells the tales as much as the lyrics, delivering words with a world-weary twang. $10/ 7 p.m. —Andrew Ritchey
06.18 MANDOLIN ORANGE @ BYNUM GENERAL STORE
Andrew Marlin and Emily Frantz, the harmony-minded couple of Mandolin Orange, trade verses and instruments on the stripped-down country duets of their debut, Quiet Little Room. But it'll be the open sky and crowds of folding chairs they'll have to woo when they take the stage at the Bynum Front Porch Music Series. With songs as thick in Americana charms as Bynum itself, Marlin and Frantz should fare well. This is likely to be one of the most lackadaisically pleasant shows of the summer. $3–$7 suggested donation/ 7 p.m. —Ashley Melzer
06.19 THE HANDSOME FAMILY@ THE ARTSCENTER
Brett and Rennie Sparks hail from Albuquerque, N.M. Brett handles the low-blow vocals, and Rennie writes the captivating lyrics. On paper, that might sound good but not great, but the Sparkses spin their tales with care and detail like few others calling themselves country singers these days. By merging the old country ballads of lonesomeness and loss with vivid storytelling talent and a backdrop of American domesticity and alienation, The Handsome Family has created a wide-open songbook for themselves. Don't miss their return to the Triangle. $12/ 9 p.m. —Chris Toenes
06.19 TRUE WIDOW, MONSONIA @ NIGHTLIGHT
Nothing twee here, folks: Angst is alive and well. True Widow's eponymous record is a creepily casual monument to melancholy. This Dallas trio plays super-slow, down-tuned numbers steeped in darkness. Think low rock la Edgar Allan Poe, or In Utero's despondent older cousin. The music is so deliberate it drags its feet through heavy-lidded apathy. In "Sunday Driver," the lazy intonations of "I don't mind" communicate either the forlornness of functional depression or the daily mantra of a career stoner. Locals Monsonia bring something equally dark, yet much more raw, with Carter Browning's rough—and fiercely emotive—vocals. Also, Bad Dream. 10 p.m. —Corbie Hill
06.21 SAGE FRANCIS @ CAT'S CRADLE
The embattled and polarizing Providence emcee Sage Francis is a lightning rod, both for criticism of his earnest and emotionally charged raw hip-hop and for the adoration of those looking for a little explanation as to why the world can be so tough—and an explanation as to if it's that way for everyone. "The Best of Times," the most stunning track on his often brilliant, highly collaborative new LP, LI(F)E, is bound to be some kid's suicide cure. Triumphantly scored by film composer Yann Tiersen, "The Best of Times" is a frank, stomach-turning look at how having a crush can feel like failure and how, if life is never perfect, at least you still know you're alive. It's nice to see Francis back in top form, love him or hate him. $18–$20/ 9:30 p.m. —Grayson Currin
06.20 SILVERSUN PICKUPS, AGAINST ME! @ DISCO RODEO
Certainly there was a moment when Smashing Pumpkins seemed like a good idea, before Billy Corgan revealed himself to be a raging egomaniac thrashing in a cage of his own construction. Success corrupts as absolutely as power. Silversun Pickups hark back to those halcyon days before Melon Collie overwhelmed us with breathy, melodramatic speaking and crooning and alternately atmospheric and churning guitars. However, like any knockoff, for all the skill spent in replication, there's very little craftsmanship. All it offers is a pale memory of a feeling, its tasteful swirls of distortion and undulating dynamics little more than window dressing for an empty display case. Fitting, I suppose, since they're from Los Angeles. $29.50/ 7 p.m. —Chris Parker
06.18 LOUDER MOONLIGHT @ THE POUR HOUSE
I first saw Raleigh quartet Louder Moonlight play the last set of Deep South the Bar's most recent Battle of the Bands. They were one of two finalists, and they lost to SWASO, a Chapel Hill band with high energy and an even higher articulation of somewhat forgettable, funk-laced Southern rock. Of course Louder Moonlight didn't win: The band, a collection of service-industry guys and two truck drivers, sits somewhere between jagged mainstream '90s radio rock and the much more loose indie rock of the same decade. On scorecards, SWASO's professional precision trumped Louder Moonlight's slouchy indulgence.
But on stereos, Louder Moonlight warrants the notice. With two guitars that blur smart lines with fuzz and the drift of light reverb, and a rhythm section that's more concerned with movement than perfection, Louder Moonlight, who've only been playing since January, suggests a sundazed Wowee Zowee. They'll head into the studio for their first proper recordings in July. With Parmalee and Downfall. $10/ 10 p.m. —Grayson Currin
THURSDAY, JUNE 17
From: Washington, D.C.
Claim to fame: The semi-sweet leaf
This D.C. trio might have come of age during the days of Dischord, but the only straight edge the members of Dead Meadow have probably ever dealt with was on a Zig-Zag. Yes, these guys like their songs smoked in that shaggy, bloozy, lava-lamped fashion, and their collaborations with like-minded burnouts such as the Brian Jonestown Massacre and Wolfmother only back that stance up. Their sixth album, Three Kings, finds them continuing the work of their countless acid-washed forefathers, and if you're tuned in to that particular wavelength, then keep on truckin'. With Richard Bacchus & the Luckiest Girls and Static Minds. At LOCAL 506. $10–$12/ 9:30 p.m.
From: Portland, Ore.
Claim to fame: Absinthe and slow grace
For those looking for a psychedelic experience that's a little less "psychedelic, man," there's Liz Harris. As Grouper, Harris employs a Wurlitzer organ, some guitar strums, her soothing croon and a swamp of reverb to create haunting, enveloping soundscapes. It's appropriate to describe 2008's Dragging a Dead Deer Up a Hill as a collection of dreamy pop songs fighting through an armada of blankets, but the covers are so comforting that there's not much of a fight at all. Dead Meadow might kick out the jams, but Grouper's quiet storms make a soft killing. With Jenks Miller and Heather McEntire of Horseback. At NIGHTLIGHT. $7/ 9:30 p.m. —David Raposa