This week's guide contains:
YES, PLEASE: Menomena, Wesley Wolfe, Shit Horse, Killer Filler, Starmount, The Avett Brothers, Bowerbirds, Joe Pug & The Hundred Mile Band, Hugh Masekela, Wolvserpent
SHOWCASING: The Music Maker Relief Foundation Showcase
VS.: The Rocket Summer vs. Stephen Kellogg And The Sixers
10.07 MENOMENA @ CAT'S CRADLE
Mines, the first album from Portland trio Menomena in three years, reasserts their place as one of indie rock's most challenging but accessible acts. Never content with a straightforward structure, rhythm or melody, Menomena's music is a highly developed guide through the unexpected, making the bait and the switch synonymous. Meters flash forward and disappear; tones tease and escape; songs take shape, evaporate and reform, drama consistently ratcheted higher and higher. "Tithe," for instance, opens with a chorus of thumb pianos, slowly staggering against bells and radiant chords from a distant grand piano. Over the next four minutes, guitar, bass and drums claw and cut, the parts shooting past like disconnected fragments that have happily found one another. Indie pop is rarely this exploratory and energizing. Brooklyn's Suckers open with their hyper-convoluted, prog-lined pop, along with Corina Repp's new project, Tu Fawning. $12–$15/ 8:30 p.m. —Grayson Currin
10.07 WESLEY WOLFE, SHIT HORSE @ TIR NA NOG
Chapel Hill's Odessa Records might just be the Triangle's most diverse rock label, and this Local Band Local Beer showcase supports the argument. Headliner Wesley Wolfe combines a bleeding heart, bright melodic hooks and off-kilter arrangements with the skill of a New Pornographer. Far more down-and-dirty, Shit Horse delivers mangy psych rock with rabid intensity. As the band's murky riffs induce delirium, singer Danny Mason barks with the fever of James Brown. Less trashy but just as crazed, Wild Wild Geese match catchy, upbeat tunes with slacker guitar haze. The results approximate Built to Spill's tones, just set on Superchunk-style fun. Free/ 10 p.m. —Jordan Lawrence
10.08 KILLER FILLER, STARMOUNT @ THE CAVE
These two instrumental outfits offer nice contrast: Starmount makes moody, space-faring textural post-rock that gravitates toward epic, slow-burn numbers, shimmering dully like distant stars. The quartet is keyed by the pedal steel of Greg Elkins (Vanilla Trainwreck) and the hypnotic, vaguely prog synth of Rob Davis. Killer Filler follows like an adrenaline shot to the heart. Led by Chris Bess' funky organ fills, their crackling R&B showcases great finesse as it courses through surf, exotica, funk and Memphis soul. —Chris Parker
10.08 THE AVETT BROTHERS @ WALNUT CREEK
Grumbles about the decision of this Concord trio—by far, the state's most popular and, for the better part of a decade, most potent live band—to take their rock 'n' roll acoustic show to the area's biggest venue have been bountiful. Remember, though, that when the Brothers decided to leave their longtime indie home at Ramseur Records and head to Rick Rubin's American Recordings, the same set of so-called supporters "just knew" that the band's music would suffer. They'd water it down, get dull, sell out. Whoops: The band's answer was I and Love and You, a generous, warm expansion of both their sentimentality and energy. Their live shows have grown in measure, perfectly braced these days by dreamy ballads and nostalgia just as much as broken-string chaos. $41.50–$56.50/ 7 p.m. —Grayson Currin
10.09 BOWERBIRDS @ KINGS
Then a three-piece of guitar, accordion and casual percussion, Bowerbirds played one of their earliest shows in the basement of 14 West Martin St., in 2006 a space still called Alibi Bar. Against a far wall, Beth Tacular and Phil Moore offered songs that seemed both startled at the tumultuous world around them but satisfied in the comfort they'd found with one another. Now, more than four years later, they return to 14 West Martin St. for the first time, to play songs that still move with the same side-winding grace and thematic contrast at the reopened upstairs Kings. In the interim, they've toured the country and the world, stunned festivals with their smolder and released two excellent LPs on Dead Oceans, one of the best indie labels around. With Kid Future. 10 p.m. —Grayson Currin
10.09 JOE PUG & THE HUNDRED MILE BAND @ LOCAL 506
There are more musically adventurous songs in the catalog of former UNC-Chapel Hill student Joe Pug—"Speak Plainly, Diana" (which Pug has recorded twice), for instance, executes a series of sharp turns, leaving hooks instead of skid marks in its wake. But if there's one work that's cemented his reputation as a songwriter to watch and justified the Steve Earle comparisons—and supporting tour dates—it's "Bury Me Far (From My Uniform)." Sounding waist-deep in the muddy and fueled by Nebraska, Pug sings, "I'm not a cause, not a Christ, not a ransom/ I'm not a reason, I'm not a debate." It's a powerful indictment and an arrival announcement, too. $10/ 9:30 p.m.—Rick Cornell
10.11 HUGH MASEKELA @ MEMORIAL HALL
It's been more than four decades since versatile hornman Hugh Masekela rose to fame outside his South African homeland with "Grazing in the Grass"—a jazzy instrumental that garnered Masekela a Grammy nod and became an unlikely chart topper. He quickly became one of the most recognizable faces of African music in the western world, thanks to collaborations with Paul Simon and The Byrds, and deservedly so. Tonight, Masekela counters soulful bop and ballads with unbridled joy on impassioned, Afropop-infused numbers rich in both spirit and tradition. $10–$40/ 7:30 p.m. —Spencer Griffith
10.12 WOLVSERPENT @ NIGHTLIGHT
For the last five years, Boise, Idaho's Blake Green and Brittany McConnell have written and recorded ghastly, plodding and tormented doom under the name Pussygutt. That moniker might be easy to laugh at, but it's not exactly the easiest to take seriously. To coincide with the release of their latest and most excellent two-track, 40-minute LP, Blood Seed, Green and McConnell have taken the name Wolvserpent, a more fitting descriptor of their sharp, relentless metal smears. Blood Seed batters a series of riffs repeatedly, twisting tempos and textures around an electric guitar's slashes. Boston's Ehnahre joins Mountains Named for Murderers and regional mainstay Clang Quartet. 9:30 p.m. —Grayson Currin
10.08 THE MUSIC MAKER RELIEF FOUNDATION SHOWCASE
The wonderful works of the Music Maker Relief Foundation are well documented, as is the foundation's story. (If you need to catch up, visit www.musicmaker.org/history.) At its heart is Tim Duffy's love for Southern musical traditions and, even more so, his love for the musicians who, in turn, have been at the heart of that tradition for decades. When Duffy talks about the artists who are performing at the soul revue-style Music Maker Relief Foundation Showcase, it's like he's announcing the starting lineups for the Piedmont blues championship game. "Boo Hanks is the purest Blind Boy Fuller stylist alive today," says Duffy. "Taj Mahal says every note Captain Luke sings is a hot chocolate one." He continues, "Whistlin' Britches clicks his tongue as loud as a snare drum rim shot." You get the idea.
Joining those three are seven others, including harp player and guitarist extraordinaire George Higgs and drummer Bubba Norwood, who got his big start anchoring the rhythm section for Ike and Tina Turner at age 16. And, of course, Cool John Ferguson and John Dee Holeman will be part of the mix, as will Ron Hunter, Tad Walters and young player Sol—who, like Duffy, is doing his part to preserve musical traditions. —Rick Cornell
The Music Maker Relief Foundation Showcase is Friday, Oct. 8, at American Tobacco's amphitheater in Durham. The music starts at 6 p.m., and the event is free.
TUESDAY, OCT. 12
THE ROCKET SUMMER
Claim to fame: Buoyant, boyish pop-punk
The Rocket Summer's second date on an intimate tour—essentially everyman Bryce Avary, his piano, his guitar and a crowd ready for campfire sing-alongs—will no doubt deliver just what's expected. Though Avary is approaching 30, his latest effort—February's Of Men and Angels—has the same saccharine bounce as always, still aiming for an audience that's mostly a decade or so younger than he is. That said, Avary's tunes are undeniably catchy: You may have to stomach the teens holding onto his every word, but at least they won't spill the beans on this worthwhile guilty pleasure. At LOCAL 506. $15–$17/ 8:30 p.m.
STEPHEN KELLOGG AND THE SIXERS
From: Northampton, Mass.
Claim to fame: Polished, plainspoken roots rock
Stephen Kellogg and the Sixers eclipsed the 1,000-show mark back in April, and its seemingly perpetual cross-country tour keeps ticking. With an everyman persona and heartfelt lyricism, Kellogg leads crowds in nightly sing-alongs, powered by the Sixers' reliable jangle rock. Following the Boss' tradition of transforming a bunch of New England boys into a band of heartland rockers, Kellogg glosses his homespun tales with a hefty pop sheen. Enchanting local roots pop unit The Small Ponds—co-starring Matt Douglas of The Proclivites and Caitlin Cary of Whiskeytown and Tres Chicas—plays between the Sixers and the easygoing, down-home twang of tour bud Roy Jay. At CAT'S CRADLE. $15–$18/ 7:30 p.m. —Spencer Griffith