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The guide to the week's concerts 

This week's guide contains:

YES, PLEASE: Whitey Morgan & The 78's, Chuck Johnson, Ezekiel Graves, 13th Annual Elvisfest, Organos, Soft Company, Josh Carpenter, Ladycop, Filthybird, Butterflies, Durham Beers, Durham Bands, Winter Metalfest, Mayflies USA, North Elementary, The Library, Hush Arbors

VS.: The Walkmen vs. Obits


click to enlarge Whitey Morgan & The 78's - PHOTO COURTESY OF THE BAND


The deep baritone twang of former truck driver Whitey Morgan suggests Nashville rather than his actual Flint, Mich., birthplace. What's more, his honky-tonk—clearly inspired by the holy Highwaymen of outlaw country, with titles like "I Ain't Drunk" and "Cheatin' Again"—is as authentic as it gets. With his backing unit The 78's adding doleful pedal steel and fiddle to chugging, boot-stomping rhythms, Morgan's booze-fueled bravado is classically rebellious, though he'll occasionally slow it down and give way to sentimental barroom balladry. Asheville quintet Big Daddy Love opens with a loose, earthy blend of progressive bluegrass and country rock. $8/ 9 p.m. —Spencer Griffith


Both Chuck Johnson and Ezekiel Graves push heavy electronics down different paths. Graves makes big, billowing beats as Datahata, while Johnson breaks his beats until they become harsh noise excoriations as Pykrete. Tonight, though, they step away from the tables of gear and exchange them for acoustic guitars. Johnson's excellent work in California earned him a spot on a compilation issued by the excellent Tompkins Square label last year; his annual returns to the Triangle are always a treat. Also, Savage Nights and videos by Neill Prewitt. $5/ 9:30 p.m. —Grayson Currin


Sometimes it's less about nostalgia than homage. So while Elvisfest's undoubtedly retro, why not herald a moment when rock was still innocent and coquettish? The playful spirit extends from the Inn's full-service kitchen (serving the King's favored fare of griddled peanut butter and banana sandwiches) to Saturday's Elvis Costume and Krispy Kreme Donut-Eating contests (judged by Elvis impersonator/ performer ALVIS). Musically it's a two-day, 24-act (nearly 25 percent more than 2010) extravaganza that's become an institution on par with co-founder Dave Quick's other '50s-themed brainchild, Heavy Rebel Weekend.

This festival features another typically exciting mix. Regional favorites like one-man garage-psych madman Pinche Gringo and punchy harmony-enriched Asheville garage-pop twosome Mad Tea Party on Friday highlight the weekend. On Saturday, honky-tonking ex-Two Dollar Pistol John Howie and torch-country siren Taz Halloween lead Kitty Box & the Johnnies. Returning fest veterans Billy Joe Winghead and the messy, outlandish stage show of dark Gotham garage-surf trio Psycho Charger headline Friday and Saturday, respectively. Charleston's greasy cow-punkers The Defilers and the sultry Zippers-ish swing of Philly's Delco Nightingale are two extraordinarily talented newcomers not to miss Saturday. The music begins Friday at 7:30 p.m. and Saturday at 4 p.m. Admission is $12 each night, with $2 of the cover going to the Masonic Home for Children. —Chris Parker

click to enlarge Organos - PHOTO COURTESY OF THE BAND


Pick your pop pleasure: During a year that was particularly strong for EPs, Organos—the solo project of Schooner bassist Maria Albani—made one of the best. Built from artfully, intricately stacked fragments of playful melodies, Albani's songs on The Limbs hang hooks just long enough so that they dig deep. You'll recognize Soft Company mastermind Missy Thangs from her other current band, The Love Language, or perhaps from her stint in Le Weekend. Her songs here are languid enough to suggest the former but precise and punchy enough to suggest the latter. Josh Carpenter plays in Black Mountain pan-soul group Floating Action, and he's just finished an album that paints him as the hill-born cousin of the Triangle collective Drughorse. Like a melted stack of classic wax, Carpenter's music blends soul and rock with a swagger that's pure and a vibe that's perfect. $6/ 9:30 p.m. —Grayson Currin

click to enlarge Filthybird - FILE PHOTO BY JEREMY M. LANGE


Nightlight offers an oddly balanced trio of solid pop-rock. The processed flights of Brooklyn's Ladycop find an elegant middle ground between soaring electric atmospherics, computerized chirps and sugar-rushing hooks. Filthybird features similarly gorgeous guitar effects, but they package them into silky, psychedelic Southern jams with a firm romantic kick, thanks in large part to the resplendent voice of singer Renée Mendoza. Butterflies' current line-up tends toward the fuzzy side of slacker rock, but leader Josh Kimbrough focuses his microscope on all of love's little awkward moments, arriving at nervy odes that often match Filthybird's charm. $8/10 p.m. —Jordan Lawrence


True to the billing, these three diverse acts are all Durham-based. The Beast backs emcee Pierce Freelon's hyperliterate flow with an on-point jazz combo. One moment he's referencing early Wu-Tang or Nas, while during the next, he breaks into a honey-voiced soul chorus. The guitar 'n' sneer Dry Heathens play punk-tinged rock, like a landlocked Mudhoney. And if Red Collar is a less blatant Hold Steady, then Jason Kutchma's solo identity explores the same Springsteen mythos. $5/ 9:30 p.m. —Corbie Hill


It's something of a tradition in loud rock music to stack bills so deep the show has to start before suppertime. And, judging by its lineup, Raleigh's Winter Metalfest is all about tradition. Headliners Widow set the tone for the event, with a harmony-heavy brand of retro-metal built on a foundation of Judas Priest and Def Leppard. The band before them, Here Lies, nod to Sweden in the '90s with flurries of melodic guitar backing growled vocals and aggressive, insistent rhythms, in the lineage of At The Gates and In Flames. The remaining six bands fit somewhere between the two, whether in full-on power metal mode, like Chapel Hill's Colossus, or vintage thrash, like Raleigh's Outliar. $8-10/ 5:30 p.m.—Bryan Reed


Fans of catchy rock probably have this date circled since it features two of Chapel Hill's finest tunesmiths. North Elementary's keyboards provide an atmospheric sheen like creamy icing on shambling excuse-me melodies. The Mayflies USA are more spirited, vacillating between bright guitars (think The Byrds and Big Star) and punchy, ragged rock recalling The Replacements or Deathray Davies, as exemplified on their fine swan song, 2002's Walking in a Straight Line. They've reunited for several shows during the last few years. Brooklyn's The Library plays tender achy indie pop behind guitarists Jason Capleton (The Comas) and Matt Long (Mayflies USA). $6/ 9:30 p.m. —Chris Parker

click to enlarge Hush Arbors - PHOTO COURTESY OF THE BAND


Keith Wood is a multi-instrumentalist who has contributed his skills to Current 93 and Six Organs of Admittance but who saves his songs and his graceful, reedy voice for Hush Arbors. Wood's music toes the line between Laurel Canyon folk-rock and psychedelic free jams, meaning that his popularity in both mainstream circles (see Devendra Banhart) and his acceptance in outsider circles (see Tom Carter) has been limited. Don't be fooled, though: Wood has an excellent sense of what sounds good, whether that's the canter and inflection of his voice on a pop song or the reverb wash of his guitar on an astral jam. He's on tour with jazz bassist Jason Ajemian, a trek that should lend itself to interesting collaborations. 10 p.m. —Grayson Currin


click to enlarge The Walkmen - PHOTO COURTESY OF THE BAND


From: New York via Philadelphia and Washington
Since: 2000
Claim to fame: Shambling, studied indie rock

New York's The Walkmen make unimpeachably awesome, atmospheric indie rock that lots and lots of people love. Hyperfocused on craft and structure, with music filtered through vintage recording equipment so it turns into muddy jangle-pop, the band has been quietly reinventing its approach for more than a decade. Baltimore's Lower Dens are both well-loved and still a bit slept-on. Their debut, Twin Hand Movement, takes the term "underground rock" literally: Former freak folker Jana Hunter and friends sound like they're hammering out Velvets-inspired songs in a dungeon somewhere—straightforward rock turned into a bleary mass of pop and drone. At CAT'S CRADLE. $15–$17/ 9 p.m.


click to enlarge Obits - PHOTO COURTESY OF THE BAND


From: Brooklyn
Since: 2006
Claim to fame: Blunt, blood-and-guts garage rock

Brooklyn's The Obits make hardcore-tinged garage rock—the kind of stuff that lots and lots of people love but is out of step with music's supposed bleeding edge. These guys blast out clever, compact punk as if chillwave and the other dozen hedged, context-fueled sub-subgenres never existed—and that's a good thing. Atlanta's Gentlemen Jesse and His Men faithfully re-create the speedy pop of the '70s (Elvis Costello, Big Star when they're not a big bummer) and don't forget the nervous energy, emotionalism and angst either. They've got hooks for days, too. That all may sound easy enough, but it ain't. Openers Whatever Brains gloriously complicate the night even more. At KINGS. $9–$10/ 9:30 p.m. —Brandon Soderberg


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