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The guide to the week's concerts 

This week's guide contains:

YES, PLEASE: John Wesley Coleman, Heartless Bastards, Lilac Shadows, The Invisible Hand, Borrowed Beams of Light, Zen Frisbee, Moonface, New Town Drunks, Red Hot Poker Dots, Curtis Ellis, Fuck the Facts, Delicate Steve

VS: Josh Ritter vs. American Idol Live

INTRODUCING: Rock Star Stephen Vincent



YES, PLEASE...

07.20 JOHN WESLEY COLEMAN @ NIGHTLIGHT

Here's a treat if you like your rock 'n' roll fuzzed-out and fun as hell. Austin's John Wesley Coleman carries a load of simple, charming garage jams. Steeped in cozy feedback and a never-ending supply of cleverly infectious riffs, Coleman crafts fleeting observations into fabulously funny gems with meaty hooks that'll stick with you long after the initial chuckle subsides. Hometown heroes Shit Horse are darker but no less entertaining. As the backing trio bends noisy rock into a stormy psychedelic squall, singer Danny Mason rants like an old soul man freshly released from hell. Dolce Nirvana and Rayon Beach also play. $5/ 9:30 p.m. —Jordan Lawrence

click to enlarge Heartless Bastards - COURTESY OF THE ARTIST

07.21 HEARTLESS BASTARDS @ LOCAL 506

Erica Wennerstrom's flinty voice is hard and rough like unfinished oak, its weathered tone complementing the swaggering sinew of the Heartless Bastards' roots-based sound. Their first two albums offered bruising garage-blues built on brash strokes of distortion and pliant melody. After trading Cincinnati for Austin in 2008, Wennerstrom overhauled the quartet and revamped the approach for 2009's The Mountain. Electric guitars give way to acoustic instrumentation (violin, banjo, mandolin) pursuing an old-timey ache. Wennerstrom's vocals deliver a lithe torch-country waver showcasing heretofore unseen finesse. It's a marked departure that retains much of the arid, lumbering sway of prior efforts while increasing dynamics and dialing back the power. $12–$14/ 9 p.m. —Chris Parker

07.22 LILAC SHADOWS, THE INVISIBLE HAND, BORROWED BEAMS OF LIGHT @ THE PINHOOK

Lilac Shadows' paisley world shimmers in waves of distortion, evoking stoned late nights swaying beneath the twinkle of city lights. While obviously informed by shoegaze, their psych-rock's not as creamy and overpowering, exploring a drier, more austere sound at times reminiscent of the Black Angels' arid swelter. Led by Sam Logan and Derek Torres, the band appears to be the sibling outgrowth of their band T0W3RS. The openers, Charlottesville's Invisible Hand, are crisper and crunchier, delivering a punchy garage rock/power pop sound high in ringing guitar clamor and sticky hooks. BBOL's nostalgic indie pop bounces with sunny '60s Cali-pop energy. $5/ 10 p.m. —Chris Parker

07.22 ZEN FRISBEE @ THE CAVE

Local legends Zen Frisbee never enjoyed much fame outside the area, but their ragged rock somehow epitomized the slack, barely employable character of Chapel Hill's bar scene. (Hell, maybe it's just them.) Guitarist brothers Laird and Kevin Dixon trade guitar licks weaving subtle, pliant texture with prickly but infectious hooks. Brian Walker's vocals swagger over the top in a staggering croon that screams, "I'm not as think as you drunk I am." Backed by a rotating rhythm section over the years, they possess a loose, carefree spirit that threatens to shatter into a hundred pieces live, delighting the audience with death-defying derring-do like a tottering tightrope walker. They play sets at 7:30 p.m. and 10 p.m. —Chris Parker

click to enlarge Moonface - COURTESY OF THE ARTIST

07.22 MOONFACE @ KINGS

You might not know the name Moonface; when the band rolls into town, they'll have just one EP to their credit, with a new LP due in August. But if you've listened to indie rock at all during the last decade, you likely know the half-strangled, hyper-loquacious sound of Spencer Krug, who also spends his time in Sunset Rubdown, Swan Lake and most famously, Wolf Parade. Moonface takes a sort of smeared approach to Krug's songs, throwing organs and all manner of electronics beneath his referential speak-sing. If you like Krug's past, you'll like Moonface's present; he's one of the most instantly identifiable singers singing right now. $10–$12/ 8 p.m. —Grayson Currin

07.23 NEW TOWN DRUNKS, RED HOT POKER DOTS, CURTIS ELLIS @ THE STATION AT SOUTHERN RAIL

They might be New Town Drunks, but they've turned into fixtures. When they're on, they combine footloose ramshackle fun ("Autumn's Truck"), wry humor ("Down With the Poor") and gentle ruminative sway ("Lost"). Diane Koistinen's husky vocals are inviting like a backyard barbeque while hubby Roberto Cofresi's plucked acoustic skips between a flamenco vibe, country-blues swing and ringing folk. They've released a fine pair of studio albums and are celebrating the release of their second live disc, Live. Arrive early to inhale the spunky roadhouse twang of Aussie transplants, the Red Hot Poker Dots. 9 p.m. —Chris Parker

07.23 FUCK THE FACTS @ KINGS

Though ostensibly accurate, calling Fuck the Facts a grindcore band—or merely a grindcore band—shortchanges the band's accomplished approach. The Canadian troupe's 2010 Unnamed EP is riddled with sprees of noise-rock squall, welcoming to melodic explorations and driven by sudden seismic shifts in rhythm. Founder and guitarist Topon Das has formed this into one of the more exciting grind bands by embracing lengthier songwriting ("La Tete Hors De L'eau" is almost four minutes!), explosive dynamics and by reaching beyond grindcore's limitations. Locals RBT and Snake Baptist open with straightforward grindcore and searing power-violence, respectively. $7/ 10 p.m. —Bryan C. Reed

click to enlarge Delicate Steve - COURTESY OF THE ARTIST

07.24 DELICATE STEVE @ LOCAL 506

Wondervisions is the debut LP by Steve Marion, a New Jersey guitar-and-effects-wunderkind who records as Delicate Steve. It's not a perfect album, at least in the traditional sense. As best as I can tell, there's no narrative, little care for cohesion and, at best, a modicum of editing. But, as its name subtly implies, Wondervisions is a flood of good ideas that happen to be housed in the same place. From glimmering drones and acoustic majesty to radiant funk and Afro-punk, it's a record about moments of experience and immersion, not side-long repetition and development. Kudos to David Byrne's Luaka Bop for releasing it, then; labels generally look for a story they can sell with debuts, an identity that can be explained and regurgitated. Delicate Steve will have none of that, which means Marion has plenty of pretty much everything you can imagine to offer. With Matt Northup. $9/ 9:30 p.m. —Grayson Currin


WEDNESDAY, JULY 27

JOSH RITTER

From: Moscow, Idaho
Since: 1997
Claim to fame: A perfectly lilting voice

The complaint generally lodged against Idaho-based singer-songwriter Josh Ritter is that his euphonic, magnetic folk-pop lifts only from the most standard American sources: A man and a woman consider their love in the face of nuclear holocaust; folklore figures like Stackalee and Delia tragically interact; a pretty Midwest woman gets corrupted by a mischievous man. But those dismissals miss the essential, central subversion of Ritter's work, as the bright-eyed, boyish songwriter with the acoustic guitar travels the dark corners of adult considerations in music that glows like the brightest ends of the adult contemporary dial. Obsessed with death, corruption and the precarious balance of priorities, Ritter is a seemingly affable guy hoping to make you hum along with some difficult topics. With Yellowbirds. At CAT'S CRADLE. $18–$20/ 8 p.m.

VS.

AMERICAN IDOL LIVE

From: Fox
Since: 2002
Claim to fame: Changing the way lots of Americans perceive musicians

After 10 seasons, American Idol has documented the most common stories in America, as well as some of the country's most pressing problems, even as it set out to entertain. Consider, of course, the disparity between Season 2's runner-up, Clay Aiken, and Season 8's runner-up, Adam Lambert—the closeted Aiken hid his homosexuality to play the part of a country boy too polite, as he told Rolling Stone, to cuss, while the much more flamboyant Lambert teased the same magazine about his own sexuality. Despite Ryan Seacrest's stationary grin, the show has dealt with issues of rape and teenage pregnancy, mental handicap and xenophobia. Musically, though, American Idol has cloaked its sometimes provocative themes and characters behind a stock of songs that's too standard to be interesting or innovative. If you're one of those who sometimes thought Ritter wasn't pushing the envelope, go see this tour and reset your standards. Ritter is one of the best we've got. At RBC CENTER. $56.55–$77.60/ 7 p.m. —Grayson Currin


INTRODUCING...

07.22 ROCK STAR STEPHEN VINCENT @ BROAD STREET CAFE

"For years, I unsuccessfully tried to find a way for my funny songs to coexist with my serious songs on stage," Durham songwriter Stephen Vincent says. "People were left waiting for punch lines that were not coming. I actually had quite an inner struggle about what I really wanted to be."

Vincent's solution: an alter ego. As Rock Star Stephen Vincent —an openly fictionalized version of himself—the musician has found his comedic outlet. First Time Alone With a Girl in Her Dorm Room is a shamelessly silly album punctuated throughout with canned laughter and applause. Vincent releases it tonight at the Broad Street Cafe. "If you're offended that I'm begging you to be my fan," he sings in "Please Like My Fan Page." "Just be glad I waited 'til now to ask that you recommend my page to all your friends." "Susan Rogers is a Guitar Snatcher" plays like a John Prine comedy song with a Wesley Willis cadence; in "Will Someone Please," he admits he's had the same condom in his pocket for eight years.

Maybe someday, says the excited Vincent, he'll do a show where he's his own opener: "I had no idea how much fun this would be until I started doing it." Free/ 10 p.m. —Corbie Hill

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