This week's guide contains:
YES, PLEASE: Justin Robinson & The Mary Annettes, I Heart Chocolate, Six Organs Of Admittance, Peter Lamb & The Wolves, Shana Tucker Quartet, Totimoshi
VS1: Widow vs. Maple Stave
VS2: Lizzy Ross Band vs. Birds and Arrows
08.19 JUSTIN ROBINSON & THE MARY ANNETTES @ BYNUM GENERAL STORE
Ex-Carolina Chocolate Drop Justin Robinson's new quartet fuses traditional and modern styles that don't always share iPod space. Robinson—who often performs in cape and topknot like some autoharp-wielding samurai—harmonizes hauntingly with violist Sally Millikin and violinist Kyra Moore on distinctive Southern Gothic ballads. Yet Josh Stohl's hybrid acoustic/electric drum kit injects delicious neo-soul and trip-hop backbeats. It takes a talented group to mix early 20th-century folk-tinged popular music with the more urban pop that closed the 1990s—to bridge the gap between the Carter Family and Erykah Badu, so to speak. Bynum's General Store is just the purposefully anachronistic venue for this remarkable act. Free/ 7-9 p.m. —Corbie Hill
08.19 I HEART CHOCOLATE @ CASBAH
All hail the cacao bean! Once again, the Durham promoting duo Jeff and King present another one of their smartly themed dance parties, this time playing off King Kenney's DJ alter ego, Chocolate Thunder, and inviting several local chocolatiers to sling some of their most decadent desserts while guest DJs Pappy, Da'Ray and others spin everything from Afrobeat to house music. So, for one night, put down that lousy Hershey's bar and indulge in something a tad more gourmet, like a chocolate babka. You'll need the sugar boost if you plan to boogie the night away. Vendors include The Chocolate Door, The Parlour, Parlez-Vous Crepe and Berenbaum's. $5/ 9 p.m. —Eric Tullis
08.19 SIX ORGANS OF ADMITTANCE @ LOCAL 506
There are doubtless missteps within the discography of Ben Chasny, who, apart from his wandering-to-wondrous wayward folk project Six Organs of Admittance, has also worked with Comets on Fire, Current 93, Rangda and Badgerlore. But especially for someone who's so prolific and active, Chasny's rate of success is a testament to his guitar chops, his honeyed but weathered voice and his scope of sounds. Chasny, after all, has played the fiercest electric psychedelic rock and the faintest acoustic murmurs, the most expansive soundscapes and the tiniest sonic vignettes. Chasny's latest, Asleep on the Floodplain, does all of those things in 43 fairly righteous minutes, perhaps in part because he's slowed his output and exercised his editing abilities. With Donovan Quinn and Degollado. $9–$11/ 9:30 p.m. —Grayson Currin
08.20 PETER LAMB & THE WOLVES, SHANA TUCKER QUARTET @ CASBAH
For the first time, two of the Triangle's most boundary-melting jazz combos will share the bill at Casbah. Everything old is new again for Peter Lamb & the Wolves, a sax-led quintet with '60s cool and a Latin tinge. Lamb's arrangements of Ray Charles, Nat Cole, Tom Waits and Astor Piazzolla throw the classics for a toe-tapping loop-de-loop. Meanwhile, beautiful intensity exudes from the "chambersoul" of Shana Tucker, a singer-songwriter whose main instrument is the cello. Her original gumbo of jazz, folk and R&B evokes the spirit of Bill Withers and Esperanza Spalding. Tucker and her quartet play first at 8 p.m., followed by Lamb and his band around 9:30. "We want to introduce our respective fans to a double dose of good music," Tucker says, while Lamb adds that "we'll be doing some tunes together throughout the night." For a kinetic evening of swoon and swing, come as you are—and leave transformed. $8–$10/ 8 p.m. —Sylvia Pfeiffenberger
08.23 TOTIMOSHI @ CASBAH
The San Francisco trio Totimoshi has made a half-dozen records, and, taken together, none of them makes very much sense. In the early days, Totimoshi was a slave to sludge metal, doing the half-time Sabbath & Co. dance through gnarled riffs and barked vocals. For 2008's Milagrosa, though, they linked with Helmet's Page Hamilton as a producer essentially to take a musical trip to Chicago, where the band recombined their best version of Steve Albini's misanthropic bark over rock music that suggested, at once, Weezer, Silkworm and Nirvana. Confusing transition, right? On the forthcoming Avenger, they mostly return to the early proto-metal stomp, but there's a radio-ready lift that wasn't really there before. Sometimes, it even manages to work. With Demonaut and Knives. $6–$8/ 9 p.m. —Grayson Currin
THURSDAY, AUGUST 18
Claim to fame: Listenable power metal
There's a sense of urgency lacking in most contemporary power metal bands, as if unspooling a series of solos and yawning through some faux-castrati anthem about goblins and shit is all it takes to impress. That's not true of Widow, a Raleigh trio that rises above the trappings of the cheese-metal snore factory simply by playing faster and harder than most. Adding thrashy growls behind John Wooten's Halfordian melodies helps push the band out of tribute-band purgatory. It's still power metal, but there's a reason Widow is at the top of the bill. This package tour, "Uniting the Powers of Metal," also boasts the like-minded Creation's End, Seven Kingdoms and Artizan. At VOLUME 11. $10/time TBA.
Claim to fame: Purposeful math rock
Math rock doesn't often suffer from a lack of energy; its deliberately abrupt nature ensures that. But it's still prone to technical wankery, losing listeners as players lose themselves in their own ability. Maple Stave never has this problem. The Durham trio's potent instrumental rock never loses direction for the sake of ostentatious displays. In fact, as this sort of thing goes, Maple Stave is downright economical. They're powerful, too, dropping superhuman heaviness with a sharpshooter's precision. They'll be complemented by Wisconsin bands IfIHadAHiFi and Zebras, both of whom recall Bear Vs. Shark for their noisy bluntness and whimsical scuzz, respectively. At THE PINHOOK. $5/ 9 p.m. —Bryan C. Reed
SATURDAY, AUGUST 20
LIZZY ROSS BAND
From: Chapel Hill
Claim to fame: Former Lafcadio muse's soulful sweetness
Quickly picking up the pieces after the demise of her twangy UNC-based indie soul outfit Lafcadio, Lizzy Ross has headed largely in the same direction. The band that bears her name smartly puts the focus squarely upon Ross' soothing songbird lilt, complementing her sassy and sultry duality with sophisticated, jazzy arrangements that shuffle along with a touch of folk influence and just a hint of rock 'n' roll spirit. Ross's songwriting, however, is straight blues: Her dozen or so originals are lovelorn narratives that burn with passion, delivered with sincerity that cuts deep. At SAXAPAHAW RIVERMILL. Free/6 p.m.
BIRDS AND ARROWS
From: Chapel Hill
Claim to fame: Intensely intimate relational portraits
Birds and Arrows matches the gorgeous, warm marital harmonies of Pete and Andrea Connolly with elegant, dramatic sweeps of Josh Starmer's cello strings, creating delicately orchestrated nuggets of cinematic folk-pop that soundtrack the honest revelations of behind-closed-doors moments (to which the couple alludes with subtle lyrical detail). Winston-Salem roots rockers the Bayonets, led by singer-songwriter Caleb Caudle, polish Caudle's earnest Americana anthems with a thin layer of big city gloss, not far removed from Ryan Adams' solo stuff. Jeff Crawford opens with a batch of his masterfully penned tunes and a mighty fine backing band. At THE PINHOOK. $5/9 p.m. —Spencer Griffith
08.19 LEAGUES @ LINCOLN THEATRE
"If our sound has an optimistic feel to it, it's probably because we all really feel that way," says Leagues drummer Jeremy Lutito. Yet the Tennessee native doesn't believe positivity is missing in modern popular music, even as it becomes increasingly fragmented and boutique. "I think people connect deeply with what's honest, whether it's dark or uplifting."
Though Leagues' membership is spread across several time zones, it's ostensibly a Nashville act. Thad Cockrell, less a Christian musician and more a musician who happens to be Christian, returned to Raleigh in 2008 after overworking himself in the music industry hub. In 2010, he and local bassist Mike Simons tapped Lutito and Minnesota guitarist Tyler Burkum to form Leagues, and the players convened in Nashville. But, unexpectedly for a band featuring veteran hired guns, the music was written collaboratively rather than following a preset vision.
Their three-song EP, released in June, references the clarity and punch of the Police and U2. "Every falling out brings us back to loving," Cockrell sings reassuringly atop a reggae-rooted groove in "Mind Games." And in "Haunted," he celebrates his closeness to Christ and reminds us, "Everybody's got a heart worth breaking/ Everybody is the one that got away." Colourslide opens. $13–$15/ 9 p.m. —Corbie Hill