This week's guide contains:
YES, PLEASE: Shelby Lynne, Viva Voce, Parson Red Heads, CAVE, Cantwell Gomez & Jordan, Necronomitron, Lurch, Langhorne Slim & the Law, Matrimony, Lemonheads, Effingham, Horseback, The Atlas Moth, Dark Dark Dark, A Hawk & A Hacksaw, Pillars and Tongues, tUnE-yArDs
VS.: Stephen Kellogg vs. Will Hoge vs. Stephen Malkmus
09.30 SHELBY LYNNE @ THE ARTSCENTER
Shelby Lynne has covered more territory than FedEx—country (from slick Nashville pop to dusty old school), Sheryl Crow-ish roots rock, smoky torch jazz, Southern soul and adult contemporary pop. She and younger sister Allison Moorer survived a traumatic childhood (including their parents' murder-suicide) to both emerge as country artists. Lynne arrived in time to catch the late-'80s New Traditionalist wave, eventually making forays into commercial country. She increasingly struggled to escape those narrow stylistic confines. She's truly found her own path in the last eight years, with a voice that suggests a slumming angel. She's now released four consecutive great albums, with another due in October. $24–$28/ 8:30 p.m. —Chris Parker
09.30 VIVA VOCE, PARSON RED HEADS @ LOCAL 506
"Husband-wife indie-folk-pop from Portland, Oregon" might seem like a set of parameters too narrow for building a double bill, but Viva Voce and the Parson Red Heads both qualify. Still, there are some differences, too. Kevin and Anita Robinson front Viva Voce and lean more toward darker moods on their half-dozen records, including this summer's The Future Will Destroy You. Evan and Brette Marie Way play guitar and drums, respectively, for the Parsons, with lead guitarist Sam Fowles sharing in the singing and songwriting. Their new disc, Yearling, is full of bright, brilliant melodies and was recorded primarily in North Carolina with Chris Stamey and Mitch Easter. $8–$10/ 9:30 p.m. —Peter Blackstock
09.30 CAVE @ Nightlight
Bless its members' Midwest spirits, Chicago's CAVE has fun with Krautrock, turning its insistent rhythms and slowly gathering tones into a ceaselessly spirited celebration. Neverendless, their latest for Drag City, feels like the next installation of Nike's memorable series of records custom-made for joggers, with its rare splice of relentlessness and ebullience. Noise lord and weird rhythm sculptor Dino Felipe opens, while the night starts with a Boyzone reunion. $6/ 9:30 p.m. —Grayson Currin
10.01 CANTWELL GOMEZ & JORDAN, NECRONOMITRON, LURCH @ THE PINHOOK
Durham's longstanding spazz-rock trio Cantwell, Gomez & Jordan is a reliable headliner for a show like this: David Jordan's knotty, frantic guitar is the perfectly uneasy complement to Anne Gomez's bass churn (and occasional fits of No Wave sax). At the base is the reliably intense Dave Cantwell, who's as exciting to watch behind his low-set drum throne as he is to hear. Providence, R.I., outfit Necronomitron plays a sort of hyperactive death metal that both fits its hometown's noise rock reputation (think Lightning Bolt meets Total Fucking Destruction) and bridges the gap between CGJ's spazz and opener Lurch's tar-caked growl. 10 p.m. —Bryan Reed
10.02 LANGHORNE SLIM & THE LAW, MATRIMONY @ CASBAH
Since dropping out of music school in the early '00s to open for the Trachtenburg Family Slideshow Players on a national tour, Langhorne Slim has experienced a slow, steady build. Along the way, his Dylan-inspired folk-blues has matured from rollicking wild-eyed fervor to something more measured and nuanced. With his fourth album, 2009's Be Set Free, he makes the transition from mere singer-songwriter to an artist. With producer Chris Funk (of The Decemberists), he explores intricate pop not far removed from Conor Oberst's approach on Wide Awake. He's generally high-spirited with a humble, genial charm, giving his performances the intimacy of a back-porch hootenanny. $10–$12/ 9 p.m. —Chris Parker
10.02 LEMONHEADS @ CAT'S CRADLE
When It's a Shame About Ray came out in 1992, Boston power pop trio the Lemonheads seemed destined for stardom. Not long after the album's release, leader Evan Dando even appeared on People magazine's "50 Most Beautiful People" list, though Dando always resisted attempts to hunkify his image. He also wasn't exactly pleased that the record label appended the band's uninspired cover of Simon & Garfunkel's "Mrs. Robinson" to the end of the album; though it became a minor hit, it was hardly necessary aside sparkling, memorable originals such as "Alison's Starting to Happen" and "Confetti." On their current tour, the band is playing Ray in its entirety, though "Mrs. Robinson" has been absent from the set lists. It's a shame the touring band won't also include the album's original personnel, which included Dando's longtime pal Juliana Hatfield on bass. The Shining Twins and New York Rivals open. $17–$20/ 9 p.m. —Peter Blackstock
10.03 EFFINGHAM @ THE CAVE
Named for the small Kansas town where songwriter Jeremy Blair was raised (population: 542, he says), the Durham quartet Effingham comes about its Americana honestly. The songs tell unhurried tales over steady acoustic jangle, echoing the vastness of his native landscape. Yet Blair's voice indicates simultaneous frustration and resignation, seething and snapping alongside John Hill's lyrical guitar. If that dichotomy between the clichéd freedom of the open road and the isolation of such remote places defines Americana, then Effingham is the real deal. New York's The Glorious Veins apply a haughty glam sneer to arena-treated new wave rock, while Greensboro's Revolution Mill jangles along at a tight pop pace. 10 p.m. —Corbie Hill
10.04 HORSEBACK, THE ATLAS MOTH @ NIGHTLIGHT
Here's one of the best metal bills of the year, bar none: Horseback headlines with a rare full-band performance that's almost certain to recast Jenks Miller's mix of noise, pscyh, doom and black metal into revitalized bolts. Meanwhile, Venerable, the latest from KEN Mode, is a mean-as-hell mix of hardcore and death metal, slashing and burning as it roars and rolls. The Atlas Moth—a metal band as imaginative as its name suggests—snags ths bill's middle. $7/ 9:30 p.m. —Grayson Currin
10.05 DARK DARK DARK, A HAWK & A HACKSAW, PILLARS AND TONGUES @ THE PINHOOK
There's a Gypsy vibrancy to Dark Dark Dark's tactile chamber pop, helping to ground their ramshackle theatrical sway in a moody sweep of accordions, violins and piano. They exist in a space between Dresden Dolls and DeVotchka, neither as theater geeky as the former nor as bohemian chic as the latter. The organic warmth of their sound and sense of restraint ensure that, even when the arrangements bloom into baroque frills, it still sounds like there's something human beating at the center. Singer, pianist and accordionist Nona Marie Invie's alto flutters and flits atop the creamy swells, recalling the breathy drama of Kate Bush. The excellent A Hawk & A Hacksaw opens, along with Pillars and Tongues. $10–$12/ 8 p.m. —Chris Parker
10.05 TUNE-YARDS @ CAT'S CRADLE
The individual parts on w h o k i l l, the second album from the copy editor scourge known as tUnE-yArDs, aren't so impressive, at least in isolation. But Merrill Garbus' strange sense of how to build a song means that rhythms and melodies find each other at the strangest angles, creating an affinity and propulsion that are better intuited than understood. Her shows are kinetic and charming; don't miss it. $12–$14/ 9 p.m. —Grayson Currin
SATURDAY, OCT. 1
Claim to fame: Hard-touring pop rocker
After a brief stint fronting a hard rock band from suburban Philly, Stephen Kellogg began achieving success as a solo acoustic act, self-releasing five discs of material before bolstering his songwriting with the backing of The Sixers. The band—a UMass-based trio that's made just a couple lineup changes throughout the years—quickly became road warriors, celebrating their 1,000th show last April. They've taken a well-deserved break in 2011, but they return behind the just-released Gift Horse, their seventh effort of buoyant pop rock that'll compel coed crowds to sing along. Slick piano poster Jon McLaughlin and folk-focused songbird Amy Lennard open. At CAT'S CRADLE. $16–$18/ 7:30 p.m.
Claim to fame: Hard-working roots rocker
After a brief stint at Western Kentucky University, Will Hoge broke into music by leading short-lived Southern rock group Spoonful before transferring that band's twang to a prolific solo career. He's such a busy writer that a summer 2008 scooter accident that left him with numerous broken bones and in critical condition only slowed him for mere months. Hoge's latest full-length—appropriately named Number Seven—blends his rowdy roots tendencies and slow-burn ballads with a welcome touch of blue-eyed soul. Music City-via-Raleigh singer/songwriter James Dunn opens with like-minded heartland rock that wears Springsteen inspiration on its sleeve. At LINCOLN THEATRE. $10–$12/ 9 p.m.
Claim to fame: Slack-ass indie rocker
After brief stints in a few Northern California punk bands, Stephen Malkmus broke new ground fronting indie rock icons Pavement before exporting that band's quirky pop into his solo career. Backed by The Jicks, Malkmus retains the immediately recognizable speak-sing, falsetto, absurd lyricism, guitar freak-outs and indelible hooks that made Pavement so crucial. While the songwriting on his post-Pavement work—including his Beck-produced fifth disc Mirror Traffic—isn't as consistently solid, fans won't be disappointed. Malkmus is still the clear winner here. Holy Sons—obvious Malkmus disciples—open. At HAW RIVER BALLROOM. $17–$20/ 8 p.m. —Spencer Griffith
Signalfest alumni include fair-use legends Negativland and Baltimore-via-Asheville rising dance nerds EAR PWR. In the same inclusive, ambitious mode, this year's iteration features stages both in Raleigh and Chapel Hill and acts gathered from across the digital spectrum.
On one extreme, we have an experimental bill curated by Shaun Sandor and Bryce Eiman of 919 Noise (at Nightlight, natch). Mecanikill?'s deconstructed industrial freakouts, at Raleigh's Shakedown Street, play like a German expressionist painting come to life. On the other extreme, trance-inducing IDM sets by Tunnidge and Distal may change Players' booty club vibe to something more meditative, even if still grind-inducing. Considering electronic elements in more and more forms of popular music, the accessible acts falling between these poles are no surprise. Notably, Charlotte emcee Stranger Day's aggressive party-rap is refreshingly reminiscent of late-'90s hip-hop radio.
But even with a show at Cat's Cradle and dance parties all over, Signalfest doesn't take a top-down view of electronic music. Many performers are appearing to lecture or hold Q-and-A sessions at UNC's Kenan Music Building for Signal Sessions—ostensibly classes for aspiring electronic musicians. The locations and price structure are all over the board, so visit signalfest.com. —Corbie Hill