This week's guide contains:
YES, PLEASE: Mount Moriah, Skylar Gudasz & the Ugly Girls, Coma Cinema, Lake & Hennepin, Stella Lively, the Revolutionary Sweethearts, Rainbow Danger Club, Whatever Brains, Brain F≠, Shoxx, Double Negative, Salvation, Gross Ghost, Wesley Wolfe, Wembley, Agalloch, Taurus
VS.: Justin Robinson and the Mary Annettes vs. Beverly "Guitar" Watkins
INTRODUCING: Solar Halos
07.26 MOUNT MORIAH, SKYLAR GUDASZ & THE UGLY GIRLS @ LOCALLY GROWN
Tonight, two of the most endearing voices in the state share a bill, not to mention some of the best variations on what you might call country music around. Heather McEntire leads Mount Moriah, a refined unit that puts her wise and revealing twang above a graceful and restrained indie rock band. Imagine The National reconnecting the dots and limiting the layers, and you're close. Both Skylar Gudasz' backing band and her singing cut a bit closer to traditional roles, but that doesn't mean you've necessarily heard this before. Gudasz' voice is a wonderfully intricate instrument, full of quirks and surprises and changes, which makes it perfectly suited for her tender, smart songs. Locally Grown is a free series held in Wallace Plaza in Chapel Hill. 6 p.m. —Grayson Currin
07.26 COMA CINEMA @ NIGHTLIGHT
In his varied and voracious self-recording projects, Coma Cinema leader Mat Cothran has managed to unify disparate moods into a remarkably cohesive catalog. From the combustible, electro-infused bedroom pop of Coma Cinema to the brittle ballads of the more stripped-back Elvis Depressedly, Cothran distills frantic, inconsolable depression into songs that alternately seethe and simmer. This even holds for the sadistically sexy dance jams of Gremlins, his new collaboration with members of Toro Y Moi and Braids. But no matter the tenor of his emoting, his fraught and fuzzy tracks always cut deep.
Cothran's most recent release, Depressedly's mickey's dead, presents his most nuanced numbers to date. Buzzing synths and electronics add industrial clamor to bruised acoustic odes, heightening the sense of strung-out isolation in lines like, "You can turn all my words against me until I choke on all I've said." The live band that performs as Coma Cinema pushes his frustrations to more unhinged ends, blasting through aggressively distorted pop-rock as Cothran rants with a fury bordering on the psychotic. On record, Cothran heats up but never hits his boiling point; live, his emotions thankfully overflow. Free/9 p.m. —Jordan Lawrence
07.26 LAKE & HENNEPIN, STELLA LIVELY, THE REVOLUTIONARY SWEETHEARTS @ KINGS
Every few quarters, major music magazines like to trot out stereotypes about women in rock 'n' roll by superficially trying to rebuff them; in their attempts to sell magazines, "Women Who Rock" features and lists typically revert to tawdry cleavage shots and tired comparisons to men, thereby instantly pissing on the purpose. So, if you actually want women who rock without coded pleas for new subscribers, check this three-piece bill: In Lake & Hennepin, former Dirty Little Heater Reese McHenry leads a rock band that understands the thrill of any outfit she commands is bound to be her big voice—soulful and maneuverable, loud and luring. Meanwhile, Revolutionary Sweethearts cut fine and finessed paths between rock and pop with enviable tone and temperament; and Stella Lively twists a bit of country grit into its rock wallop. Get served. $5/9:30 p.m. —Grayson Currin
07.26 RAINBOW DANGER CLUB @ THE CAVE
Shanghai's Rainbow Danger Club reveals its bombast intriguingly. Its sound is a hybrid of some of the past decade's major indie movements: There's Animal Collective's mob-harmony bounce, but not its wandering noise; Liars' percussive dance-punk, but not its snide freakiness; Decemberists and Arcade Fire's hyperbolic chamber pop, but with half the members. There's nothing wrong with skimming off the top of each movement, so to speak, if the end result gathers and celebrates the strengths of each approach, as does the 2011 LP Where Maps End. Tracks like the instrumental "Lego Sunrise" show the promise of this variegated style while shaping their own endearing welcome, too. $5/10 p.m. —Corbie Hill
07.27 WHATEVER BRAINS, BRAIN F≠ @ SLIM'S
Whatever Brains spent the past few years winding jagged melodic strands into tight knots of bitter, excitable art rock. In the process, they became one of the Triangle's top-tier local acts. Released only a few months ago, the Brains' second LP offers their most cohesive collection to date, providing the impetus for the 16-date tour that kicks off tonight. But given the band's predilection for proliferation, don't be surprised to hear plenty of new songs in the set list. Charlotte's Brain F≠ ought to have new songs of their own, too, as the band nears completion of a follow-up to last year's Sleep Rough, due this fall. Also, New God and Bishops. 9 p.m. —Bryan C. Reed
07.27 SHOXX, DOUBLE NEGATIVE, SALVATION @ KINGS
New York's been a hub (and arguably a birthplace) for punk since the days of CBGB. But the space that once held the storied punk sanctuary is now a high-end boutique—a far cry from its functions during the bankrupt, crime-ridden '70s. But all that swept-under grit and grime seems to have found its way into a new guard, marauding like C.H.U.D.s in the Big Apple. Acts like Crazy Spirit, Hank Wood and the Hammerheads and tonight's headliner, Shoxx, mutate the punk template into a snarling, staggering beast. Feedback strands cling like slime, ripped open by fast surges of grungier-than-grunge grooves. Pennsylvania's Salvation meet Shoxx's hulking mass with sharp, focused hardcore. Local titans Double Negative share the bill. $7/8 p.m. —Bryan C. Reed
07.28 GROSS GHOST, WESLEY WOLFE @ KINGS
In March, the world welcomed Brer Rabbit, the debut full-length from Gross Ghost. Its 11 songs of woozy garage pop tricked out focused songwriting with jazz touches and punk scruff. The quintet turns familiar frustrations into ear-catching indie rock that'll haunt you long after the spin cycle is done. Likewise, Wesley Wolfe's tunes have a way of sticking; the Carrboro songwriter's hooky power pop is equal measures of introspective lyrics and charging riffs. Midnight Plus One and Wool join as openers. Get there early and nosh free Moonlight Pizza and PBR, available for the first 100 entrants. $5/9 p.m. —Ashley Melzer
07.28 WEMBLEY @ THE CAVE
Wembley is one of the Triangle's most frustratingly well-kept secrets. With a pair of free releases waiting on their website, the fetching indie poppers are idling at the fringe, ready to ensnare new fans. Their musical nets are woven with a captivating array of styles, beautifully broken bedroom pop building into heady Radiohead rock, livened by bright, uptempo hooks and melody. With a catchy mix that bridges several popular influences, it's puzzling that popularity has eluded them. Here, they pair with the complementary new Durham act I Appreciate Your Honesty, whose lo-fi acoustic slow burners highlight the tenderness of Wembley's aesthetic. $5/10 p.m. —Jordan Lawrence
07.29 AGALLOCH, TAURUS @ KINGS
Tours used to be relatively infrequent for Agalloch, but either for shifts in personnel or for their fervent cult status finally giving way to deserved broader awareness, this is the second time they've played Raleigh in less than 18 months. Good for us: The Portland black metallurgists Agalloch are one of the most inventive bands in heavy music today, combining extreme and unrelenting blitzes with impasses so pretty you might swear you recognized them from a soundtrack. Somehow, they avoid making that mix sound maudlin, so the specific gravities of both sound sets fit like hand and glove, not ham and fist. They're touring on Faustian Echoes, a self-released, one-track EP that stands as one of the sole missteps of Agalloch's discography, if only because it seems like an abandoned chance for the band to stretch its techniques. Still, they're not to be missed. With Taurus. $13–$16/9:30 p.m. —Grayson Currin
FRIDAY, JULY 27
JUSTIN ROBINSON AND THE MARY ANNETTES
Claim To Fame: Founding member of the Carolina Chocolate Drops
Justin Robinson and the Mary Annettes aggregate an eclectic array of instruments and ideas to create their skewed take on string-band music. More orchestral than jug, more hip-hop than bluegrass, the music is an unexpectedly hypnotic melanage of sounds. For proof positive, one need listen no further than the band's 2012 debut full-length, Bones for Tender. The album's rich textures depend on violin, viola, banjo, acoustic and electric drums, marimba and the jangly chirp of an Autoharp. Their showmanship and sense of adventure on record reflects the live show, a typically theatrical affair sometimes featuring costumes and always featuring flair. At AMERICAN TOBACCO CAMPUS. Free/6 p.m.
BEVERLY "GUITAR" WATKINS
Claim To Fame: Former bandmate of Piano Red
When you have a nickname like "Guitar," it's a sure bet you know how to handle one. Beverly Watkins has been doing just that since hitting the stage with Piano Red in the '50s. Her swagger and grooves have put her in the company of James Brown, B.B. King and Ray Charles in their heyday; she's torn up the stage at blues clubs in the years since. Tonight, she'll share duties with an impressive revue of bluesmen: original JBs guitarist Robert Lee Coleman, Piano Red's nephew Albert White, gospel and blues artist Shelton Powe, drummer Adie Dean and jazz musician Nashid Abdul Khaaliq. At HAW RIVER BALLROOM. $20–$25/8 p.m. —Ashley Melzer
07.26 SOLAR HALOS @ CHAPEL HILL UNDERGROUND
Hard-riffing Chapel Hill doom duo The Curtains of Night played its last show in August 2010, at The Reservoir's Ragnarok Weekend. They subsequently entered hiatus as guitarist Nora Rogers started grad school at UNC. By the time she found time to play again, Curtains drummer Lauren Fitzpatrick had joined Bitter Resolve. So Rogers started playing with the perpetually busy John Crouch—drummer of Horseback, Airstrip and Caltrop—when her schedule permitted. Last fall, they brought in Fin Fang Foom and Bellafea bassist Eddie Sanchez and began practicing in earnest. Tonight they make their live debut.
"We didn't lay out too many aesthetic guidelines other than dark and heavy but not abrasive," she says. Rogers' jaw-dropping guitar acrobatics were central to Curtains, but she wanted to focus more on vocals with Solar Halos. "Eddie was a natural choice since he sings and plays bass."
With its pulsing, meditative riffs, Solar Halos offers some echoes of Horseback, a band in which Rogers briefly played. She has dropped the fierce vocals and high-test pummel of Curtains for a bluesy, plaintive—though equally powerful—approach.
Headliners MAKE, whose drone-metal masterpiece Trephine was one of 2011's most exciting local records, celebrate that album's vinyl release tonight. Free/9 p.m. —Corbie Hill