YES, PLEASE: Vex, Lilac Shadows, White Laces, Jenny Besetzt, 95 Live With Dj Premier, Phatlynx, John Howie Jr. & The Rosewood Bluff, Johnny Rawls, Tom Maxwell, Discovery, Chelsea Wolfe
RETURNING… All Your Science
GATHERING… Jeff Crawford & Friends
08.09 VEX @ SLIM'S
Vex is a quintet of heavy music polyglots from Austin, Texas. On their fine new second album, Memorious, they join the international fleet of bands who affix far-flung interests—symphonic structures, field recordings, thrash outbursts, atmospheric passages—above a core of black metal rigor. The record's seven-minute centerpiece, "Wasteland (...How Long Ago)," moves through all of those phases; still, it's best when stretches of deliberate chug presage archly victorious instrumental breaks. Think Agalloch with the ambition, but not yet the finesse. Shadows headline, while Wake Forest upstarts Hansgraf open. $5/9 p.m. —Grayson Currin
08.09 LILAC SHADOWS, WHITE LACES, JENNY BESETZT @ THE NIGHTLIGHT
Three bands from three towns showcase only a bit of the span of what's permissible as indie rock in 2012. Led by pop savant Sam Logan, Chapel Hill's Lilac Shadows stretch his hooks like wire, twisting them through psychedelic guises and transmogrified poses. Like Spacemen 3 touched by honey, Lilac Shadows turn sprawls of static and clouds of sound into driving, long-distance earworms. Greensboro's Jenny Besetzt, meanwhile, interprets New Order on a budget, mixing bouncing pop and shambling rock in unequal measures. From Richmond, White Laces seem to bleed through their mix of simple songs and outsized arrangements, a pairing that suggests a garage rock band suddenly aiming for an arena slot between Muse and U2. Remember the enthusiasm and entreaty of the first Twilight Sad releases? Think that, just minus the accent. $5/9:30 p.m. —Grayson Currin
08.10 95 LIVE with DJ PREMIER @ FIVE STAR
This is your chance to tell legend and icon DJ Premier one more time that he and rapper Nas need to finish the full-length album that at least some of us have been imagining—for nearly two decades, mind you—as a mythical panacea for hip-hop music. Here's your chance to plead with the Gangstarr producer about how that dream collaboration would beckon little, black baby angels wearing gold chains and shell-toed Adidas shoes down from the heavens and into the streets, where they would undoubtedly rescue the hood and deliver salvation to every single speaker in the world. Here's some advice: Give up your hopes. That dream project seems even more improbable given the recent release of Nas' Life Is Good, devoid of any Premo beats. Instead, simply bask in the presence of a phenomenal producer, hard at work on the ones and twos for all of your dance and nostalgia needs. These monthly 9th Wonder/True School parties have gained a formidable reputation for furnishing Raleigh's nightlife with an urban halo. Tonight, with the addition of a Gangstarr sound saint, the light should be most radiant. —Eric Tullis
08.10 PHATLYNX @ CASBAH
Phatlynx is neither a brand of breakfast sausage nor a reference to the girth of any of its members. Instead, it's a local quartet that keeps the spirit of legendary surf guitarist and North Carolina native Link Wray alive. Featuring an all-star band of Cave regulars, they cover a variety of Wray standards—and others, as evidenced by their sterling take on blues classic "C.C. Rider" at last year's Elvisfest. It's lively, fast-moving music that bears a resemblance to multi-instrumentalist Chris Bess' band Killer Filler in its preference for both instrumentals and greasy grooves. How better to spend a Friday happy hour? Free/5 p.m. —Chris Parker
08.10 JOHN HOWIE JR. & THE ROSEWOOD BLUFF @ AMERICAN TOBACCO
At least in my mind, there are two ways to see a band such as John Howie Jr. & The Rosewood Bluff—in a Blues Brothers-style roadhouse, with the chicken wire and all, or on an outdoor stage. This show, thankfully for those who don't care for flying beer bottles, takes place at the latter. Howie's distinctive honky-tonk baritone and perpetually heartbroken lyricism make his music an essential North Carolina sound. With his band's rhythmic punch and pedal steel wail ringing out over Durham's tradition-happy American Tobacco Campus—and with this show put on by WUNC, one of North Carolina's largest public radio stations, to boot—Howie seems to have found a balance between modern, road-tested country-rock and respectful rootsiness. Free/6 p.m. —Corbie Hill
08.10 JOHNNY RAWLS @ PAPA MOJO'S ROADHOUSE
Mississippi native Johnny Rawls seems to have been born into the blues. During the last 60 years, the charged guitarist and singer has cut quick licks through and inserted a confident soulman croon into sophisticated, horn-abetted R&B. He's also worked as a record label owner, a lead man, a supporting singer, a producer, an arranger and a touring machine, a testament to his status, as he put it with the title of his April offering, as a Soul Survivor. If you enjoyed Solomon Burke's decade of resurgence, Rawls' combination of swagger and charm offers a similar avenue to romance and redemption. Tonight, he's backed by Mel Melton & the Wicked Mojos, a house band worth stopping in for. $12–$15/9:30 p.m. —Grayson Currin
08.11 TOM MAXWELL @ THE CAVE
He's the man who acquainted us with "Hell," so of course we have a warm spot in our hearts for Tom Maxwell. Sharing a passion for jazz swing and quirky pop, he was once an important part of the Squirrel Nut Zippers. After an acrimonious split that included a lawsuit, Maxwell moved into commercial and soundtrack work. Last year, he returned to the live music mold with a striking album inspired by a divorce and his son's battle with leukemia. Just like Maxwell's tastes, the resulting Kingdom Come is all over the place, but it's generally smart and heartfelt enough to transcend genre. Free/10 p.m. —Chris Parker
08.11 DISCOVERY @ KINGS
Discovery has kept the summer bouncing with a broad selection of reputable guest DJs, all musical parvenus kept in-season by the continued riches of dance music integration.This go-round, they're keeping things less enterprising but just as stirring, under the direction of local groove pushers Dirty Gypsy and Thien.Consider this to be the smoke before the blaze at the end of August, when Barcelona bass-appropriator Sinjin Hawke makes a stop in Raleigh during his North American tour. Discovery always finds a way to turn the night into a raving, pithy party; don't expect an exception. Stage residents Nixxed and BLNGxBDGT also join the mix. $5/10 p.m. —Eric Tullis
08.15 CHELSEA WOLFE @ CAT'S CRADLE
Apokalypsis, Chelsea Wolfe's 2011 LP, ends with several minutes of disconcerting drone. With a spacious mix of hollow tones that may be vocals but may be feedback, too, it's a confusing stretch that closes on a frightened, frightening half-whisper: "What's happening to me?" Wolfe's blend of vulnerability, haunted darkness and animalistic defiance gives her folk-doom the intensity of metal without the need for a crushing mix, or even high volumes. Unknown Rooms: A Collection of Acoustic Songs, due out in October, bears fascinating promise, considering we've already seen the respectable level of anxiety Wolfe can summon with electric timbres. With post-metal sluggers Russian Circles and Marriages. $10–$12/8:30 p.m. —Corbie Hill
08.14 ALL YOUR SCIENCE @ MOTORCO
It's been two years since Durham's All Your Science has played a traditional venue. The duo's own record of shows, listed on its website, reveals a string of art gallery engagements and house parties, all the way back to an April 2010 Pinhook show. Before that, so many of the rooms bear names like The Space and Bull City Headquarters, speaking to All Your Science's intractable and traceable roots in Durham's DIY culture, back before there were many rooms to play in the Bull City. Still, All Your Science was finding places to play.
From petroleum-averse drummer David "Z-Man" Zielinski's homemade trap kit, designed to fit in a knapsack for ease of bike transport, to Lu Lubenstein's uncluttered, clarion guitar tone, there's something homemade and simple to the constituent elements of this band. But the simplicity ends there; the often-instrumental arrangements range from celebratory electric bluegrass and noiseless Sonic Youth-isms to the occasional darkly poetic piano number.
All Your Science is a band that belongs at a house show, as a room with no stage boundary is the right fit for these intimate art-rock sketches. Yet All Your Science ought to do well at Motorco, if for no other reason than to show the unaware that, yes, a proudly homemade tradition is alive and well in Durham. With Mugen Hoso. Free/8 p.m. —Corbie Hill
08.11 JEFF CRAWFORD & FRIENDS @ SAXAPAHAW RIVERMILL
When not shepherding talent at his recording studio Arbor Ridge or writing sunny pop-rock tunes of his own, you might find Jeff Crawford guiding believers as the minister of music at the Gathering Church. That double-duty as local tastemaker and spiritual fellow has made for solo and church projects alike; both brim with warm harmonies and a laid-back Americana essence. In church, that sound means old hymns ratcheted up with Tom Petty grooves. In solo sessions, it makes for openhearted lyrics bolstered by assured hooks. For this Farmers Market series, the crowd will get a taste of both.
"Heather LaGarde from Saxapahaw has talked to me about getting my solo music out there for a while, and then asked about the Hymns project, so we decided to combine the two," explains Crawford. The band will present two sets—one of solo material and one featuring tunes from the aforementioned Hymns from the Gathering Church record, an album of old favorites reinterpreted by local musicians, both skeptics & saved.
"I've been wanting to play a solo set out there since we did one with Mandolin Orange a few years ago," Crawford says. "I like playing early and outside." Free/6 p.m. —Ashley Melzer