Though singer-songwriter Charlie Parr is a multi-instrumentalist and a consistent collaborator, his best work comes when he's alone, crowded behind an aged National resonator guitar so that his beard forms a drape at the top of its body. From that position, Parr emerges as one of the most wonderful players and voices in the folk music landscape. His touch on the strings is incandescent but anxious, the blues delivered with astonishing grace. And his voice is one of wisdom, with a just-perceptible air of hard-won, gruff insight. Parr is a pool of old American standards, but his originals are reliquaries of images and memories, where worry for the future is braced by the steady lead of a master storyteller. Asheville bluegrass normalizers Town Mountain headline. Don't let that prevent you from seeing one of the land's absolute best Americana advancers. Friday, Dec. 13, at The Pour House. $12–$15/10 p.m.
Dax Riggs is a bluesman who has lived through phases of stoner metal and thrash and is not afraid to let that personal pedigree shadow his current work. Supported by a spartan backing of second guitar and rudimentary bass, Riggs drags his tar-stained voice through tales of formidable darkness and depression. His guitar playing starts with the Delta blues and ends with doom metal, meaning his knife-thin riffs are rusty and brittle, flaking in the presence of electric amplifier volume. When once-important heavy metal folks (Riggs was the force behind Acid Bath) regress into folk idioms, the results are often toothless and plain. Riggs' solo material remains savage and damaged, transmissions from a misanthrope who just needed to turn down. With Stella Lively. Wednesday, Dec. 18, at The Maywood. $10–$12/9 p.m.
Jerome, Jeff Zagers
Lazy Magnet is the preferred recording name of Jeremy Harris, a keyboard-and-beat machine explorer who pivots between subtly shifting drones and playfully kaleidoscopic rhythm sequences at will. As though Lazy Magnet's output weren't diffuse enough, Harris, a recent Chapel Hill transplant, has just begun to make florid electronica under the name Jerome. This gig is the release party for an excellent new 12" of driving techno bliss, just out on Atlanta upstart CGI Records. These complementary tunes balance Harris' direct and diffuse impulses well, with thrilling four-on-the-floor passes that step down into rumbling bass workouts and, in moments of pure heat, back up again. Georgia's Jeff Zagers is a saxophonist, drummer, crooner, producer and keyboardist who often folds all of those skills into sets of surreal smoothness. He opens. Also DJs NST Boots, Leafy Greens and Archelli. Friday, Dec. 13, at Nightlight. 9:30 p.m.
Borrowed Beams of Light
Of the 13 tracks on the excellent second album by Borrrowed Beams of Light, On the Wings of a Bug, only the last song breaks the four-minute mark. That economy stems largely from the dual impulses of frontman Adam Brock: He's got the power-pop punch to write a tune as infectious and inescapable as the title track and the experimental wonderment to nest little melodies inside ruptured dream machine expanses, too. He keeps these proclivities largely discrete, though, resulting in music that provides immediacy and obscurity in equal, if separate measures. With Naked Naps and Typefighter. Friday, Dec. 13, at Slim's. $5/9 p.m.
Whitey Morgan & the 78s
Whitey Morgan's image is a double-edged marketing solution: He's a brawny, tattooed guy clad in denim, leather and black, with a hirsute visage that suggests he's just rolled off the set of Sons of Anarchy. Coupled with his race-baiting or race-teasing name, it's a look that appeals to those looking for a honky-tonk savior but perhaps intimidates those looking for something a bit less specific. But Morgan's music is mostly harmless if heartbroken tales of drinking and singing through the hurt. He's often hilarious, too, a self-aware storyteller who plays his weaknesses as punch lines and delivers his beliefs like credos. And his band offers strong and steady support for the big fellow up front, adding finesse to his plainsong country tenor. With Jonathan Parker & the Bel-Airs and Eric Strickland & the B-Sides. Sunday, Dec. 15, at Lincoln Theatre. $10–$13/8 p.m.
Daytona unites three former Chapel Hill musicians who started a band of pop-focused expatriates after separate New York migrations. Though Jose Boyer might best be known for the garage rock verve of The Gondoliers (here) and Harlem (there), this new act sidesteps simple bluster for music that's strangely effervescent and intricate. Rhythms unequally distilled from Africa, South America and indie rock shape an oblong chassis for these high harmonies and bright guitars. Recorded by Lost in the Trees frontman Ari Picker, these songs bear subtle signs of his rather baroque style, with surprising flourishes—acoustic textures, auxiliary percussion, arched dynamics—adding depth to what might've been fun but forgettable rock bursts. With Butterflies and Ryan Gustafson. Sunday, Dec. 15, at The Pinhook. $6/8 p.m.
Sinister Haze, Demon Eye
Richmond trio Sinister Haze creeps through torpid doom metal, with thick smoke rolling off each foreboding hook and over every knotty solo. Brandon Marcey also plays in Virginia's great Cough, but this new act is more pliable, with shifty rhythms that allow for psychedelic side trips. Demon Eye is named for Deep Purple and in love with Black Sabbath. Their hangman riffs and economic refrains are willfully basic, but their verve has turned their old sound into one of the Triangle's most enjoyable and guileless new bands. Durham's new Corpse Mountain opens. Thursday, Dec. 12, at Nightlight. $5–$7/9:30 p.m.
With the last line of Saltwater, the second album from his revolving-membership Brazos, Martin Crane asks a salient question of his band's lithe rhythms and polite melodies: "Can you tell me from the crowd?" he poses against a backdrop of tidal piano arpeggios and gossamer acoustic guitar. This existential lament is about more than the modern recording industry, of course, but it is an apropos exit for an act that shares touchstones with The Walkmen and Local Natives, Vampire Weekend and Dirty Projectors. At least structurally and sonically, Brazos' mostly swiveling indie pop does little to differentiate itself from peers, the addition of tropicalia and Afropop beats notwithstanding. But Crane is a careful and considered lyricist, an image-rich philosopher always at the brink of destruction and redemption. For the listener not instantly repelled by Brazos' contemporary fixations, those thoughts are an adequate, intriguing fingerprint. With Ski Lodge. Saturday, Dec. 14, at Local 506. $8–$9/9 p.m.
Shark Quest, Zen Frisbee
The nasty scuzz and wily antics of Zen Frisbee could barely contrast more with the elegant instrumentals and refined presentation of Shark Quest. Both bands, though, hinge on long-running Chapel Hill lineages, with brothers Laird and Kevin Dixon joined by different but related pals in each act. They'll share the stage—and members—for this family-and-friends holiday pairing. Friday, Dec. 13, at The Cave. $5/10 p.m.
Knurr and Spell, Ruscha
This four-band bill gathers disparate locals—two very new and two that just don't get out too much. Led by Sean Parker, Knurr and Spell makes its debut with nervy, coruscating indie rock that suggests some strange, bejeweled cross between Joy Division and 764-Hero. They're joined by fellow upstarts Lakes & Woods, featuring members of North Elementary and Free Electric State. Ruscha renders badass instrumentals that zig and zag from metals both sludgy and mathematical, while Robes makes endearing electro-pop that is slight by design. Saturday, Dec. 14, at Nightlight. $5–$7/9:30 p.m.
Jessica Hernandez & the Deltas
With her brassy voice, her aggressive theatricality and her sufficient hooks, there seems little doubt that Detroit's Jessica Hernandez can be a star. Just don't expect it to be much more than one of the shooting sorts. She's an Americanized Amy Winehouse, with twists of country purr and blues lamentation wrapped inside her soul-rock coils. It feels mostly like heavy affectation, though, a put-on meant mostly to draw the spotlight. With New Town Drunks and Nick White. Thursday, Dec. 12, at Local 506. $8–$10/8:30 p.m.
Chris Isaak Holiday Tour
Where the fuck is Harry Connick Jr.'s Christmas tour? Tuesday, Dec. 17, at Carolina Theatre. $55.40–$132.50/8 p.m.