One of music's great polyglots, Peter Rowan sports a manifest of collaborators and bands, albums and influences that reads like a strange and wonderful map of Americana. Though he's known best either as a progressive bluegrass guy or the anchor of Old and in the Way that wasn't Garcia or Grisman, Rowan has skipped between reggae and rock, roadhouse and instrumental showmanship during the last five decades. He's a link between Bill Monroe and The Grateful Dead, between Bob Marley and Tony Rice.
But Rowan is more than a consistent footnote. As a bandleader, he remains incredibly active, a 70-year-old player prowling through his interests with the tenacity of someone who wants to cover as much ground as a lifetime will allow. Tonight, he arrives with the five-piece Twang an' Groove outfit, an electric unit whose deep backbeat allows Rowan to waltz from the honky-tonk to the dancehall in the space of several meters, belting his blues and yodeling all the way. With Old Habits. Friday, July 12, at Lincoln Theatre. $15–$18/8:30 p.m.
The Distance Is So Big, the third album by Buffalo trio Lemuria, is one of the year's most irrepressible outings. Lyrically, Lemuria pairs an uncloaked sweetness with an undercurrent of cynicism, like two would-be lovers leery of just how this new thing might end. They match that feeling perfectly with their music, which adds surprising shards of dissonance and illogically perfect counter riffs to tunes that bound ahead like Superchunk on their steadiest pogo stick. The record lifts its title from midpoint highlight "Oahu, Hawaii," which spends four minutes building from a half-somber traipse through a post-rock-sized phosphorescence and, ultimately, into a brilliantly complicated power-pop eruption. With Old Flings. Wednesday, July 17, at Local 506. $8–$10/9 p.m.
Savage Knights, What Cheer? Brigade
If a crowd shows up, and if they're not too tired from a weekend of yard work or too aloof from simple unfamiliarity, a show by Rhode Island's What Cheer? Brigade can take on the charm of a circus, the power of a mosh pit, and the fluid intimacy of a hot summer night in a crowded rock club. Nominally a brass band, What Cheer? ties the march-and-dance approach of New Orleans second-line acts to a repertoire of influences that knows no bounds—American blues fire alongside Indian modes, joyous shouts above punishing drums. But they're more than a moving gimmick of volume; their tunes twist into ascendant spires, matching spirit with sound. Savage Knights are a bit more sedate and stripped, but their explorations at the unlikely intersections of funk and skree, soul-jazz and doom-metal are no less enthusiastic. Sunday, July 14, at Nightlight. $5/8:30 p.m.
Listening to the major-label debut by Durham Americana forgers Delta Rae last year, I couldn't help but wonder what had happened to The Duhks. Long before Delta Rae applied unbridled rock stunts to vaguely roots-based songs, Winnipeg folk hybridists The Duhks seemed poised for stardom by pushing a similar combination of country-rock, soul and pop, led by the sort of bracing vocals that suggested bigger stages. They'd galvanize the edges with a little Cajun music or a bluegrass run, pushing toward the mainstream by making music that accepted its rules and then challenged them. They haven't made a new record in five years, while Delta Rae's own hollow anthems have pushed them to late-night television. The Duhks now return with their original lineup and new songs, perhaps ready at last to twist their threads in brighter light. Deep Chatham opens. Saturday, July 13, at North Carolina Museum of Art. $9–$25/8 p.m.
Atlanta four-piece Ponderosa clings to the walls of the same Southern rock time warp that's pushed bands such as My Morning Jacket, Band of Horses and even Alabama Shakes to fame in recent years. Like Band of Horses, they favor a woozy romanticism, with sudden dramatic shifts in the framework; but like My Morning Jacket, they're interested in textures beyond the prototypical rock 'n' roll toolkit, adding layers of reverb, distortion and electronics to embolden their approach. Last year's Pool Party indeed suggested both a late-night aquatic bacchanal and the next day's bleary-eyed come-down, with muted blues serving as the requisite sidecars for overblown excess. With Yip Deceiver. Wednesday, July 17, at Kings. $10/9 p.m.
Lollipops, Naked Gods, Other Colors
With mousey vocals, a ramshackle aesthetic and a sense of momentum that deftly balances rock propulsion and folk drift, young Baltimore trio Other Colors dovetail well with the askance approach of bands that have found a home on Woodsist Records in the last five years. Their latest LP, the excellent Free Thoughts, suggests a lazy afternoon stroll through a cavernous antique store, where each song feels lived-in and lovingly defaced, like a relic plucked off the shelf. The Lollipops headline with their insulin-recommended pop bursts, while Naked Gods—a turbocharged indie rock act with jam band feelings on its sleeve—take the middle. Sunday, July 14, at Slim's. $5/9 p.m.
There's at least a thin vein of sadness lurking within even the most beat-motivated numbers on Wyeth Is, the second LP from Portland, Ore., band Hockey. After a swell of international buzz a half-decade ago and a major-label deal that took the group's kinetic rock only to the threshold of popularity, Hockey split with Capitol Records and spent four years building their follow-up. The test of willpower worked, as Wyeth Is lifts from LCD Soundsystem's daring likability and Phoenix's FM concision. With Saint Motel and SWIMM. Sunday, July 14, at The Pour House. $12–$15/9 p.m.
Widow, Colossus, Argus
Here's a triumvirate of mighty metal revivalism. Raleigh trio Widow are proudly anachronistic troopers, flexing instrumental muscle through thrashing and arching tunes with über-zealous, shout-out-loud refrains. Heed their requests to "take hold of the night." Colossus works a giddy spot between beer-soaked party metal and cloistered sci-fi arcana, all in the name of NWOBHM vivification. Argus visits from Pennsylvania, adding impasses of doom and a truly excellent two-guitar attack to their grandiloquence. Friday, July 12, at The Maywood. $5/9:30 p.m.
Oulipo, Alligator Indian, Body Games
The traveling act on this three-band bill is Alligator Indian, an Asheville group that circles the stagnant waters of chillwave without slipping off the shore and into them. Lovingly blown-out like The Velvet Underground and warped like the guitar pop endemic to New Zealand, Alligator Indian specializes in pop surrealism, unifying eclecticism through chemicals. Oulipo headlines with its hook-heavy and heavily ornate bursts, while Body Games' resplendent if moody electro makes them one of the Triangle's most interesting new acts. Friday, July 12, at Kings. $6/9:30 p.m.
On and off record, Le Weekend operates at various energetic quanta, shifting shapes and gears between handclap pop and eyes-closed tumult as though they're trying constantly to elude threats of contentment and stability. Their best songs are sweet and sour, reminders that every good feeling has its foil. Co-ed Durham trio Stems sulk through and skip across a bed of noise, singing sweet melodies darkly and juxtaposing bounding rhythms with feedback squalls. Friday, July 12, at Local 506. Free/9 p.m.
Bosnian Rainbows, the 10-song debut of the new band of the same name, gets by mostly on flaccid electro-pop; the occasionally airy and otherwise flinty voice of the vaguely gothic Teri Gender Bender sits plunked atop unimaginative beats. But former Mars Volta tinkerer Omar Rodríguez-López is in the band, so none of these songs get far without being fucked with unnecessarily. Buoyant numbers collapse suddenly into dense messes, and shards of noise jut from unexpected places. Maybe next time, the songs will be better than their accessories? With Sister Crayon. Thursday, July 11, at Cat's Cradle. $15/9 p.m.
Toad the Wet Sprocket
After a solid decade of sporadic reunions, Toad the Wet Sprocket has reunited full-time, leaving only The Smiths on most reunion wish lists. Two years ago, they re-recorded their hits so as to regain ownership of the tunes and to remind people they existed. That worked better, at least, than "New Constellation," the first track released from a forthcoming album of the same name. Stuck between Christian camp sing-alongs and the fieriest pits of hell, it celebrates the infinite possibilities of the universe—as affirmed, of course, by this blessed rejuvenation. With Emily Hearn. Wednesday, July 17, at Cat's Cradle. $25–$30/8 p.m..