There's nothing monolithic about Sky Burial, the second full-length offering from Richmond, Va., quintet Inter Arma. It's aggressive, yes. Sometimes oppressively so. It opens, in fact, with an icy black metal blizzard, guitars circling like wolves through the onslaught of blast beats and harsh, croaking vocals. But at the halfway point of album opener "The Survival Fires"—which is five minutes into it—the storm breaks. Chords resonate in open space, and the song propels itself with sparse drumming. The next track is an acoustic piece that feels almost comforting, even as its deliberate pacing casts a foreboding pall. This is as much heavy psychedelia as heavy metal, as much Hawkwind as Darkthrone; yet Inter Arma's wandering tone makes the record not only more varied than many of its peers but also more emotionally nuanced. Beauty succumbs to harsh squalls and vice versa, sometimes within the span of one song. (Granted, they often stretch past 10 minutes.) Doom frequently evokes the inevitable by suggesting we're already there; Sky Burial deepens the horror, reminding us that we're not—but we could arrive at any moment. In the bill's middle slot is Windhand, another Richmond band of doomsayers; they're more focused in their approach, haunting the chapel with lumbering riffs and distant, melodic vocals and bringing doom back to its Black Sabbath origins. Opening are Raleigh sludge-trudgers Horseskull, sprinters by comparison. FRIDAY, JUNE 21, AT SLIM'S. $8/9 p.m.
It's ironic, using psychedelic rock as a vehicle to celebrate sobriety. But here it is: New York's Shana Falana, more than two years sober, marks the occasion with 2012's In the Light EP. An entrancing collection of dense texturing, glassy drones and ethereal vocals, In the Light eschews most of the depressive murk typical of shoegaze, going instead for an uplifting and resonant clarity. Indeed, this is clear-headed dream-pop. Durham's Prisms and Greensboro's Drag Sounds offer contrast with their respective slow motorik smolder and stringy Velvet Underground choogle. SUNDAY, JUNE 23, AT THE PINHOOK. $5/8 p.m.
Airstrip, Shockwave Riderz, Heads on Sticks
Plenty has been said of Airstrip's metal-bred rhythm section and the lumbering heft it adds to the band's dark garage-pop. It's a clear distinction for the band, drawing out the pacing and psych-rock reach. The effect is disorienting, like a bizarro-world Oh Sees who favor depressants to hallucinogens and swelter under Southern humidity. Pittsburgh's Shockwave Riderz cast girl-group dream-pop and retro garage from a mold of clattering synths and skeletal drums, not far removed from Dirty Beaches' Badlands-era rockabilly-scuzz. Openers Heads on Sticks twist dance music pulse through psychedelic corridors, as likely to nudge toward garage-rock hooks as to drop into dub grooves. FRIDAY, JUNE 21, AT THE CAVE. $5/10 p.m.
By the time he reached his mid-30s, Mike Kinsella had played in more underground-favorite rock bands than many people have ever even listened to: Cap'n Jazz, American Football, Joan of Arc, Maritime—and that's just scratching the surface. With Owen, his ostensible solo outfit, Kinsella grants more credence to his songwriting and pop instincts. "Blues to Black," the first single from his forthcoming L'Ami du Peuple, matches a swollen burst of pop-rock rhythms and chiming guitars with Kinsella's low-key vocal, understated in melody and full of dry inflections reminiscent of Jawbreaker's Blake Schwarzenbach. With Slingshot Dakota and Free Time. THURSDAY, JUNE 20, AT KINGS. $12–$14/8 p.m.
Small Black, Heavenly Beat
On their third album, Limits of Desire, Brooklyn's Small Black offer a 10-track smear of synth-driven '80s-baby R&B that suggests the like-minded washes of M83 and Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark in its broad-stroke melody. Naturally, the wide angles on Small Black's music risk fading into background like cinematic stucco, but the sweeping gestures of the band's easygoing pulse and generalist songwriting are more than enough to fill a room. Openers Heavenly Beat are similarly informed by chillwave's swirling reverb and distant vocals, but they enliven the pairing with a generous backbeat. MONDAY, JUNE 24, AT LOCAL 506. $10–$12/9 p.m.
If you had trouble picking sides in the great Veckatimest vs. Merriweather Post Pavilion debate of 2009, your fence-sitting savior has arrived. Offsetting graceful and elegantly arranged pop songs with electronic pulses and squiggles, Philly's Grandchildren offer a remarkably smooth fusion of late-'00s indie rock trends. Raleigh's Wool and Philadelphia's The Fleeting Ends open. (Grandchildren and The Fleeting Ends also play Sunday at The Cave.) FRIDAY, JUNE 21, AT KINGS. $6/9:30 p.m.
Released in January, Yeah Right found Philadelphia's Bleeding Rainbow with a new name (they used to be called Reading Rainbow), a reconfigured roster and a more nuanced and aggressive undertow in their light-haze indie rock. New lead guitarist Al Creedon, flanking founding guitarist Rob Garcia, steers the band into cyclonic Sonic Youth noise sprees to counter Sarah Everton's dream-pop melody behind the mic. With Fat Creeps. FRIDAY, JUNE 21, AT LOCAL 506. $10/9 p.m.
Tall Tall Trees, Prypyat
Last year's sophomore effort Moment transformed New York's Tall Tall Trees. Between banjo-looper Mike Savino's jaunty 2009 debut and its follow-up, he recruited a full band and added more effects to his so-called "space banjo." The result is a batch of comfortably lush psych-pop. Either guise would have fit well with Durham's Prypyat, a deceptively full-sounding pop duo. WEDNESDAY, JUNE 19, AT MOTORCO. $6/8 p.m.
Dax Riggs has come a long way since his days fronting the scabrous and sludgy Acid Bath in the '90s, but he hasn't shed his heavy-rock roots completely. In his solo guise, Riggs strikes a comfortable and accessible balance between Soundgarden grunge and Black Keys blues-pop. Raleigh's Stella Lively opens, cutting strummy pop with haunted roots-rock. MONDAY, JUNE 24, AT THE MAYWOOD. $10/9 p.m.
It's little surprise to discover that Durham R&B singer Kim Arrington also lists playwright and poet among her credentials. As a singer, she boasts an appropriately smooth and sultry voice, citing Jill Scott and Erykah Badu as influences. But she makes a greater impact as a songwriter, relishing turns of phrase and unexpected details, subtle character development and sung dialog. FRIDAY, JUNE 21, AT GOLDEN BELT. Free/6 p.m.
Sponsored by the German label Ruf Records and billed as "Tomorrow's Guitar Heroes," this Blues Caravan showcase presents three young singer-guitarists: Americans Bart Walker and CJ Wilder and Britain's Joanne Shaw Taylor. Their painless blues offer little you haven't heard in the overly polished riffs of Stevie Ray Vaughan, Eric Clapton or their hordes of imitators. With Jamie McLean Band. THURSDAY, JUNE 20, AT THE POUR HOUSE. $8–$10/8 p.m.
Jason Bonham's Led Zeppelin Experience
Proving that the thunder driving Led Zeppelin isn't a genetic trait, the younger Bonham's career highlights include sideman gigs for Foreigner and Paul Rogers well past their primes and, most famously, covering his dad's old band. Tonight, his Led Zeppelin Experience opens for Heart, a Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee and archetype of every dunderheaded "Chicks Who Rock" feature. The Wilson sisters' legacy of Zep-like hits apparently isn't sufficient, so Bonham will join them for an encore set of more sentimentally sapped Zeppelin covers. SATURDAY, JUNE 22, AT TIME WARNER CABLE MUSIC PAVILION. $15–$130/7:30 p.m.
Correction: Shockwaves Riderz are from Pittsburgh (not Philadelphia).