Hot 8 Brass Band
With an array of horns and a squadron of lockstep percussion, The Hot 8 Brass Band rejuvenates the folk music of their native New Orleans. Indeed, the members of the band grew up admiring the second-line statesmen of their city, sneaking around to catch sets by the likes of the Rebirth Brass Band. As drummer Samuel "Lil Sammy" Cyrus admitted in a 2009 interview, he and his pals pretended to play second-line music with the same enthusiasm that many kids bring to basketball or video games. "We used to walk around the neighborhoods every day like with boxes, make little straps, poke holes in the boxes and just walk around the neighborhood playing music, faking like we're playing something," he remembered, laughing.
They're not faking it anymore, though: Milwaukee Fat, a new two-sided single on brazen British label Tru Thoughts, stacks the horn harmonies and embattles the steady consonance with the slightly psychedelic chug of funk guitar and horn solos that venture into the blues before rising back to join the party. They're sassy, too, overrunning the typical choruses with lyrics about food and smoke and sheer celebration.
And make no mistake that this music concerns joie de vivre. After watching their native wards be destroyed by Hurricane Katrina and having outlasted the gun-related deaths of several members, the Hot 8 serves now as an ebullient and urgent emissary of its city, lifting both horns and spirits at once. Wednesday, June 5, at The Pour House. $12–$15/9 p.m.
Brian Chippendale has long created massive soundworlds with minimal means. In infamous scuzzmonsters Lightning Bolt, for instance, Chippendale and Brian Gibson created tidal paroxysms of belligerent rhythm and tone with bass and drums. At their best, they emitted great big bursts of neon light from a tiny, congruent core. With the Bolt moving at less-than-lightning speed the last few years, Chippendale has trimmed his approach once again as Black Pus, a solo project that uses his manipulated voice, bruising drums and a bass-tone oscillator to create and deftly control the impression of chaos. All My Relations, Black Pus' debut for Thrill Jockey, plunks strains of Afrobeat, pop, hip-hop, harsh noise and old-fashioned rock 'n' roll in a rusty-blade blender. The alchemy is propulsive but not pedantic, like a party that throws itself. With Baby Aspirin DVD and Flesh Wounds. Thursday, May 30, at Kings. $8–$10/9:30 p.m.
In Red Collar, Jason Kutchma sang rock 'n' roll anthems about the constant struggle for self-reliance in a world of routines and bosses, responsibilities and machines. Quit your job and start a band, he insisted both in songs and deeds. (The members famously quit their largely stable jobs to hit the road hard.) Red Collar's output has slowed, but Kutchma continues to live his creed under his own name and with his alternately rollicking and smoldering Five Fifths. He's now releasing two versions of a 10-song set called Sundown, USA, a mix of melancholy reflections and horizon-line hopefulness played solo on one album and with the newly aggressive Five Fifths. As a songwriter and bandleader, Kutchma has remained interesting because he's held fast to that ideal of independence—start with strong songs, and let them work their wonder. Wednesday, June 5, at Duke Gardens. $10–$12/7 p.m.
Patty Griffin's voice is instantly identifiable yet incredibly versatile. During the last two decades, she's pushed toward contemporary folk rock (1000 Kisses) and high into gospel (Downtown Church), deep into soul ("Heavenly Day") and alongside rock 'n' roll royalty (she's part of Robert Plant's Band of Joy). Her latest, American Kid, offers a lovely amble that reveals country roots and flirts with an eclectic mix of accouterments. Scott Miller opens. Saturday, June 1, at Haw River Ballroom. $35/8 p.m.
Not unlike Superchunk's Mac McCaughan or The Hold Steady's Craig Finn, Thermals co-founder and frontman Hutch Harris is an unlikely candidate for a men's choir. His voice is singular and warped, pushed from the back of his throat like an articulated bark. It's also one of indie rock's most identifiable and urgent bleats, an instrument perfectly suited for the band's sometimes-sardonic and generally agitated fare. Their latest and first for Saddle Creek, Desperate Ground, offers 10 perfectly coiled doses of their trio force. And Harris, again like McCaughan and Finn, primes the pump for sing-alongs. Pipe opens. Friday, May 31, at Local 506. $11–$13/9 p.m.
The Kingsbury Manx, Midnight Plus One, Ben Davis & The Jetts
In less than two minutes, Carrboro quartet Midnight Plus One delivers on the promise of their song title "Modern Witch." Like Sonic Youth dipped in The Jesus & Mary Chain's devilish honey, they slip sweet, spooky vocals within grooves of formidable distortion and noise—a blend that, if you will, bewitches with danger and drama. One of indie rock's great spectacles of understatement, The Kingsbury Manx tucks compositional complications and lyrical one-liners into resplendent pop tunes. Ben Davis & the Jetts fill the gap between post-punk throb and post-rock grandeur; they headline. Thursday, May 30, at Tir Na Nog. Free/10 p.m.
With Midtown Dickens on indefinite hiatus, the roaming country-rock purview of Loamlands arrives as a welcome salve. Keying on the lived-in voice of Dickens co-founder Kym Register and the dovetailed harmonies of multi-instrumentalist Will Hackney, Loamlands drifts between aching ballads and mid-tempo romps. Live, they boast a band that includes members of Megafaun and Bowerbirds, providing a backbone of bona fides for such a new outfit. Saturday, June 1, at Saxapahaw Rivermill. Free/6 p.m.
Boise four-piece Krystos makes pneumatic thrash, executing its back-and-forth volley of fleet drums and squealing riffs with militaristic precision. It is spirited stuff, revivalist metal lifted anew by rookies who treat thrash like the day's breaking news. Though Itchincide comes from the same northern Norwegian town as Emperor drummer Samoth, they actually favor the swift kicks of Sweden's At the Gates and the arching hooks of European power metal. It's a mix that sometimes solidifies into cheese. The awesome and triumphant Widow opens. Saturday, June 1, at Casbah. $6/9 p.m.
A top-notch assemblage of local players, Killer Filler makes sizzling, economical instrumental rock, where arid guitar lines knife through rich beds of organ and above a rhythm section that deftly balances the need to keep time and pull people toward the dance floor. This will mark the final show of bassist Rusty Miller with the band, but Killer Filler makes music that begs the title of timeless. They won't be stopped. Friday, May 31, at The Cave. $5/10 p.m.
Season of 1000 Colors, the second LP by Winston-Salem's Estrangers, picks up where the first two Love Language LPs left off, with jangle and lilt coated in a pastel rainbow of softened guitar distortion and gently teased harmonies. Carrboro duo Robes makes electronic pop that glows like Hot Chip in 2006 and occasionally hits like Depeche Mode two decades earlier. Greensboro's Drag Sounds open with Velvet Underground love, while Lord Redbyrd spins between sets. Friday, May 31, at Nightlight. 8:30 p.m.
If you'd like to indulge your '90s nostalgia by experiencing the hits of Everclear (not Everlast), Live (without frontman Ed Kowalczyk), Sponge (who sang about "Molly" Ringwald, not ecstasy) and Filter (remember, like Nine Inch Nails, but not?), you could spend $57.85 to witness the Summerland Tour 2013. You could also experience these same tunes by visiting the fledgling online startup, youtube.com, a free service. Friday, May 31, at Red Hat Amphitheater. $27–$57.85/7:30 p.m.
Four years ago, Best Coast, or Bethany Cosentino, pulled the fuzz over our eyes with a set of scrappy singles that perfectly balanced stoner insouciance and charming enthusiasm. Crazy for You, the debut that followed, largely worked the same seesaw. Then she tanked: Last year's The Only Place lifted the distorted scrim to reveal songs with more quirk than craft, with hooks that cracked upon second contact. With Guards, Lovely Bad Things. Saturday, June 1, at Lincoln Theatre. $20–$25/9 p.m.