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Music worth leaving the house for

Wednesday, February 1

Armor for Sleep, Boys Night Out,
The Brewery

Unusually atmospheric for an emo-tinged band, New Jersey's Armor For Sleep features some hard-rocking churn, but mostly rely on the dreamy melodicism of their swirling and swooning mid-tempo minor chord arrangements. Ontario's Boys Night Out lean toward the pop side of the emo spectrum, often sounding like a late-'90s alt-rock act. Sold-out/ 7:30 p.m. --CP

Schick Air Guitar Competition,
Local 506

A friend calls it the dog doo face: It's the look on a guitarist's mug when engaged in a particularly emotive solo, the kind of nose scrunch and lip curl that might occur if a Fido surprise was held a couple of inches under your nose. Look for it, as well as windmills and thrown goats, when Schick's search for an air guitar god hits Chapel Hill. Free/10 p.m. --RC

Thursday, February 2

American Aquarium, Josh Small, Yearling, Lincoln Theatre

The American Aquarium musical ideal, as constructed by frontman and songwriter B.J. Barham, applies the principals of Uncle Tupelo as absolute apotheoses: His voice aims at the blunt brunt of Jay Farrar, though his band--drums, bass, keys, viola, guitar--is slowly aiming at the textures of Jeff Tweedy. It's a predictably hit-or-miss formula, with lyrical slabs of teenage-confessional Conor Oberst and willow-weeping Ryan Adams guiding the pen. But their long-in-coming debut, Antique Hearts, is one of the young year's most pleasant surprises, and, on a $3 CD release bill that includes Yearling and Josh Small, it's worth the miss risk. 10 p.m.

Viva La Venus, Out of Orbit, Stratocruiser, MarVell Event Center

The dual harmonies of lady rockers Viva La Venus match up here with the direct-to-the-head pop-rock melodies of OOO and the Stratos, who nod quite affectionately to their power-pop heroes. No extraneous noodling or drum solos allowed.
$4/10 p.m. --CT

Plan B, Mosadi Music, The Library

Plan B continue to get things off their chest, as is the tradition in hip hop and its variants. Their gravelly delivery and postured aggression in spitting lyrics distinguishes them from backpack and pout-faced mope rap. Another face of local hip hop meets the otherworldly Mosadi Music. --CT

Friday, February 3

Early Man, Priestess, The Sword, Local 506

Do your neck exercises and bring your earplugs, because this is a thrash-rific headbanging throwdown. Early Man cops '70s Brit metal gold, channeling Sabbath's Tony Iommi and the ball-busting churn of Judas Priest. Doom metal mooks The Sword were the buzz of last year's SXSW, which they parlayed into a record deal: Imagine if the monkeys in Kubrick's 2001 were banging on the inside of that giant Bit O'Honey bar monolith and it were amplified, forging an irrepressible alien chocolate throb. $6-8/9:30 p.m. --CP

The Machine, Lincoln Theatre

A friend once told me if he had the talent to play in a Pink Floyd cover band, he wouldn't. He would, well, create. Todd Cohen, indeed a drummer for the world's premier Pink Floyd cover band, The Machine, walks the line on a high level. He's a founding and current member of Antony & The Johnsons, the same band that won the coveted Mercury prize this year and who topped many critics' year-end lists with the aching I Am a Bird Now. The great irony, of course, is that most people in attendance for The Machine's set don't know who Antony is and that most people who adore Antony would never consider attendance. Oh, the drama. $13-15/ 10 p.m. --GC

Steady Rollin' Bob Margolin,
Blue Bayou Club

Margolin got his start slinging an axe alongside Muddy Waters in the '70s, and he's hewn close to that line ever since. A mean slide player and technically proficient guitarist, Margolin's workmanlike vocals often fail to capture the passionate emotional grist at the core of the blues, but his fretwork creates its own heat. --CP

bowerbirds, Bickett Gallery

Uncanny phrasings, finger-picked acoustic guitars and natural imagery. Devendra Banhart comparisons will abound for Phil Moore's Bowerbirds, the somewhat-solo project he picked up this year after Ticonderoga released two of the year's finest albums and bowed out. But there's more to this than some freak-folk following: Pathos, gone for a walk. --GC

Transportation, North Elementary, The Cave

Of all the bands on Demonbeach, Transportation make the most sense teaming up with John Harrison and his semi-drugged folk outfit, North Elementary. Come early for the quaint and the woozy, as Harrison and company are sure to deliver those trademark trinkets that float on lazy radio waves, but stay for the yearn 'n' burn rock, as Transportation flip on some amps and offer up some loud lovin'. --RM

Saturday, February 4

Hamell On Trial, Local 506

Brandishing his acoustic guitar with intent to do damage, Ed Hamell isn't your typically mawkish singer/songwriter. His furious strumming underscores lyrics that range from noir tales worthy of Jim Thompson to red-hot blasts of satirical outrage. His latest, Songs for Parents Who Enjoy Drugs, features humorous mediations on sharing your sordid past with the children ("Inquiring Minds") and the right-baiting "Coulter's Snatch," which promises "You take the low road, I'll take the lower road." New Town Drunks pop the top. $10/9:15 p.m. --CP

Broken Fader Cartel, Open Eye Café

Meet this Asheville electronic collective with an itch for the glitch of bent circuits, digital reconstructions, and a sense of humor to extinguish any of the nasty flames of pretense. With a kitchen sink approach, the Cartel keep the beeps and blurt scene free. 8 p.m. --CT

Monday, February 6

Feist, Jason Collett, Cat's Cradle

With a voice reminiscent of the late Minnie Riperton, Canada's Leslie Feist dropped one of the most surprisingly sublime albums of 2005 with Let It Die. Like a disco-lite reverie glistening in gauze and a European folk elegance, it buries secret crushes in gorgeous, understated instrumentation. It's for fans of Broken Social Scene--a band she helped found--and Kings of Convenience--her frequent collaborators--alike. Jason Collett, another member of the BSS satellite world, pops away with textured acoustic anthems, like Sondre Lerche subdued and mellow with old pals up north. $10-12/8:45 p.m. --GC

Tuesday, February 7

John Mitchell's Electric Jam with Twilighter, Local 506

After a promising start last year during which this open stage jam session hosted dozens of slumming area musicians in rare and unusual pairings, the idea lost steam and got dropped from the schedule. Now it's returned, curated by John Mitchell and with help this month from Twilighter, who will lend their equipment and lithe sonic skills as needed to the death-defying, without-a-net chaos.
Free/10 p.m. --CP

Fred Eaglesmith & the Flying Squirrels, The Pour House

"It had a carport, a color TV/ and no place to turn around" sings Fred Eaglesmith about the trailer that a woman in his song "Water in the Fuel" wants to buy in hopes her truck-driving man will settle down. It's a smashing line from a catalog full of 'em, and just one piece of evidence supporting why Eaglesmith's name belongs in the mix, alongside your Robbie Robertsons and Ian Tysons, when discussing Canada's greatest roots/folk songwriters. $15/8 p.m. --RC

Wednesday, February 8

The Cartridge Family, Slim's

In light of the upcoming Indy Music Awards, let's nominate Raleigh's Cartridge Family for "Band We'd Most Like to See Work with Jim Dickinson." The results would sound something like Mott the Hoople's "All the Way to Memphis" had it actually been recorded in Memphis. In the meantime, there's the quartet's Here Come the Rock Stars, one of 2005's most proudly rocking good times on record. --RC

Skeleton Key, The Giraffes,
Kolyma, Kings

As inane lyrics go, Skeleton Key understand the nature of the lock a bit too well. But what they can't say with their pedantic, aggravated poetry, Skeleton Key say with their instruments: A hypnotic growl influenced by hardcore, funk and electronica, they're a punk band undermining the form's simplicity with blips of pop, careening guitar abrasion and whimsical electronics. Ipecac released their last one in 2002. The Giraffes and Kolyma open. $6/10 p.m. --GC


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