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The guide to the week's concerts 

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This week's guide contains:

YES, PLEASE: Yahzarah, Lonnie Walker, Fight Amp, Patty Hurst Shifter, Bombadil, Order, Justin Townes Earle, Jon Mueller

EH, WHATEVER: Stereolab/ Atlas Sound

VS.: The Juan MaClean vs. Ratatat

VS.: Lucinda Williams vs. The Felice Brothers




By far, Shirlette Ammons (Mosadi Music) and Dana Williams (Yahzarah/Purple St. James) have been Durham's leading soul-flower chanteuses for the past several years. One has been refining her poetry licks and playing regionally with her band, Mosadi Music, while the other has been touring the country promoting her new LP, The Prelude. Even if their individual brands are distinctly disparate in style and execution, the two are similarly grounded in feminine evocativeness. These two on the same bill is an emotional overload well worth the heartache. $10/ 10 p.m. —Eric Tullis


In the tradition of ramshackle Americana such as Langhorne Slim, but with a strong twist of indie rock iconography, the boys of Lonnie Walker perform their own off-kilter brand that's as wordy as it is inventive. Sharing the bill are Chapel Hill up-and-comers Embarrassing Fruits, who strip indie rock back to its primal elements, allowing a distinctive emotional resonance to come on out. Another installment of WKNC's successful Local Beer, Local Band series. Free/ 10 p.m. —Ian Miller

click to enlarge Fight Amp
  • Fight Amp


New Jersey's Fight Amp used to be called Fight Amputation. Taken together, those names scream volumes about the trio's blend of punk and metal, which is loud, thick and menacing (like an amplifier, fighting) but violent in a miscreant, ripping-you-limb-from-limb way. Expect hardcore ferocity tempered by Melvins-style lumber, with an occasional, altogether unexpected hook slicing through edgewise. The retro-roar of billmates Trap Them sounds like grindcore downshifted slightly and stretched like warm vinyl. Also, Greensboro's Torch Runner, Kernersville's Advent and Boone's Columns. 8 p.m. —Grayson Currin


After writing about Patty Hurst Shifter for close to 10 years, I've officially run out of fresh things to say. The basics: Guitar rock, alternately pop compact and anthemic, made by four friends with great record collections. Write your own snappy preview. Austin Collins, who you could mistake for Steve Earle's kid brother (both musically and physically), opens. $3/ 10 p.m. —Rick Cornell


Remember Dick Van Dyke's character in Mary Poppins, a one-man band who had rigged up a way to play a dozen or so instruments without sounding foolish? Durham's Bombadil similarly packs its international carnival folk with more implements and elements of noise and song than would be expected from a quartet. If the songwriting was shoddy, it'd be a novelty at best (travesty, at worst). Instead, Bombadil is a celebration of all things musical. Triad allies Holy Ghost Tent Revival rage and swing through decades of ragtime and rock influences, while The Proclivities hit the sweet spot between classic and contemporary with well-orchestrated indie pop. $12/ 9 p.m. —Spencer Griffith


On the full disclosure tip, I have to note that former intern and occasional contributor Rich Ivey fronts Whatever Brains, which debuts its slinky, swaggering garage pep tonight. Occasionally tightly wound and sometimes atonal and slightly spacy, the quartet with Vince Carmody (STRANGE), Evan Williams (Grass Widow) and William Evans (Black Castle) sounds pretty great in demo form. Its upcoming three-song EP will mark the first release for Bull City Records. Also, The Invisible Hand and Basalt. $3/ 10 p.m. —Grayson Currin


Perhaps having a legacy like Justin Townes Earle's engenders an appreciation for forbearers. Whatever the cause, The Good Life, the debut by Steve Earle's progeny, smartly captures traditional sounds from honky-tonk and Bakersfield country to ambling blues-folk, fueled by Justin's strong, evocative vocals. Austin's Dedringers can kill you with a country rawk stomp, or beguile you with delicate acoustic folk. $10/ 7 p.m. —Chris Parker

click to enlarge Jon Mueller
  • Jon Mueller


Jon Mueller is a Wisconsin-based improviser and composer who uses drums and electronics to create exhausting, involving audio environments. His work with Collections of Colonies of Bees milks triumph from Motorik mechanics, and his recent solo work on

Metals, a concept-splintering solo drum album, employs heavy metal drumming as a template for minimal composition cranked to 11 on every scale. Tonight, he plays with Jason Kahn, an American-born, European-based sound designer who uses percussion and synthesizers. Together, they create drones of flickering gray, dim, insistent hums rising into and through one another, forming amorphous matrices that envelope as they evolve. Expect to be swept into a sound you'll struggle to identify and define. Electronicist Tomas Phillips, new to the area after landing a teaching job at N.C. State, opens. 9 p.m. —Grayson Currin


click to enlarge Stereo Lab
  • Stereo Lab


Folks perpetually bow at the feet of increasingly monotonous and uninventive Stereolab records for the same reason they blankly defend Wes Anderson films: The material is mildly exotic (French vocals? Indian actors? Yes!), meaning its different enough to make one feel cultured (a vintage synthesizer? a John Coltrane joke? All right!) but predictable and safe enough to defer paroxysms of, like, thought (I hope you've never gone too existential on Mr. Anderson or taken Stereolab's claims about influence and inspiration too seriously). Chemical Clouds, Stereolab's latest, is still nice, textured and pretty, but when's the last time this band did something... provocative? Leave that up, maybe, to Bradford Cox, who seems to have finally found something special on Deerhunter's forthcoming third LP. Let's see if that carries to the stage with his Atlas Sound tonight. $17/ 9:15 p.m. —Grayson Currin


FROM: New York
SINCE: 2002
CLAIM TO FAME: Robot punker turned neo-disco producer

When John MacLean's band Six Finger Satellite folded, he dropped out of music for a bit, but he e ventually came back to focus on the synthetic pulse that lay underneath much of that band's muscular work. His friend and SFS sound engineer James Murphy (now of LCD Soundsystem) encouraged his playing with dance beats, and MacLean was soon laying down long-form electronic tracks that embraced both his love of weird cyber-funk and house music's legacy. SFS had incorporated the robotic nature of electronica into rock idioms. When MacLean re-emerged, he was strengthened by synthesizers and mixers, a one-two punch against any would-be sluggers. DFA label-mate Holy Ghost opens. At LOCAL 506. $10/10 p.m.


FROM: Brooklyn, N.Y.
SINCE: 2001
CLAIM TO FAME: Daft Punk Lite instrumentals

Guitarist Mike Stroud and synthesizer player/producer Evan Mast have a distinct sound: guitar rock that harkens to '80s metal while fairly mild keyboard overlays attune it to dance mobility. But the duo's strengths rely heavily on the knowledge of irony, just like its remixes of classic hip-hop records in which they Ratatat-ize songs as classic rock/ Muzak hybrids. If French clubbers Justice remain the current heavyweight champs of this backwards-glancing aesthetic, Ratatat shall remain bantams with a very young, feverish crowd egging them on. The Juan Maclean rolls with a "The" in front because he's a force to be reckoned with. Those who made Ratatat's show a sellout better recognize. At CAT'S CRADLE. 9:15 p.m. —Chris Toenes


FROM: L.A. by way of Louisiana
SINCE: 1978
CLAIM TO FAME: A songwriter's songwriter

If peer acknowledgment is the barometer, then Lucinda Williams' self-titled breath-of-brilliant-air third release—the aural equivalent of a leather jacket hanging on a bedpost, a book of poetry peeking out of the pocket—might just be the best roots-rock album ever. By my count, 9 of its 11 songs have been recorded by other artists, a list that ranges from Mary Chapin Carpenter, Johnny Rodriguez and Patty Loveless to the Silos, Tres Chicas and Tom Petty. Williams has, of course, gone on to make a host of other records, including the brand new Little Honey. But Lucinda Williams remains her career high point, and a genre landmark. At MEMORIAL AUDITORIUM. $30-$35/ 7 p.m.


FROM: NYC by way of the Catskills
SINCE: 2006
CLAIM TO FAME: Chicken coops and ethereal country-folk

If choosing the right influences is the measuring stick, then the Felice Brothers' self-titled breath-of-Dust-Bowl-air third release—the aural equivalent of a vintage accordion with a shotgun leaning against it, a book of poetry resting on top—might just be the best roots album of 2008. The record's 15 songs recall the lofty likes of, to quote Allison Stewart in No Depression, "Basement Tapes-era Dylan and Ghost of Tom Joad-era Springsteen." And when you factor in that the brothers (James, Ian and Simone, joined by non-bro bass player Christmas) grew up just outside Woodstock, N.Y., of course you need to add Music from Big Pink to the mix. Fellow old soul, former Verbena frontman and Felice-in-law A.A. Bondy opens. At LOCAL 506. $10/9:30 p.m. —Rick Cornell


click to enlarge 09.24mushearingaid_oscarbeg.gif


The members of the DeConto family have been playing music together for more than a decade, but only recently have they brought their folk-meets-funk sound to local venues as Oscar Begat. Jesse DeConto, the band's bassist and singer, moved to Carrboro about four years ago. His brother Marco, sister Katelyn and dad Ron followed. Eventually, they drafted violinist Chris Carmichael and keyboardist Jay Heinz into the band.

The sextet is getting a foot in the local scene with its second show at The Cave. They'll join Gambling The Muse and The Pneurotics in a benefit dubbed Drinks for Darfur, which will raise money for Darfur support organization Tents of Hope. While the band maintains it's not specifically political, Oscar Begat recognizes the influence of social issues on daily life: "Our songwriting tends to come from more personal experiences, but those experiences often have political implications," says Jesse. "The least we can do is play some rock 'n' roll and drink some beer." 10 p.m. —Bryan Reed


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