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The guide to the week's concerts 

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This week's guide contains:

YES, PLEASE: Gravel Truck, Born Ruffians, Thad Cockrell, Mary Gauthier, The Reverend Peyton's Big Damn Band, The Pneurotics/ Ponchos from Peru, Iva Bittová

EH, WHATEVER: Bassnectar

VS.: Sole & the Skyrider Band vs. Ill Bill

VS.: Crystal Antlers vs. Deerhoof



Esteemed jangle/ power-pop genius Mitch Easter returns to the Let's Active's catalog in earnest with Gravel Truck, featuring original guitarist Tim Lee (also of Windbreaker). Two decades after the last Let's Active album, the show comes on the heels of a solo release by Easter last year and a tour, his first in 19 years. While his albums' hooks ring louder than the bells of Notre Dame, his guitar playing can be extraordinarily fierce, too, as beauty must have its thorn. While Easter's reprised some of these classic tracks solo, these palms sweat in anticipation of a fully cranked "Last Chance Town." Lee's rawking country psych trio, TL3, opens. $5/ 10 p.m. —Chris Parker


This bill features a pair of intriguing Canadian bands. Toronto's Born Ruffians twitches and shimmies with appealing verve, delivering slinky pop keyed by frontman Luke LaLonde's flitting, acrobatic tenor. Terse and somewhat skeletal, it bears post-punk's herky-jerky imprimatur but to a much more melodic and upbeat result. Rootsy Montreal comrades Plants & Animals' debut, Parc Avenue, ranges widely from dramatic arty-froth to baroque prog and meandering psych-folk. Local act The Huguenots cranks out catchy '60s-inspired mod and garage pop. $10/ 9 p.m. —Chris Parker

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Earlier in his self-made music career, Raleigh's to-Nashville-and-back-again Thad Cockrell traveled under the tag line "Putting the hurt back in country." It could just as easily be "Putting the soul back in country." Think "I Was So Lonesome" from his outstanding second record, Warmth & Beauty. Think "Warm and Tender Love" (a song put on the map by country-soul giant Percy Sledge) from his and Caitlin Cary's Begonias. And while Cockrell's own songs are expertly written, I'd still love to hear him take on Charlie Rich's "Feel Like Going Home." With Seth Hall and Cameron Marion. $8/ 8 p.m. —Rick Cornell


"I never know what people will like or not like" was Mary Gauthier's response years ago when I asked why folks tend to forge such strong bonds with her moody but hopeful post-folk-rock songs. "I just do my best to be honest and then hold my breath and throw the songs out there." Maybe it's the directness of her work—from her lips to our ears (and hearts and guts)—and the special connection that's made when those who catch her songs feel that a songwriter is truly revealing herself through her writing. For more details about this Urban Ministries of Durham benefit, see $8-$20/ 7 p.m. —Rick Cornell


Following the shuffled footsteps of Delta greats Charley Patton and Furry Lewis, The Reverend Peyton's Big Damn Band tours its whirlwind county-blues boogie non-stop. The Indiana-bred trio is stripped to essentials and hell-bent on something or other, hammering fingerstyle acoustic guitar to boom-chick drumming and a helping of washboard scuffle. Despite Southern music's recent desecration with tired rockabilly, predictable alt-country and straight-up tasteless "newgrass," three Hoosiers named Josh, Jayme and Breezy rekindle the Holy Ghost of dirt, dust and grain alcohol with a rich sense of history and a tornado of charm. $10/ 8 p.m. —Rich Ivey


Both Chapel Hill's Pneurotics and Wilmington's Ponchos From Peru have made friends and fans in Durham's quirk-embracing music community, and for good reason: The Pneurotics' meat-and-potatoes Southern rock gets a kick from frontman Rich McLaughlin's jagged, static-draped guitar lines, which zig-zag as welcome aberrations through his songs' straightforward foundations. Meanwhile, the Ponchos bash out K Records-style pop on pawn shop guitars and school band horns with the off-the-cuff charm of initials carved in a park bench. $5/ 11 p.m. —Bryan Reed


Following Laurie Anderson's season-opening presentation of Homeland, Duke Performances summons its second female violin rogue to the stage: Czechoslovakian Iva Bittová prefers short works to Anderson's exhausting thematic atmospheres, letting her Björk-like vocal gymnastics (pretty melodies, teasing bleating, explosive onomatopoeia) bounce against the strings of her violin, alternately bowed, plucked and beaten in paroxysms of inspired extended technique. An accomplished actress, Bittová's stage show is minimal but effective, too, the tiniest gestures and ideas fitting her dynamic music and adding theatrical elements too often missing from such fare. She's also a busy collaborator, having worked with Fred Frith and Bang on a Can, so perhaps we'll luck into something unexpected. Actually, this engagement fills that desire just fine. $5-$30 —Grayson Currin


A perfect bill of two atmospheric acts as fall sets in: Starmount is an all-star Raleigh instrumental ensemble led by producer Greg Elkins. Despite being a professed neophyte pedal steel player, his steel work with Starmount delivers shimmering smears of tonal bliss, around which the backing trio adds rhythm and further nuance. Led by Sara Bell, Regina Hexaphone eases old-country afterglow, Bell's songs treated like tender things meant to be nurtured and set free on quiet ears. 10 p.m. Starmount also plays Slim's Friday, Oct. 24, at 10 p.m. —Grayson Currin


The five-piece Randy Rogers Band plays music that makes you either buy a beer and a bump for the guy on the neighboring bar stool or wrap your arms around whomever you're two-stepping with. Despite a driving beat, emotive guitars and a cutting fiddle, the group doesn't hide the lyrics behind great musicianship. Rogers' simple twang and sincerity lets him yearn without sounding like a wuss and brag without becoming a jerk. Pay $10-12, but bring a few extra bucks in case someone looks like they could use a drink. 7 p.m. —Andrew Ritchey



Oh, noes! Bassnectar, the multimedia project of San Francisco DJ Lorin Ashton, self-proclaims this way: "elements of midtempo breakbeats, big beat, old school hip hop and dub, DnB, glitch, IDM, electronica, death metal, grindcore, punk rock, alternative, folk, swing and jazz." All of this is completely true, of course, except the humdrum whole is less pleasing and more predictable than the sum of its parts. Dude's a hippy-marketed DJ tricking out his trance with funny little samples and unaccomplished effects. So, Kid Koala without soul, Girl Talk without hits or a mainline of energy, basically. With Beats Antique. $12/ 9:30 p.m. —Grayson Currin


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From: Flagstaff, Ariz.
Since: 2005, though Sole's been releasing records since 1994
Claim to fame: Forceful anticon. lyricist and firebrand

Sole is a white, hirsute, provocative and largely sans-hook rapper from Maine who settled in Arizona with his new backing rock band, Skyrider, after a stint in Europe. All this to say, Sole is the sort of emcee who drives people absolutely berzerk, causing some to proclaim that his is not, in fact, "hip-hop" or that he's simply the product of whiny white entitlement. And while Sole could consistently benefit from a strong editor, his storm-and-stress, cum-kitchen-sink sonic aesthetic and his paranoid flurries of words—linking the apocalypse and empty liberals, or his own self-deprecation and the observer's egomania that shapes his output—can hit harder than those of almost all of his peers. Sole's not perfect, and neither are his raps or ideas. By and large, that's part of the reason he matters. At LOCAL 506. $8/ 9 p.m. —Grayson Currin


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From: Brooklyn, N.Y.
Since: 1995
Claim to fame: Former member of Non-Phixion (Ill Bill, Sabac, Goretex and DJ Eclipse), a hip-hop group composed of anti-establishment, Jewish, b-boy knuckleheads,

Ill Bill might be the only white emcee who can get away with a song called "White Nigger." As a first-generation Jewish kid raised in a crime-infested project of Brooklyn, Bill's affinity to groups from Suicidal Tendencies to Boogie Down Productions has long crafted his license to make such political statements on wax. Every Ill Bill record is an exercise in rap warfare, loaded with terse socio-political critiques, conspiracy theories and hip-hop's occasional critique of hedonism and consumption. On his new LP, Hour of Reprisal, it's simultaneously awesome and horrifying how each song sounds like a hardcore hip-hop variation of Carmina Burana. Everything sounds so epically gripping, raw, terrifying and street-wise. Add Sean Price's "punch-you-in your-face-for-no-certain-reason" bravado to the menu, and you might leave the show needing a police escort. Also, M1 Platoon. At CAT'S CRADLE. $12-$14/ 9:30 p.m. —Eric Tullis


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From: Long Beach, Calif.
Since: 2004
Claim to fame: A chaotic, high-intensity live show and much-blogged debut EP

This tussle takes place in the mental wilderness, between the ear hair forests. Writhing guitars slither across rhythmic overgrowth, following relentless hills and valleys like a stoner seeking Doritos. Segueing from bloozy boogie to cymbal-tinkling psych and organ-driven soul-metal, the band's noisy musical goulash sounds more appealing in practice than on paper. Generally encased in a cloud of expressionistic smoke, the band's punky experimentalism and howling vocals put it between noise rock and rocking noise, like Jon Spencer wearing Pissed Jeans and high on Blue Cheer. While buzz-bearing critics could use a cold shower, the O.C. quintet definitely has skillz. At LOCAL 506. $8/ 9:30 p.m.


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From: San Francisco
Since: 1994
Claim to fame: An unconventional, dynamic blend of noise and melody

Deerhoof probably appreciates Crystal Antlers' noisy exuberance, as the band was young once itself. Early albums blend clanging fugues of aggression and sweet, off-kilter, lo-fi pop. Over time the noisy, rudimentary and ramshackle elements receded, leaving disjointed yet tuneful charm, textured with strategically deployed background sounds and oddness. Satomi Matsuzaki's fluttering vocals lend a sweetness to balance its (less frequent) spastic moments. Though still inventive, over 13 albums Deerhoof's developed a recognizable sound, replacing surprise with greater craft. The addition of guitarist Ed Rodriguez produces more rock on its latest, Offend Maggie. Not as spry as a decade ago, but enough to mount some Antlers. With Experimental Dental School and Flying. At CAT'S CRADLE. $12/ 9:30 p.m. —Chris Parker


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