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The guide to the week's concerts 

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This week's guide contains:

YES, PLEASE: En Serenade, Bobby's Fever, Enloe Mix Dance Party, Merch Holiday Party, Winter Reggae Jam, Franz Fjodor, Chuck Johnson

VS.: Edwin McCain Band vs. anything else after Christmas


click to enlarge Bobby's Fever - PHOTO BY LIZ VITALE
  • Photo by Liz Vitale
  • Bobby's Fever


Chapel Hill quintet En Serenade plays energetic, hook-laden pop-punk that leans toward the power-pop end of the spectrum, much like We The Kings, Cartel or All-Time Low. They're not as muscular as Greensboro mates Farewell (though they apparently boast a former member and call their old label, Forsaken, home), preferring soaring mid-tempo, multitracked vocals, shiny, chiming guitars and swooning emo ballads preoccupied with girls. They've endured several lineup changes and are already back in the studio working on a follow-up to their solid debut EP, The After Party. LA transplant Bobby Lars' nascent act, Bobby's Fever, plies a jangly, often acoustic-driven folk-punk sound. Also, Supervision. $5/ 10 p.m. —Chris Parker


It's an informal holiday reunion for graduates of Raleigh's Enloe High School, but, even if you didn't fly with the Eagles, plenty of reasons remain for adding this date to your calendar. Enloe alum Carter Gaj, who fronts the terrific vintage pop express Max Indian and moonlights in The Love Language, performs a solo set, while soul-loving crate digger Jason Perlmutter spins alongside Breniecia Reuben (DJ Luxe Posh). Plus, Viswas Chitnis, the area sitar hero who used to lead the fantastic Mothlight, premiers his new band, The Family (and yes, he knows that's been used before): "It sounds like ELO and Elton John feel-good '70s stuff. It's going to be a real good time," he says. And if you're looking for music on Christmas Day, Chitnis will be playing his regular gig at The Mint on Franklin Street throughout dinner, too. 9 p.m. —Grayson Currin

click to enlarge 12.23mushearingaid_merch.gif


A holiday party with tons of tradition—ho hum, right? Well, this one happens to be steeped in rituals besides popcorn on a string and sickly punch. Each year, local T-shirt magnates and designers The Merch put on a throwdown with a new shirt created just for the party, tons of art in the form of stickers and posters, and stocking-rocking dance jams. This year, they enlisted DJ One Duran, well known to many around here as a seasoned party spinner and co-host of the bar Hell's storied sweaty soirees. It's one tradition refusing to go stale. Free/ 9 p.m. —Chris Toenes

click to enlarge Crucial Fiya
  • Crucial Fiya


We have too few chances to catch local reggae artists in their element, even as they continue to stretch out in what remains a very pliable genre. This year, one of the best opportunities comes late enough with this lineup of riddim makers. Dub Addis and Crucial Fiya know the landscape of vocal roots reggae well. Arif, of The Anchants, offers connections to the Virgin Islands quarter of reggae and Caribbean rhythms. $8-$10/ 9 p.m. —Chris Toenes

click to enlarge 12.23_mushearingaid_franzfj.gif


The Netherlands-born, Berlin-based sound artist Walter Jaspers performs in a variety of experimental outfits, but he arrives on this American tour as Franz Fjodor, a solo project that moves between eerie, still musique concrète, wonderfully opaque drones and occasional blasts of tightly controlled harsh noise. This is a rare fringe Nightlight bill that doesn't cram a half-dozen acts into an evening, but Jaspers seems capable with enough modes that variety shouldn't be a problem. Jubel Jenkins opens with his attempts at new folk standards. 9:30 p.m. —Grayson Currin

click to enlarge chuck.jpg


Longtime Triangle musician Chuck Johnson—at one time or another, a member of Spatula, Shark Quest, Pykrete, Idyll Swords, Ivanovich and let us not forget the two-man noise bust-up Oh My God, I Just Had the Most Amazing Year—recently completed his MFA at California's Mills College. He studied in its pioneering electronic music program, but, as he writes from the west, "I've been heavily focused on reviving and expanding my solo guitar repertoire, so I am very excited about this." The "this" is a solo homecoming show, preceded by Nervous Creep, "the new existential jug band" of Zeke Graves and Crowmeat Bob Pence. Phil Blank and Jordan Hutchinson tap into the klezmer repertoire as Soup. After the show, expect a dance party. $5/ 9:30 p.m. —Grayson Currin



From: Greenville, S.C.
Since: 1990
Claim to fame: Radio hit "Solitude," which describes a state preferable to ever hearing this tepid pap again

Edwin McCain was sort of a package deal with Hootie & the Blowfish, who recommended the husky songwriter to Atlantic, presumably to ensure they'd never be known as the lamest artist to be played regularly on '90s radio. His laconic, generic folk-rock is polished and sterile enough to have recently emerged from an autoclave, with sentimental lyrics that sport the emotional sophistication of a Jeff Foxworthy joke. It's the Black Label of musical entertainment, a product so watery and devoid of character, you're almost unaware you're drinking it. While perhaps preferable to two hours of white noise, there's the danger your senses will become so dulled you'll forget to (mouth) breathe. Paul Freeman opens, if you're there. At LINCOLN THEATRE. $20-$25/ 8 p.m.



From: Within your reach, driving distance or imagination, or via psychotropic drugs
Since: Time immemorial
Claim to fame: Providing more intellectual stimulation than paint drying/ grass growing

There are certainly people for whom the blandest, least challenging music will do. They put the same effort into discovering good new music that conservative bloviates put into expanding upon that whole "tax-and-spend liberal" critique. So don't they have something better to do with all the time they save by avoiding sharpening their musical sensibilities? Isn't there some commercial or old episode of Medium they haven't seen? A post-Christmas sale at the Dollar Store? An advertising flier they haven't read? It's not difficult to find adult contemporary-oriented roots music as pedestrian as Edwin McCain. If you're pleased this easily, why pay to be entertained at all? Turn on the radio. Eat some ice cream. Enjoy your solitude. Save your money: We hear it's a recession out there. —Chris Parker

click to enlarge Carter Gaj
  • Carter Gaj

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