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The guide to the week's concerts 

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This week's guide contains:

YES, PLEASE: Jason Webley, Billy Sugarfix, Ryan Gustafson, 12,000 Armies, Veelee, Gross Ghost, Old Bricks, The Old Ceremony, Floating Action, Scientific Superstar, Princess and the Criminals, Heart of Glass, Haiti Benefit, The Lowbots, The Mercators, Bobby's Fever, Bright Young Things, Richard Bacchus, The Entrance Band

EH, WHATEVER: Nick Oliveri

VS.: Grandsons vs. The Farewell Drifters


click to enlarge Jason Webley
  • Jason Webley


Seattle's Jason Webley and Chapel Hill's Billy Sugarfix deserve each other. Both known for their eccentricity in instrument choice (Webley favors an accordion, stompbox and acoustic guitar, while Sugarfix wields the theremin, ukulele and guitar) and endearing onstage quirk and charisma, Webley and Sugarfix mix the sinister and sentimental in song. Webley, for instance, wryly observes the living doing nothing more than biding time as they wait for the end on the gypsy jig "Dance While the Sky Crashes," while on his recent Summer Tempests, Sugarfix writes about the source of his total heartache with the addled obsession of a junkie—he'd pay any price to have her back, even if it takes him down in the end. Those words, though, come in affable, addictive four-minute bursts. 9:30 p.m. —Grayson Currin


With prospects this top-notch, you half-expect an NBA scout or two in the crowd. Ryan Gustafson made the Triangle's great but mostly overlooked country rock record of 2009, Donkey LP. With charms as diverse as they are abundant, Donkey LP is alternately beaten and triumphant, the sort of record that confesses a dark past while advocating for any future at all. Gustafson drags his own weary carcass through a love-and-pills morass on the graceful, fragile folk weeper "Hard Drugs and Long Relationships," but on closer "Sunshine," beneath squealing pedal steel and a springy rhythm section, he finds sudden confidence and solidarity, singing, "Come out to the water/ We'll stand beside the sea/ I will sound a foghorn/ If you come out to me." That arc applies to 12,000 Armies, too, the recording project of Charlotte resident Justin Williams. After a middling 2005 LP, Williams mostly disappeared, but he's now connected with Chapel Hill's vintage pop collective Drughorse. His new tunes swap what once sounded like temerity for assurance, aplomb and an enthusiasm for big sounds recorded on a small budget. Free/ 10 p.m. —Grayson Currin


Between the twisting agility of Veelee's two-piece pop, the sass and sleepiness of Gross Ghost's four-piece garage curios and the drum-damaged canvases of Old Bricks' narrative washes, this bill presents three very different ways to bend songs. Gross Ghost keeps it the simplest here, with galloping rock songs where the standard sounds—guitars, drums, bass—are warped ever so slightly. Through a web of pedals and effects units, Old Bricks shapes its folk rock laments into spectral anthems about survival. And the splendid Veelee takes small songs to big places, shooting melodic fragments through ambitious rhythms and textures and arriving on the other side, the great song still intact. In the morning, Gross Ghost and Veelee head north for a long-weekend tour that takes them to Brooklyn and back. $5/ 10 p.m. —Grayson Currin

click to enlarge Floating Action
  • Floating Action


Some call The Old Ceremony indie rock for the thinking man, which seems slightly redundant. But Django Haskins' urbane manner does match his knack for classic hooks, while the band's orchestral arrangements teem with drama and intensity. Maybe it's that the Chapel Hill quintet approaches indie pop with an arena-size mindset, where bombastic triumphs rub elbows with quiet moments of soul-baring intimacy. Either way, the late-night intellectualism and murky undertones shading the Carrboro outfit's lush textures suit it for late-night listening. Don't miss Asheville's Floating Action translating its fantastically lazy debut—recorded entirely by frontman Seth Kauffman in a lo-fi haze and integrating influences as far-flung as Motown and dub—to the stage. $6-8/ 10 p.m. —Spencer Griffith

click to enlarge Scientific Superstar
  • Scientific Superstar


A trio of female-fronted acts headline this benefit for Girls Rock! NC, a program modeled after the landmark Seattle rock-empowerment-and-education camp. Greenville's Princess and the Criminals make tuneful punk-infused rock, amping up middling tempos with throttled guitar and hot blood. Meanwhile, vocalist Junko Berglund's presence brings an exotic flair to Scientific Superstar's deep-seated grooves. Berglund frequently sings in Japanese, complementing the trio's spooky, swerving off-kilter charms and undulating, tightly wound rhythms. Headliner Heart of Glass is a Blondie tribute band fronted by Girls Rock! NC Development Director Abigail Pearce. $5/ 8 p.m. —Chris Parker


This is just one of many benefits for the earthquake-devastated country of Haiti in the Triangle this week, but it's a fine chance to catch an eclectic mix of Chapel Hill bands, too. The Moaners' two-piece rock is languid and viscous, Laura King's pounding drums breaking over the back of Melissa Swingle's thick, dirty blues guitar variations, while The New Town Drunks—who once fit their name like liquor takes to the shape of a glass bottle or plastic cup—have taken a reflective, resolute turn of late. Also on the bill are the wonderful Kitty Box & the Johnys, Puritan Rodeo, Charles Pettee, HWYL and guitar-maker Terry McInturff. $10/ 6 p.m. Keep an eye on our music blog,, for more Haiti benefits. —Grayson Currin


It's a full evening at The Cave, beginning with Tony Low's The Lowbots. Low counts as a co-founder of well-regarded '80s psych/ power pop act Cheepskates, and he brings a similar sensibility to bear here. His winsome songs frolic lightheartedly around crisp melodies, well-crafted songs and snippets of serrated guitar that might catch you by surprise. Late show openers The Mercators sidle slinky and slow. Whether soaked in fuzz or ramshackle twang, there's a foot-tapping energy that infests their musical foundation like hook-hungry termites gorging themselves. Bobby's Fever captains the night with irascible pop-punk. Low hits the stage at 7:30 p.m., followed by the late pair around 10p.m. —Chris Parker


Slim's celebrates Christmas a month late, which is really just in time for Bright Young Things to celebrate, too, as they've finished their self-titled debut EP. The quintet's sun-kissed pop bubbles with backing harmonies, tinkling keys and an effusive '60s melodicism that suggests an amalgam of Big Star, Crosby Stills & Nash and ELO. Headliner Richard Bacchus is the kung pao to their shrimp toast, dishing out hot and spicy garage-punk rumble. The former D Generation guitarist likes to rattle the rafters but doesn't skip on well-crafted hooks either, ladling out classic slashing riffs equally informed by Chuck Berry and Johnny Thunders. Also, The Royal Knights. $3/ 9 p.m. —Chris Parker

click to enlarge The Entrance Band
  • The Entrance Band


When Guy Blakeslee left Baltimore band The Convocation of... for Chicago, he left the finesse of that band's post-rock, too. And so he became Entrance, releasing a stream of grainy, willfully obfuscated Delta blues records, highlight by the excellent EP Honey Moan. Within four years, his own career sprinted down the same path it had taken rock music itself 50 years to cover, leaping from the primeval blues to barnstorming stoner rock. Last year's The Entrance Band is Blakeslee's most ambitious statement yet, full of philosophical and social pontification and stock riffs that Blakeslee reenergizes. Check "Sing for the One," for instance, a chewy, 12-bar number that eventually morphs into a workout for pick slides and flurries of short, pithy solos. The rare young psychedelic band that's not afraid to flex. With Lights. $10/ 9:30 p.m. —Grayson Currin


click to enlarge Nick Oliveri
  • Nick Oliveri


Nick Oliveri totes the sort of CV that makes this show tempting. An early member of Kyuss and then The Dwarves, Oliveri went on to be crucial to the development of Queens of the Stone Age and its early albums and to lead the gnarled and heavy Mondo Generator. Indeed, he's not without legacy. But Death Acoustic, his collection of acoustic home recordings that inspired this tour of the same name, is without many reasons to listen. With songs that sound alternately like Elliott Smith throwaways, Lucero demos and Daniel Lanois tunes sans all exotic flair, Oliveri belongs in a band loud enough to obscure and embolden his juvenile reflections, not left alone with his guitar and thoughts. C.O.C. offshoot Righteous Fool opens with its own "special acoustic set." Yikes. $10/ 8 p.m. —Grayson Currin


click to enlarge 01.20mushearingaid_grandson.gif


From: Washington, D.C.

Since: 1986

Claim to fame: Dubbed "the hardest working band in D.C." by The Washington Post

Though The Grandsons' spirited, sax-heavy jams are not unlike those of our own beloved Countdown Quartet, the D.C. institution has been at it far longer, creating a legendary reputation for lively performances. Alongside their own retro-flavored originals, the 'Sons revive nostalgic nuggets with swing and rockabilly flair. Tonight, they're sandwiched between local support from the Jon Shain Trio and Gravy Boys. Veteran singer-songwriter Shain dresses up his folkie leanings with generous touches of blues, while the quintet of Gravy Boys spins its early folk influences into harmony-rich Americana. At BROAD STREET CAFE. $10/ 8 p.m.


click to enlarge 01.20mushearingaid_farewell.gif


From: Nashville

Since: 2006

Claim to fame: Fresh-faced youngsters, fast becoming festival favorites

Don't call them traditionalists: With fiddles, mandolins and six strings in tow, this triple bill of Nashville artists inflects bluegrass and Americana with varying levels of progressive aesthetic and pop appreciation. Headliner The Farewell Drifters borrow from Nickel Creek's playbook with clean, graceful tunes that pair pop songwriting with an awful lot of acoustic strings, while The Apache Relay mines newgrass ground, smartly backing Michael Ford Jr.'s melodic punch with tasteful, textural arrangements. Troubadour Allen Thompson hits leadoff, delivering the night's most rustic roots offerings with down-home sincerity and a slight twang. At LOCAL 506. $8-$10/ 9 p.m. —Spencer Griffith


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