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The guide to the week's concerts 

This week's guide contains:

YES, PLEASE: Curtains of Night, In the Year of the Pig, Bellafea, Music on the Porch, The Love Language, The Light Pines, Chris Pureka, Xylos, Max Indian, Ryan Gustafson, Leon Russell, Sallie Ford & the Sound Outside


VS.: Rod Picott vs. The New Familiars

VS.: Phosphorescent vs. Harlem, The Love Language



This week's Local Beer Local Band celebrates a wonderful, somewhat new phenomenon for the Triangle—music that is very heavy, very loud and very smart. Positively evil riffs define the staggeringly dense Curtains of Night. Lauren Fitzpatrick takes no prisoners with ruthless, tom-heavy drumming, and Nora Rogers' exceptional guitar work combines doom metal menace with bluesy articulation. Bellafea plays like an extroverted Slint, with Heather McEntire's lightly overdriven guitars clashing and chiming to emphasize her combat poetry. In the Year of the Pig is one big, sloppy monster powered by two drummers and distorted waves of guitars and bass. Think Sonic Youth and Lightning Bolt making it in the locker room. The show is free, but you're going to want earplugs. 10 p.m. —Corbie Hill

click to enlarge Music on the Porch
  • Music on the Porch


This series, presented by UNC-Chapel Hill's Center for the Study of the American South, pulls local songwriters out of rock clubs and away from their normal backing bands, putting them instead on a front porch to play and talk about the place they call home. This month, Catherine Edgerton and Kym Register—who add sizable spunk to back-porch music in their band Midtown Dickens—join The Beast emcee Pierce Freelon and Free Electric State's frontwoman Shirlé Hale. They'll share songs and stories in a conversation moderated by Local 506 owner Glenn Boothe, who has watched the local music landscape shift for more than two decades. Free/ 5 p.m. —Grayson Currin


If you haven't seen The Love Language since, say, their breathing-room-only performance at Troika Music Festival last November, you might be a little confused by what you see onstage tonight. Here's the debriefing: The Love Language frontman Stuart McLamb headed to Raleigh to record the band's Merge Records debut, Libraries, mostly by himself. That didn't sit well with his sextet, so half of the band decided to focus their attention instead on The Light Pines, the melodramatic, arching outfit of former Love Language bassist Josh Pope. The Love Language regrouped, and they're now a sturdy and slightly less dense quintet, with a grand record due on a big indie in June. Meanwhile, The Light Pines' dashing musicianship and flair seem bound for their own glory. Sweden's Moneybrother opens. $8–$10/ 9 p.m. —Grayson Currin


Massachusetts artist Chris Pureka's not built for pigeonholes. From her name to her androgynous appearance to husky vocals that linger between tenor and alto, she challenges categorization. That same spirit's apparent on her third full-length, How I Learned to See in the Dark. A terrifically taut, haunted album, it forsakes the jangly Indigo folk of her first two releases for a moody twang whose ache lingers like smoke. Brooklyn opener Xylos explore textured pop with baroque, electronic and world-beat elements that connect it to Yeasayer and Vampire Weekend. $10–$12/ 8:30 p.m. —Chris Parker


Throwback guitars and sunshine hooks abound in Max Indian's shambling, soulful pop. This Chapel Hill quartet clearly knows how to swing a Beatle-esque melody and, thankfully, how to craft a clever lyric to accompany it. The combination is as charismatic as the songs are swaggering. For the show, they'll be paired with their Drughorse Collective companion Ryan Gustafson, whose earnest Americana runs the gamut from classic rock to blue-eyed country. Sharing members and an apparent obsession with a '60s crackle, Max Indian and Gustafson blend vintage aesthetics with enough energy to create songs you'll be singing before you realize you even know them. This is a birthday party for Slim's bartender Matt Alston. How's that for employee benefits? $5 / 9 p.m. —Ashley Melzer

click to enlarge Leon Russell
  • Leon Russell


A good place to start when considering Leon Russell's five-decade, wandering-prone career is his Tulsa-based Starlighters, who toured with Jerry Lee Lewis (another fair piano pounder) in the late '50s. Then move into his Wrecking Crew (studio musicians as ninjas), Asylum Choir, and Mad Dogs & Englishmen days. In there somewhere, Russell released his first solo record, with guests including Beatles and Stones. He did country as Hank Wilson, and he wrote the George Benson crossover smash "This Masquerade." But there are a dozen words that, with carnival-tent piano rolling in the background, remain his signature: "I'm up on the tightwire/ One side's ice and one is fire." $20–$30/ 8 p.m. —Rick Cornell

click to enlarge Sallie Ford &ampl the Sound Outside
  • Sallie Ford &l the Sound Outside


"Today, I think I saw 10,000 cell phones/ But not one decent conversation," sings Portland, Ore.'s Sally Ford on "Write Me a Letter." Though Ford, who was raised in Asheville, channels jazz singers like Billie Holiday and Lena Horne and wise old folk singers, her postwar shuffles brim with modern references set against that old sound. In the perfectly sassy "Write Me a Letter," for instance, she references Jets to Brazil and Sunny Day Real Estate, laments the disappearing Polaroid picture and slides "fucking" into a verse. It's a musical Back to the Future, with a mind for attitude and an ear for melodies that seem bound to make Ford—a favorite of those tastemaking Avett boys—a star soon. $8/ 9:30 p.m. —Grayson Currin



Downtown Live comes early this year (yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus) with Tantric, the early 2000's few-hit wonders best known for "Breakdown" and for formerly including three-fourths of the original Days of the New. The Days dudes split years ago, leaving growling frontman Hugo Ferreira—think Core-era Scott Weiland, minus a sense of melody—to peddle his tepid douche rock in front of an everchanging lineup. There's little atonement offered by the four-band undercard Ashes of Soma, Sintonik, Idiom and Pivot, who join Tantric in perpetuating the sins of "modern" "rock." $15–$20/ 7 p.m. —Spencer Griffith


click to enlarge Rod Picott
  • Rod Picott


From: Nashville by way of New England

Since: 1994

Claim to fame: Writing songs, not scoring goals

The name Rod Picott looks like it comes from the hockey world, especially if you pronounce the last name PEA-co, rather than the prescribed pea-COTT. Yup, it would've fit right in as a wing on the Buffalo Sabres' French Connection line of the '70s. Picott's not a hockey player from the past, but his style of singing, songwriting and traveling is from the old school. And his signature song, "Tiger Tom Dixon's Blues," is set not on the ice but in the boxing ring. Telling the story of his great-uncle, a Depression-era fighter, it packs a wallop. $8/ 8 p.m. At THE SIX STRING CAFE.


click to enlarge The New Familiars
  • The New Familiars


From: Charlotte

Since: 2005

Claim to fame: Being a rockin' quartet, not a Kingston Trio

The name The New Familiars looks like it comes from the '60s folk world. Yup, it would've fit right in among the acts in A Mighty Wind. But while the group does feature a standup bass, this is not The Folksmen Mach 2. The approach might be primarily acoustic—mandolin and banjo get plenty of stage time—but the delivery is positively electric. Instruments are swapped, moods are realigned, and the whole enterprise feels like a dizzying adventure. It's impressive to witness the quartet transform Smokey Robinson's "My Girl" into a U2-ish anthem, but the biggest headspin is reserved for the makeover of Phil Collins' "Take Me Home." $3/ 10 p.m. At THE BROAD STREET CAFE. —Rick Cornell


click to enlarge Phosphorescent
  • Phosphorescent


From: New York

Since: 2003

Claim to fame: Hi-harmonies, lo-feelings

Not so long ago, particularly when the Georgia-bred, Brooklyn-based songwriter Matthew Houck, who calls himself Phosphorescent, released the 2007 album Pride, the goal seemed to be twofold: Write decent country-ish songs and send them sailing with elements too weird for Americana to allow—discordant horns, shambolic rhythms, astral harmonies, broken whispers. Houck aimed, it seemed, to put the Great American Songbook on the Moon. But on last year's full-length Willie Nelson tribute, To Willie, and the forthcoming Here's to Taking it Easy, Houck pulls the universe back toward songs that are stronger in the first place. Suddenly, Houck treats his tales of unfaithfulness, anxieties and weariness like standards, showcasing new confidence in craft, not affect. With Pinche Gringo and Grinder Nova, who also play The Cave Friday, April 16. At DUKE COFFEEHOUSE. $10/ 9 p.m.


click to enlarge Harlem
  • Harlem


From: Austin, Raleigh

Since: 2007, 2008

Claim to fame: Lo-fi, hi-hooks

Not so long ago, particularly when Montreal's The Arcade Fire and New York's Sufjan Stevens released Funeral and Illinois between September 2004 and July 2005, bands like Harlem and The Love Language would've been laughed out of the indie rock media room. After all, Austin trio Harlem, now signed to Matador, writes simple garage rock songs about being someone's baby, loving lysergic breasts and living the scummy sides of life. Manufactured with microphones and mixing that make the music feel like a decades-old relic, it elides the hi-fi grandiosity of those stars. The same goes for The Love Language, now signed to Merge. Their debut splayed tape hiss all over Stu McLamb's bouncy soul songs, making a mess of his messy thoughts on girls. The Love Language's forthcoming Libraries adds a little heft and polish, but it's still miles and miles from the meticulousness of Illinois. This is a battle of winners, where the only losers stay at home. At NIGHTLIGHT. $6/ 9 p.m. —Grayson Currin


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