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The guide to the week's concerts 

This week's guide contains:

YES, PLEASE: Tom Maxwell, Bustello, Hammer No More Fingers, The Rockridge Brothers, Future Islands, Ear PWR, Nuclear Power Pants, Parasytic, Stripmines, Spider Bags, Mic Harrison & The High Score, Medications, Deleted Scenes, Endless Boogie, Max Indian

VS.: Randall Bramblett vs. John Mayer




Tom Maxwell's a former Squirrel Nut Zipper, and you can definitely hear it in his music as it dabbles in jazz, swing and jump blues. From the country-tinged "What You Get" to the lovelorn piano ballad "See You Soon," Maxwell's explored a wider range of music since his Zippers departure in 1999. He's recorded music for movies and television, while releasing the solo album, Samsara in 2000, and another with former Zipper buddy Ken Mosher in 2005. Bustello are a hooky rock act featuring members of Metal Flake Mother and Sex Police. They're presently readying the release of an 8-song debut, recorded with producer and member John Plymale. $6–$7/ 9 p.m. —Chris Parker


Black Shark, the second LP by Durham trio Hammer No More the Fingers, doesn't have a label or a release date yet. But it does have songs—10 of them, and each number pushes the guitar, drums and bass trio forward in surprising ways. Whether it's the production nuance of "It's About Caring," the Built to Spill-brilliant guitar runs of "Fingernails," or the balance of forceful rhythmic stutter-and-stomp and acoustic textures on "Shark," Black Shark continually undermines the original claims that Hammer is or ever was, really, a simple band of indie rock revivalists. Free/ 5:40 p.m. See for more on this series. —Grayson Currin


The combination of punk roots and mountain music is a time-tested, and frequently invigorating, culture clash. Ask anyone who ever saw the Black Flag sticker on the upright bass of Bad Liver Mark Rubin spin around or, for a more local reference, anyone who ever heard ex-Lubricator Kenny Roby sing the Louvin Brothers' "Lorene." But factor in the Stockholm address of the Rockridge Brothers and get an added international twist. Substituting gang vocals for the high & lonesome (think other Brothers act the Wacos), the Swedish quartet tears into the likes of "Cripple Creek" and "Sugar Hill" at down-the-mountain speed. $10/ 8 p.m. —Rick Cornell

click to enlarge Future Islands
  • Future Islands


Filled with subtle hooks and dramatic, gradually unfolding arrangements, In Evening Air is undoubtedly Future Islands' most well-crafted record to date. Against hypnotic backdrops, Sam Herring offers the vocal heft of a soul man and the ability to put the party in motion, if the openers haven't already: The glitchy, gleeful electronics of EAR PWR come coated in day-glo tones and accompanied by infectious incantations repeated with the duo's indefatigable spirit. Nuclear Power Pants is an absurdly costumed troupe that produces an equally zany synth explosion. Charlotte newcomers Fat Camp create insanely catchy pop about male speedos and sex with a red-headed Jewish gal. $7–$9/ 10 p.m. —Spencer Griffith


This four-set onslaught is, if nothing else, a fitting birthday celebration for Hardcore Hank Williams, the champion and chief promoter of Raleigh punk and metal. Headliners from Richmond, Parasytic speed through burly sludge, like Kylesa pacing Motörhead or like D.R.I. doing what D.R.I. does best. It's hardcore in its direct approach and avalanche momentum, metal in its enunciated guitar phrases, unhurried riffs and agile solos. Locals Stripmines pummel their way through amplifiers, choke-holding the audience with malleable pacing and foaming-at-the-mouth ferocity. Also, Walls and No Tomorrow. For more partying with Hank, visit the first night of his birthday bash on Friday at Slim's, where Parasytic joins Attake, Raw Nerves and Devour. —Bryan Reed


Carrboro's Spider Bags weren't born fully formed. Rather, New Jersey expatriate Dan McGee first spoke solo to his tape machine, multi-tracking hangover laments and existential neuroses by himself for the bulk of the band's debut, A Celebration of Hunger. Since, though, the Bags have become a stable trio that expertly tiptoes the jagged line between loose and tight, playing its sweat-streaked garage blasts with a compelling mix of assurance and abandon. These days, they're a must-see band. Chapel Hill newcomers Last Year's Men seem to have learned from the Bags' history. Produced by the Bags' McGee and featuring Bags bassist Gregg Levy, the trio's forthcoming debut is, indeed, fully formed, with wiry, electric romps like "I'll Be Gone" sidling anxiously beside forlorn floaters like "Old Letter." Brooklyn's Fletcher C. Johnson comes from that crowded band house with a load of mildly psychedelic country-soul gems, like Tom Petty escaping the airwaves. 10 p.m. —Grayson Currin


In the mid-'90s, Mic Harrison played the Dave Edmunds to Scott Miller's Nick Lowe as Knoxville's V-Roys mixed burly roots rock with powerful pop, coming off like Rockpile lost in the Smokies. After the Roys, Harrison took that formula with him to the Faults along with "Dishonest Jenny," a tune that outhooks "867-5309" to make it the catchiest Jenny song ever. A stint in Superdrag followed, teaching Harrison to add quirky indie rock to the mix. These days, Harrison records with Knoxville trio The High Score, led by ex-Faults guitarist Robbie Trosper. Their third collaboration, Great Commotion, is knowingly titled. Pass the hat/ 5 p.m. —Rick Cornell

click to enlarge Deleted Scenes
  • Deleted Scenes


Mention of Washington, D.C., in the context of a rock music write-up necessarily conjures visions of the District's most important indie export, Dischord Records. Medications is indeed a member of that storied roster. But lest visions of Fugazi dance 'round your head, factor in the jittery, brittle sweetness the band injects into its rock-candy pop. Hooks lift like a Ferris Wheel and return as gracefully. Their sound is a complement to the moody, keys-fueled indie pop of the non-Dischord band Deleted Scenes, who rely on subtle shifts in texture and melodies stretched like silly putty. I Was Totally Destroying It headlines with a dynamic pop uppercut. $5/ 9 p.m. —Bryan Reed

click to enlarge Endless Boogie
  • Endless Boogie


If you catch the reference of this band's handle to the 1971 John Lee Hooker LP of the same name, you might or might not be surprised by the music the aged Brooklyn quartet makes: Just as Hooker warped and stretched the blues sometimes past the 10-minute mark then, Endless Boogie slows and bends, drones and doodles with classic rock structures. Paul Major sports a playful guffaw like the one you hear during ZZ Top's "La Grange," while he and Jesper Eklow share simpatico guitar predilections that allow them to wring every last overtone and variation from basic and familiar progressions. In the Year of the Pig beats a body of Krautrock, metal and noise with two drummers, two basses and a guitar that serves as the cat o' nine tails. 9:30 p.m. —Grayson Currin


"Whatever goes up has to come back down," Max Indian frontman Carter Gaj presciently sang on the most memorable cut from his band's 2009 debut, You Can Go Anywhere, Do Anything. Indeed, for a moment, it seemed that Max Indian might be bound for glory, with a cantering mix of faded soul and rock that sat so steadily in the pocket. Sure, their vintage pop suggested the Beatles, but it also suggested the humid torpor and ease of the band's home state. These days, membership attrition, as well as every member being split between a half-dozen bands, has slowed Max Indian's ascent, making this show a somewhat rare one. Hopefully they're not ready to come down just yet. $5–$10/ 7 p.m. —Grayson Currin


click to enlarge Randall Bramblett
  • Randall Bramblett

From: Southeast Georgia
Since: The early '70s
Claim to Fame: Being underappreciated

Really? You've never heard a Randall Bramblett song? OK, but you might have experienced his saxophone and keys on a Gregg Allman or Atlanta Rhythm Section record from the '70s or on a Steve Winwood or Widespread Panic tour. But unless you're one of the few and proud with a Bramblett or Sea Level album, you probably haven't heard him sing one of his own tunes. You should. From his 1975 debut That Other Mile all the way through 2008's Now It's Tomorrow, Bramblett's catalogue represents the perfect meeting of the subtly suave and the deeply soulful. He's earned your attention. $12–$15/ 9:30 p.m. At PAPA MOJO'S ROADHOUSE.


click to enlarge John Mayer
  • John Mayer

From: Atlanta by way of Connecticut
Since: 1998
Claim to Fame: Being over-tabloided

Really, I've never heard a John Mayer song—at least not all the way through. I mean, I've heard part of that "Wonderland" song a time or two, but honestly that's it. Pretty much everything I know about Mayer comes via the cover scoops on checkout-line glossies; in other words, I'm familiar with his Wonderland explorations of various starlets. Nothing against the guy—he seems fun enough with his standup comedy and Grammys and affection for Stevie Ray Vaughn and whatnot—but the musical universe is too vast to make time for everyone. And it's not like he needs my attention. $36-$69.50/7 p.m. At TIME WARNER CABLE MUSIC PAVILION AT WALNUT CREEK. —Rick Cornell



"Open your windows," Kid Future frontman Bryan Costello commands on "Like a Camera," as though imploring you to experience their burbling indie synth pop. The music lilts and drifts, reminiscent of '80s acts like New Order, but more sedate and dreamy.

The trio formed six months ago after Costello followed his brother Thomas to Raleigh after a couple years at Appalachian State. Drawn by friends and a job opportunity working for a soccer magazine, he kicked around in a variety of outfits before starting Kid Future. (He also plays in his brother's band, Mount Weather.) He cites locals The Love Language and Light Pines as big inspirations that helped foment his current direction.

"I finally started writing music I was pleased with by simplifying everything. I like to write stuff that's very catchy and has simple underlying components to it," Costello explains. "For me it's about creating a mood, and, for me, the easiest way to do that is to build simple parts." With the aforementioned brother Thomas and Raleigh newcomers The Cellar Seas. $3/ 9 p.m. —Chris Parker


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