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The guide to the week's concerts 

This week's guide contains:

YES, PLEASE: Tim Kasher, Darren Hanlon, Noncanon, DMVB, Bad Mr. Viswas, The Stegmonds with Hank Sinatra, The Invisible Hand, Crowbar, Black Tusk

VS.: Dashboard Confessional vs. Minus the Bear

VS.: Dave Barnes & Drew Holcomb vs. Andy Hull & Kevin Devin



It's unclear why Tim Kasher ditched The Good Life—heretofore his moniker for non-Cursive and solo endeavors—particularly since this eponymous effort keeps close to The Good Life. Though initially conceived on an acoustic guitar, Kasher's debut, The Game of Monogamy, features 11 songs richly adorned with baroque elements like horns, theatrical dynamics, crisp hooks and crafty, florid lyrics. Thematically, it's the wizened-but-not-weary third chapter of a story that began with Cursive's Domestica and The Good Life's Black Out. Aussie singer Darren Hanlon's warm bedroom croon is accompanied by keen observations and tuneful songs. Tonight your 506 hand-stamp will get you into The Cave's David Dondero/ The Moaners show for $3. $10–$12/ 9 p.m. —Chris Parker


The holidays also serve as springboards for homecomings, when people who have headed to cities far and wide return to the old streets—and, in this case, stages—that used to be home. Danny Vaughn played in several Raleigh bands before heading to Philadelphia several years ago; the most interesting of those might have been Noncanon, a subtle band whose serpentine pop seemed to reference the orbit of Gastr del Sol and The Sea and Cake. Tonight, Noncanon returns to Raleigh, along with Vaughn's quartet DMVB. Also, Bad Mr. Viswas, the project of DMVB member, show organizer and sitar player Viswas Chitnis. $6/ 9:30 p.m. —Grayson Currin


How potent are the classic rock-honoring sounds of the Stegmonds, 20-plus years old and going strong? Mighty enough to knock longstanding area DJ Bob the Blade off WRDU. Several years ago on the Blade's World blog, he explained the impact of a Stegmonds reunion show: "In November when I was still deciding on whether or not to take the country gig at WRDU after the switch from classic rock, the band played on Saturday night and they opened with 'Substitute' and went right into 'The Seeker' by The Who. I resigned the following Tuesday night on the air." Opener Hank Sinatra's twang-rock possesses similar powers. $8–$10/ 9 p.m. —Rick Cornell


Charlottesville, Va., quartet Invisible Hand takes its name from Adam Smith's economic theory, which asserted the market was capable of regulating itself and ushered in the laissez-faire philosophy. Most likely, the name stems from the coincidental fact that a different Adam Smith fronts the band. Regardless, the economic theory has an interesting parallel to this band's free-ranging sound, which, with its springboard hooks at every turn, seems divinely coaxed into its tight, poppy presentation. On its self-titled first LP, the band regularly steers into light psychedelic fuzz, corkscrewed indie rock noise/melody and shiny-happy jangle-pop. The overall feel, though, returns always to an off-axis power pop center. —Bryan Reed

click to enlarge Black Tusk - PHOTO COURTESY OF THE BAND


If you're already done with the threat of winter, this double bill—a convocation of two swampy, sludgy beasts from the South—should shake away the gray blues. Black Tusk's Taste the Sin is a crossover blast from Savannah, built as much on punk rock's roil as heavy metal's maw. With sharp riffs sculpted by distortion and powered by a relentless rhythm section, Black Tusk makes the most of its throbbing mid-tempo comfort zone. Crowbar's been doing this stuff since the late '80s, scowling the blues through smoke-and-liquor-lacerated vocals and over a metal march that lunges between poles of speed and stomp. With Broadslab and Chapel Hill's excellent MAKE. $15–$18/ 8 p.m. —Grayson Currin


click to enlarge Dashboard Confessional - PHOTO COURTESY OF THE BAND


From: Boca Raton, Fla.
Since: 1999
Claim to fame: The Steve Perry of emo

Dashboard Confessional singer Chris Carrabba is a heartsick confessional singer in the mold of Bright Eyes' Conor Oberst, only lacking commensurate lyrical or emotional sophistication. Instead, his music appeals to those caught between Judy Blume and Twilight, with romantic confessions juvenile enough for Hello Kitty. With gut-churning sensitivity, he avers, "Life is hard/ let me dry your eyes" and worries "your kiss might kill me," sentiments bald and simplistic enough to make even tough guys gag. Musically, Dashboard Confessional recalls the earliest, overly earnest days of emo, when sweaters outnumbered hoodies or eyeshadow. With Cory Branan and John Lefler. At CAT'S CRADLE. $25–$28/ 7 p.m.


click to enlarge Minus the Bear - PHOTO COURTESY OF THE BAND


From: Seattle, Wash.
Since: 2001
Claim to fame: Knotty, intricate math-pop

Featuring former Botch guitarist Dave Knudson, Minus the Bear unsurprisingly favors jagged, interlaced guitars that ebb and flow. The songs' prickly complexity is balanced by a penchant for bright vocal melodies. Despite Jake Snider's sonorous croon and the ringing hooks, the dense art-rock guitar and shimmery veneer create a vague sense of remove and distance. Their latest, Omni, attempts to bridge that gap by turning up the synth from 2007's Planet of Ice several notches (eek!) and diving headlong into funk. Art-soul isn't any easier to pull off than it sounds (see jazz fusion), but whatever Omni's (manifold) inadequacies, Minus the Bear would kick Dashboard's ass. With Tim Kasher. At LINCOLN THEATRE. $20/ 8 p.m. —Chris Parker


click to enlarge Dave Barnes - PHOTO BY LEANN MUELLER
  • Photo by LeAnn Mueller
  • Dave Barnes


From: Down South (Mississippi & South Carolina)
Since: Early 2000s
Claim to fame: The Christian John Mayer & his country pal

Here's an interesting singer-songwriter pairing—velvet-voiced pop purveyor Dave Barnes and his countrified buddy Drew Holcomb. Dubbed "A Very Merry Neighborly Christmas" so as to combine the titles of Barnes' recently released Christmas album and Holcomb's 2007 nativity-themed disc, Barnes and Holcomb's sets will feature holiday classics both religious and secular, as well as nonseasonal selections from their respective catalogs. Though both songsters land a memorable line or catchy melody from time to time, they polish their generic arrangements with a commercial-friendly sheen, taking few risks to differentiate Barnes' blue-eyed acoustic soul or Holcomb's gentle folk-pop from the rest of the field. At LINCOLN THEATRE. $14-18/ 8 p.m.



From: Up North (Canada & Brooklyn)
Since: Early 2000s
Claim to fame: Manchester Orchestra frontman and his folky pal

Here's a predictable singer-songwriter pairing—raging, intense rocker Andy Hull and his sensitive folkie friend Kevin Devine. Dubbed Bad Books, Hull and Devine's accidental side project is a result of the duo's lasting friendship following several tours together. Their set will pull from their recently released album, which finds the middle ground between the songsters' complementary styles, as well as selections from their respective catalogs. Even on his solo project Right Away, Great Captain!, Hull is powerful and confident, while the dynamic Devine ranges from a church mouse whisper to bloodcurdling screams. Gobotron—the pet project of Manchester Orchestra guitarist Robert McDowell—opens. At CAT'S CRADLE. $11-13/ 8:30 p.m. —Spencer Griffith


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