This week's guide contains:
YES, PLEASE: Do Make Say Think; Big Bear; Tenderhooks; Terrance Simien
EH, WHATEVER: Augustana; NEEDTOBREATHE; Ryan Montbleau
VS.: John McLaughlin vs. Elvis Costello
INTRODUCING: Max Indian
LAST WEEK'S PARTY: Bull Durham Blues Festival
SONG OF THE WEEK: Black Lips' "Cold Hands"
09.18 DO MAKE SAY THINK @ THE ARTSCENTER
Adding horns and strings to the standard post-rock bag, Toronto sextet Do Make Say Think is more melodic and varied than most peers. Its latest, You, You're a History in Rust, bristles and bustles without sinking into an angular morass. DMST forges long melodic passages that go somewhere, investing the music with emotion without weighing it down in heavy-hearted/handed strings or taking nine minutes to make its point (only three of Rust's eight tracks go much beyond five). With its parched, swelling twang, album highlight "You, You're Awesome" completes its circuit in just over three and a half minutes of triumph. $10-$12/ 9 p.m. —Chris Parker
09.15 BIG BEAR @ NIGHTLIGHT
Defined by ferocious and wide mid-tempo riffs that curl into fragments of feedback at phrase's end, Boston's Big Bear rethinks the hardcore versus metal rift. Frontwoman Jordyn Bonds lands serrated shrieks, howling down tropes and hierarchy with a voice that's immediate and brittle. 10 p.m. —Grayson Currin
09.16 TENDERHOOKS @ THE CAVE
Knoxville quartet Tenderhooks is graced with a still-unrealized potential for indie rock/alt.country crossover. Braced by smart guitars owing as much to Television's complexity as Uncle Tupelo's stomp, Tenderhooks comes magnetized by frontman Jake Winstrom, a guy who sings about empirical wisdom in an idiosyncratic tenor offering a majestic breed of Marc Bolan and Alex Chilton. 9 p.m. (Also, Tenderhooks at Broad Street Café Saturday, Sept. 15, with Overhead Projector). —Grayson Currin
09.16 TERRANCE SIMIEN @ BLUE BAYOU
While the Blue Bayou is best known as a top-flight blues venue, it also does justice to the back half of its name by bringing the best in Southern Louisiana's indigenous music to the Triangle. Next up is Terrance Simien and his roadhouse-raised, culture-conscious zydeco. $14-$16/8 p.m. —Rick Cornell
09.14 AUGUSTANA @ MEREDITH COLLEGE
It's been about 740 days since Illinois' Augustana released its Epic Records debut, and two years later they're still touring on its hit, a formulaic ballad called "Boston." Protocol for success? Write a gushing piano number about a love-worn girl who seeks solace in anonymity, pair it with a video featuring a scruffy lead singer playing said piano, and wait for the sight of swooning. It's a Xerox of Coldplay for sure, but—in the wash of Augustana's over-processed guitars, big piano crescendos and gentle-to-histrionic vocals—Chris Martin (and even his American imitators in The Fray) sound like emotional geniuses. $10-$15/ 8 p.m. —Kathy Justice
09.16 NEEDTOBREATHE @ LINCOLN THEATRE
One hates to pick on South Carolina brothers named Bear and Bryant (seems they would've suffered enough, right?), but the lyrics of their modern rock quartet beg to differ: They whine in two-part harmony pretty constantly about loves leaving and attempts to right it, but their music—like Train for kids down with MTVemo—dresses pathos in Gap chinos and funny hats. Suffocating schlock. $8-$10/ 8 p.m. —Chris Parker
09.16 RYAN MONTBLEAU @ HIDEAWAY BBQ
Montbleau considers himself a soul singer and a savvy guitarist, but his overarticulated turns with both instruments are more learned than lived: When he reaches back for Stevie Wonder soul, he sings like he's reading sheet music and arranges like he wants to make David Gray seem aggressive. $10/ 7 p.m. —Grayson Currin
THURSDAY, SEPT. 13
From: Yorkshire, England
Claim to fame: Bitches Brew, side three, track one.
One of the most technically gifted guitarists ever, McLaughlin's jazz-fusion contributions helped define the genre before it became known only for watery noodling. He's explored Eastern modalities (notably in Mahavishnu Orchestra), and besides Miles, some notable collaborators include Jaco Pastorius and Tony Williams in the short-lived Trio of Doom and flamenco guitarist Paco De Lucia and Larry Coryell (and later Al Di Meola) in the Guitar Trio. Categorizing McLaughlin stylistically is inevitably insufficient, so suffice it to say a talent this versatile comes along rarely. He starts his tour with his new electric outfit, The 4th Dimension, at the CAROLINA THEATRE. $38.50-$56/ 8 p.m.
From: London, England
Claim to fame: "Writing" "Peace, Love & Understanding." What's so funny?
Between the caustic wit and the wicked wordplay, Costello distinguished himself as new wave's best lyricist. He was on his way to taking over the U.S. with Armed Forces when his tongue got the better of him, and Bonnie Bramlett got much-needed publicity. Since then, Costello's followed his muse from country to pop to jazz and even string quartets. While most of his '90s output can be forgotten (aside from the terrific Bacharach collab, Painted from Memory), Costello's returned in strong shape with consecutive roots albums—the bluesy Delivery Man, and The River in Reverse, a collaboration with Allen Toussaint in the Big Easy air. Pick your idol for this one. Costello performs with the N.C. SYMPHONY in the close of its outdoor season at KOKA BOOTH AMPHITHEATRE. $43-$53/ 7:30 p.m. —Chris Parker
09.19 MAX INDIAN @ THE CAVE
When James Wallace started Max Indian with longtime friend Carter Gaj in January, they knew the songs should be a blast to play, even if they were writing primarily about a break-up. Coming from projects that echo an Abbey Road vibe (Wallace with The Old Ceremony, Gaj with melodic solo work), Max Indian's attention to heartbreak doesn't keep the songs from being sunny, somewhat dreamy ditties.
Wallace says the story of the band's odd name, which came out of a discussion about Indian food, is a little inane. But it's not completely pointless with regard to the music: "When Carter would write something and he would come to me with it, we would be like, 'How can we make this sound like Max Indian?'" he says. "We just had this name that sounded really cool, and we tried to make all the songs sound like the name."
Mission accomplished. The Proclivites headline the show. $5/ 10 p.m. —Margaret Hair
LAST WEEK'S PARTY
09.06-08 BULL DURHAM BLUES FESTIVAL
The political season is nigh: Handshakes, back-pats and Farad Ali stickers were as prominent as the massive stage at the 20th Anniversary Bull Durham Blues Festival in the old ballpark. But was this crowd able to be persuaded? The lawn-chair throng was passive, moving little to Booker T & the MG's escalating headlining set Saturday, but paying knowing attention to the band on some of the biggest soul sessions ever. Even Percy Sledge—who admitted "Shit, I'm tired" after four songs—got more moves in. Still, good smells and good sounds. —Grayson Currin