This week's guide contains:
YES, PLEASE: Hieroglyphics/ Tanya Morgan, The Loners/ Heavy Pets, Auxes/ Kerbloki, Capitol City Five/ Gospel Jubilators, Valient Thorr/ Monotonix, Armed Forces
EH, WHATEVER: Wolf Parade, Jonas Brothers
VS.: The Strugglers vs. Tilly and the Wall
VS.: Transportation vs. Dr. Powerful
SONG OF THE WEEK: Light Pollution's "Hand Crushes the Wheel"
07.24 HIEROGLYPHICS/ TANYA MORGAN @ CAT'S CRADLE
Several hours after Hieroglyphics member Opio appeared on MySpace's "Album Premiere" section for his new solo LP, Vulture's Wisdom Vol. 1, hip-hop blog, GRANDGOOD, posed this question: "Did 15,000,000 people, give or take a million, just get put on to Opio?" Technically, yes. Good news. Perhaps those same 15 million MySpace clickers also got put on to the three-pack crew Tanya Morgan when the two-thirds Cincinnati/ one-third Brooklyn rap group won the grand prize in MySpace's "Show Us What Ya Got" contest, which spawned the group's DJ Soul-assisted mix tape, Tanya Morgan Is A Rap Group. Like it or not, our most monopolist, prickling social-networking Web site might be hip-hop's fortuitous enabler. Whether you're a seasoned, 15-year-faithful Hieroglyphics head or a newbie who just copped/ downloaded Tanya Morgan's The Bridge EP, make sure you log in. In person, that is. With Blue Scholars, Knobody and Musab. $15/ 9:30 p.m. —Eric Tullis
07.25 THE LONERS/ HEAVY PETS @ SLIM'S
Raleigh's Loners is a fast and dirty encapsulation of the rawest nerve left in rock. Exposed, it's got the fiery aura of punk—the kind that started in the '60s with bands like the Sonics, and still burns in spirit in its followers. Kept to its most minimal expressions, the quick guitar slash in only a handful of chords, stinging declarations of bitter love and redemption belted out in raspy yelps, it's music plucked of all its circumstance and left bare. Pure energy surge comes out in simple bursts. The Heavy Pets open. 10 p.m.—Chris Toenes
07.26 AUXES/ KERBLOKI @ MILLTOWN
Last week, I raved about John Crouch's drumming in Chapel Hill sort-of-metal band Caltrop. These are two of his other bands, celebrating their own fine releases: Kerbloki's live band hip-hop sits well on a new Brian Paulson-produced 12-inch single, and Auxes' tough post-punk core comes draped with vulnerable melodic touches on its new Lovitt Records debut. Free/ 8:30 p.m. —Grayson Currin
07.27 CAPITOL CITY FIVE AND GOSPEL JUBILATORS @ DUKE GARDENS
"Sing, O heavens; and be joyful, O earth; and break forth into singing, O mountains!" It's not often I lead with scripture—in fact, this is a first—but this gathering calls for it: two groups, hearts toward heaven and their faith steadfast as a mountain, singing for the joy of it. "On a mission for the King," as the Capitol City Five's James "Mr. Gospel" Thomas likes to put it. The Capitol City Five have been on that mission for 66 years, more than half of that time with its current lineup, lighting the way with "straight old gospel with harmonies." That description comes from another member, Millard Jones, who started singing in Raleigh in the early '00s. Forming in the '70s, the Gospel Jubilators are the relative newcomers of Durham. "The only instruments we have are the ones God gave us," group leader Harry Leak offers by way of introduction to their jubilee singing. Listen, and be joyful. $5-$10/ 7 p.m. —Rick Cornell
07.29 VALIENT THORR/ MONOTONIX @ VOLUME 11 TAVERN
Two of the hardest rocking acts loose upon the nation's byways, they're a testament to the ultimate renewable power source, human energy. Valient Thorr's titular leader stakes a messianic profile more product of his imploring stage presence than revolutionary rhetoric, but the passion and pulse trace lineage back to MC5. (The chugging, riff-rocking guitar pyrotechnics owe their debt to Judas Priest and Iron Maiden.) Israeli trio Monotonix's garage blues recalls a truck manifold: gritty, powerful, and hot enough to cook your breakfast. Thick, primal Blue Cheer grooves give way at times to broader psych melody, and the performances are unhinged. $10/ 8 p.m.—Chris Parker
07.30 ARMED FORCES @ NIGHTLIGHT
They're a shoulder-shimmying strumpet with a runaway past, a joyriding, drug-addled gallon of gas looking for a sucker to light their lucky. Glam punk-poppers Armed Forces plays a decadent, rebellion-riddled three-card monte of '60s garage-soul organ, bloozy, slashing blasts of guitar Thunders, and frontman Brandon Jazz's cooly importuning vocals. The indefatigable, energetic rhythms power big hooks sprinkled with backing harmonies, often suggesting a slightly grimier iteration of fellow Nashville residents The Pink Spiders (one guests on debut EP, Modern Gospel for Modern Men & Women). A combustible blend of glue-huffing threats, loitering libido and knee-jerk defiance, Armed Forces is a reminder seditious teen spirit springs eternal. With Fire in the Woods and Merch. 9:30 p.m. —Chris Parker
07.29 WOLF PARADE @ LINCOLN THEATRE
If logistics permitted Wolf Parade to tour with its bevy of side projects, I'd already be in line for this one. As is, though, the Montreal band's better corollaries—from Spencer Krug's time in Frog Eyes, Sunset Rubdown and Swan Lake to Dante DeCaro's affably alt.Canadian country of Johnny and the Moon—stay off the road for the less urgent, more mundane flagship. The second Wolf Parade LP, At Mount Zoomer, spends the best of its 50 minutes juxtaposing pop oomph and prog misdirection. Otherwise, it sounds like every post-millennial indie rock punchline—from keyboards so icy you'll get frostbite to anthemic drums Bruce left on the cutting room floor—you know. Nova Scotia's just fine Wintersleep opens. $18/ 9 p.m. —Grayson Currin
07.30 JONAS BROTHERS @ WALNUT CREEK AMPHITHEATRE
Generally one prefers better game than clueless teen piffle like the Jonas Brothers, whose only hope of appearing like they have any chest hair is to stand next to Avril Lavigne. That the Jersey trio's emo-pop, Drive Thru Records lilt is a mainstream pop vehicle demonstrates the damage a Dashboard Confessional can do. While Disney would probably rather they were blond, it's hard to beat the purity rings for communicating the G-rated flavor of their cotton candy sound. Self-aware jokes about Hanson don't divert the landfill trajectory: Cute has precious little shelf life, just ask Nick, AJ, JC or Joey. $18.75-$79.50/ 7 p.m. —Chris Parker
FRIDAY, JULY 25
From: Chapel Hill
Claim to fame: A provocative Southern songwriter who still releases his records on a Spanish imprint
Some bands grow up so well: Over the last eight years, sole constant Struggler Randy Bickford has sharpened the edges of his rusty tenor on the whetstone of experience—career disappointment, love and marriage, a cousin's suicide. Though Will Oldham comparisons continue to be both the positive and negative talking points of reviews of his work, Bickford's gaze seems to be more singular and, therefore, trenchant. He'll make you regret your educational privilege or your indecisive evils, and you'll enjoy the sound of the punishment. The early rounds of this one come recommended as well: Raleigh's Gray Young makes billowing, reverb-abetted indie rock, a bit like Band of Horses stranded in arid Texas flatlands, while Greensboro's Citified softens shoegaze's dissonant fix, adding clean, winding guitars and omnipresent acoustics beneath its dreamy pop distention. Bet big. Bet local at the 506. $5/ 9:30 p.m.
TILLY AND THE WALL
From: Omaha, Neb.
Claim to fame: Putting the tap dance in indie rock. Wait, that doesn't make sense!
Some bands don't grow up at all: "When I was young, I used to sleep out in the garden," opens Tilly & the Wall's third album, O. Too bad the band still sounds like it's that young, its often petulant and unsophisticated lyrics offering a solipsistic post-WB worldview that's as grating as the band's least-common-denominator emo-indie. You'll swear that you've heard these songs before, and that you liked them better the last time. But hey, cute girls tap dancing and getting edgy with piercings and profanity! Who cares? Unfortunately, the calypso concordance of New Zealand's Ruby Suns—which works with impressionistic, collagist charm on this year's excellent Sea Lion—doesn't translate live. The winner tonight stands at the 506 in the challenger's position. Also, Doly Toro. At CAT'S CRADLE. $12-$14/ 9:30 p.m. —Grayson Currin
SATURDAY, JULY 26
From: Chapel Hill
Claim to fame: Rare Chapel Hill band to have the gall to rock Boston (the band)-style ballads in the capital of indie rock
Transportation crowds bust out lighters and pump their fists to their favorite songs a lot more than the usual staid head-bobbing set. They're in the trio's corner, rooting for it like a boxer's fans who want the crew to take down that other guy, or in this case, that girl who done him wrong. On offense, Robbie Scruggs draws in the opposition with sweet talk, while Stephen Murtagh's beefy guitar riffs knock 'em to the ropes. The band's perpetually delayed concept album, Daydreams, is due out in the coming months, sure to show another side of this well-rounded rock-tuff adversary. At RESERVOIR. No cover/ 10 p.m.
From: Sanford, N.C.
Claim to fame: Despite having a fully formed set of songs, still best known as "the band with former Polvo drummer Eddie Watkins in it"
As much as Transportation goes against the grain of jumbled, jagged rhythms or the '90s heyday for screamed diatribes over a din of guitar squall, the oddly named Dr. Powerful embraces it like a big medicine ball in a training session. Come to think of it, the name Dr. Powerful in a boxing ring is very appropriate, bringing forth images of a spandex-clad superhuman opponent. While Transportation switches instruments from song to song, Dr. P changes gears, railing one minute like some Go4 knockoff, gradually speeding up a song into an angry, instrumentally dynamic furor the next. But if it came to agility versus heart, Transpo would take this one in 10 rounds. At BULL CITY HEADQUARTERS. With Cinemasophia; Ugh, God; and Fortress of Swatches. $5/ 9 p.m. —Chris Toenes