This week's guide contains:
YES, PLEASE: Waumiss, Veelee, Josh Ritter, Impossible Arms, Schooner, Wayne Hancock, Andrew Weathers, Ghost Cats from the South, Battle Rockets
VS.: The National vs. Bonnie Prince Billy
INTRODUCING: Mosaic Spring Music Fest
SONG OF THE WEEK: Wes Phillips' "Any Other Night"-->
05.29 WAUMISS, VEELEE @ THE CAVE
Among the most enticing of 2008's crop of local releases, Waumiss' self-titled LP is also one of its strangest. Clarque and Caroline Blomquist carry their pop-experiment side project across lo-fi pop, psychedelic surrealism and bits of dub that combine for an oddly appealing collection of surprisingly catchy pieces. Veelee, another local duo crafting unassuming left-of-center pop, might have crafted this year's Waumiss with its Three Sides EP. But where Waumiss' record was deliberately scattered, Veelee is structurally more straightforward, relying on the vocal phrasings of both Matthew Park and Ginger Wagg, and the duo's ability to craft simple pop songs that sound anything but. With Pinche Gringo. 10 p.m. —Bryan Reed
05.30 IMPOSSIBLE ARMS, SCHOONER @ NIGHTLIGHT
Schooner's is a bittersweet sort of rock: Reid Johnson's morose tenor waxing poetic and dejected, even as sister Kathryn lines his gray clouds with her silver harmonies. With less of the shoegazing tendencies of earlier work, Schooner's (somewhat) recent output has been more focused and clearer in its mission. That's a pair of attributes that apply to Impossible Arms' Odessa Records debut, Ripped In No Time, a 14-track, 35-minute blitz of jagged guitar riffs and indie rock classicism. With Woody Sullender and Actual Persons Living or Dead. $6/ 10 p.m.—Bryan Reed
05.30 JOSH RITTER @ CAT'S CRADLE
As a college student in Idaho, Josh Ritter invented his own major, "American History Through Narrative Folk Music," both to reflect and reinforce his nascent interest in putting words to chords he learned on his Kmart guitar. Now, as a preeminent young American singer-songwriter, Ritter stands at the front of a class he invented: Under-40, infinitely romantic writers invoking the rich lexicon of references, much like Dylan, while bypassing the bard's enigmatic distractions for a completely affable presentation. Onstage, Ritter smiles as he twists words and parables into stories that skip between settings—big-city barrooms, small town backyards and an underground bunker that offers itself as a post-apocalyptic Garden of Eden—with the ease of someone who you'd swear has studied this stuff. He's not done developing, either: Ritter's hooks continue to sharpen, while his textural ideas grow ever more expansive. With Raleigh's The Proclivities and Richmond's David Shultz & the Skyline. $15-$18/ 9 p.m. —Grayson Currin
05.30 WAYNE HANCOCK @ SLIM'S
A '57 Chevy on a dirt road, standup bass bumps along as steel guitar blows across the plains, almost bending the sunset: With his high tenor drawl, Wayne "The Train" Hancock directs his quartet like a hillbilly conductor or a god of the open road. Claiming to have driven more than 1 million miles in his 15 years of touring, Hancock knows the road. He gives orders over loose song structures, bringing lead guitar forward at one moment, back at another. Improvisation rolls across the Western swing landscape that he creates with songs that can inspire dancing with strangers in juke joints or crying into a beer at a lonely highway bar. $15/ 7 p.m. —Andrew Ritchey
06.03 ANDREW WEATHERS, GHOST CATS FROM THE SOUTH, BATTLE ROCKETS @ NIGHTLIGHT
One of these kids is not like the others. Actually, none of these kids is like the others. The guitar is the unifying thread for this eclectic Nightlight bill, but it hardly seems like the same instrument in these diverse hands. Battle Rockets, a two-piece hailing from Raleigh and Pittsboro, uses the guitar for density in its metal-tinged post-rock. Ghost Cats of the South, a new-ish Durham group named after a book on supernatural house pets, uses it for indie-folk texture amid the trimmings of bells, autoharp, strings and singing saw. And Andrew Weathers, the Greensboro-based composer and improviser also known as Pacific Before Tiger, ranges the farthest afield, in his minimal, softly glowing meditations for guitar and electronics. $5/ 9:30 p.m. —Brian Howe
THURSDAY, MAY 28
Claim to fame: Mistaken for strangers by their own friends
The inevitability of age in a city that stays eternally young: Four albums deep into the Tindersticks via Springsteen oeuvre of his band of Ohio transplants, it's National frontman Matt Berninger's favorite topic. Over Alligator gem "Val Jester," the 30-something mouthpiece laments "all the most important people in New York are 19." On "Mistaken for Strangers," the reigning crowd-pleaser of the band's breakthrough 2007 release Boxer, Berninger bemoans "another uninnocent, elegant fall into the unmagnificent lives of adults." All delivered with a baritone (that unchallenged register of wisdom), politely reminding his younger audience that they'll join him eventually, and reassuring the rest that they aren't alone. With Colin Stetson. SOLD OUT/ 9 p.m. At LINCOLN THEATRE.
BONNIE PRINCE BILLY
Claim to fame: Name-checked in every review about Southern folkies since 1999
If the National write songs about growing older in the modern American city, Will Oldham writes about the end, and what we meet along the way, in the dusty South. Musically, Oldham is loyal to the sounds of his native Kentucky, of the smokehouse jukebox, of the Nashville studio hack and the old man's guitar. He's done lo-fi warble with Palace Music; Gothic anti-folk on his '99 high water mark, I See a Darkness; blatant, capital-C country session musicianry on Sings Greatest Palace Music; and so much more. But all along his songs have been about finding the simplest pleasures: friendship, felines and, well, the other f word, on the slow, Southern road to our end. With Lichens. SOLD OUT/8:30 p.m. At THE ARTSCENTER. —Robbie Mackey
05.28-06.07 MOSAIC SPRING MUSIC FEST @ MOSAIC WINE LOUNGE
Just as cynicism is understandably accompanying financial strain in the music community, a group of folks in Raleigh maintain such an optimistic attitude they started a new electronic music festival. Mosaic Spring Music Fest's first year starts this weekend with a range of house and club music.
"We are building our baseline and are open-minded and realistic about its size," said organizer Samad Hachby. "We want a boutique and intimate fest where people will feel comfortable." But they're looking for some of the bigger names on the roster to draw a regional crowd, too. "We will attract people from D.C., Charlotte and Atlanta who are familiar with the headliners," Hachby said.
Mosaic was trying to build a local scene around their club when they got some big-time inspiration down south. Mosaic resident DJs were invited in March to have a party at the huge Winter Music Conference held in Miami. "The party was a great success, it was an eye-opening moment for me to have a music fest in Raleigh during the year, spring and fall," Hachby said.
While Signal Fest in Chapel Hill has had similar goals, Mosaic appears to be concentrating on one genre—house—and its followers. Hachby points to Jazzy Nice, Hallo, Sabo, Chris Soul, Keith, Feinberg and Nickodemus as highlights of this year's festival. As with the Mosaic Wine Lounge, Hachby and these DJs will attempt to stretch house music's constraints and expand it with an ambitious new Triangle music festival. For full schedule and ticket info, visit www.mosaicspringmusicfest.com. —Chris Toenes