Music » Our guide to this week's shows

The guide to the week's concerts

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This week's guide contains:

YES, PLEASE: Ben Sollee, Des Ark, Midtown Dickens, Motor Skills, Archers Of Loaf, Mike Doughty, Jack The Radio, NC Beer & Band Festival, Drunken Prayer, Flesh Wounds, Appalucia, Unknown Hinson, Hank Sinatra, Horse Feathers

VS: Reckless Kelly vs. JC Brooks And The Uptown Sound

VS: Secret Music vs. 1,2,3



YES, PLEASE...

05.10 BEN SOLLEE @ KINGS

Out to prove Kentucky can handle more than bourbon, Ben Sollee uses a cello to craft Appalachian music with a bit of soul. Sollee infuses the traditions of his homeplace with R&B rhythms. His distinctive musicality has put him on stages and in studios with artists such as My Morning Jacket, Abigail Washburn and Béla Fleck. He's also released two solo records, toured the country on a bike (yes, with cello in tow), and been active in the fight against mountaintop removal coal mining. He may be classically trained, but Sollee's clearly not your typical cellist. Justin Lewis opens. $15–$17/8 p.m. —Ashley Melzer

05.10 DES ARK, MIDTOWN DICKENS @ TIR NA NOG

Both Des Ark and Midtown Dickens are tales of unsteady evolution: During the last decade, Des Ark has moved from an explosive snap-and-swell duo into a solo act and a bona fide rock outfit. In the last two years, though, Aimee Argote has learned to balance all of those impulses at once, so that the outrage nestles with the intimacy. Midtown Dickens' lineage is more direct, as the former duo has added members and textures to its bittersweet songs about growing up and/or apart. Free/10 p.m. —Grayson Currin

05.11 MOTOR SKILLS @ KINGS

Two years ago, Motor Skills hooked up with someone they call a local "semi-famous producer/engineer." That session proved so expensive that Christopher Hutcherson-Riddle went as far as spending two weeks in an experimental drug trial just to raise funds. Despite this and other sacrifices from bandmates Mike Dillon and Andy Holmes, the whole thing ended badly. Re-motivating was hard; their new album, Moving Island, is worth the trouble. This time, the guys skipped the drug trials, found a new producer and recorded a set of '80s-influenced postpunk/progressive electronic tunes they feel so confident about that they invited a bunch of bands to futz with them on a free compilation entitled reWORK. They'll celebrate the release of both with openers Airstrip and Wowser Bowser. $8–$10/9:30 p.m. —Ashley Melzer

05.11 & 05.12 ARCHERS OF LOAF @ HAW RIVER BALLROOM & KINGS

If you've yet to see Archers of Loaf since the band's 2011 reunion, this weekend affords two opportunities to rectify that error. In the '90s, the Archers were the most angular and aggressive of Chapel Hill's indie rock exports—as kinetically catchy as Superchunk and as enchantingly skewed as Polvo. Tensile riffs clashed like clanging swords behind Eric Bachmann's gritty groans of postmodern disillusionment. Archers' attack is just as sharp today as the band roars through their catalog with the kind of irreverent energy expected from musicians half their age. Pipe and Fan Modine open the Haw River Ballroom show on Friday. Pipe opens at Kings on Saturday. $20/9 p.m. (Saturday starts at 10 p.m.) — Jordan Lawrence

05.11 MIKE DOUGHTY @ CASBAH

Touring behind his recently released memoir The Book of Drugs rather than a new album means that this Mike Doughty appearance will take a different shape than his normal gigs. The seated show promises readings from the book, a question-and-answer session, and, of course, musical selections from Doughty's extensive solo discography. Exploring avenues suggested by Soul Coughing, the bohemian rock band he fronted in the '90s, Doughty's outings since the outfit's 2000 split are hooky and eclectic, leveraging his clever songwriting on rootsy sounds. He smartly blends elements of pop, soul and rock with a bit of offbeat experimentation to keep things from moving in circles. $16/8 p.m. —Spencer Griffith

05.12 JACK THE RADIO @ BIG BOSS BREWING COMPANY

The release show for the second album, Lowcountry, by Raleigh's Jack the Radio is an ambitious one, with food trucks and a Big Boss brewery tour. It aims to be as big as the album itself—which is to say this modern Southern rock band brings in big hooks, big guitar solos and big emoting. "Devil" hints at a slow drive with Tom Petty, while "Truck Stop Man" rides a persistent slide-blues riff into the Allman camp. Then there's the jammy, wah-heavy mirror-ball rock on "A Darker Age," and "Read My Eyes," which takes a page from the Born to Run playbook. None of the influences are especially subtle, which doesn't seem to be Jack the Radio's aim either. But damn if these songs don't stick in your head pretty much instantly. Free/3:30 p.m. —Corbie Hill

05.12 NC BEER & BAND FESTIVAL @ LINCOLN THEATRE

Unlimited samples of Carolina beers courtesy of breweries such as Duck Rabbit, Mother Earth and Highland more than justify the price of admission to this all-day shindig. Consider the inviting selection of locally sourced music a welcome bonus, then: Chapel Hill's Hobex is a soul-rock institution, with vibrant harmonies and seductive bass lines making their now-infrequent performances worth seeking out. The thick rhythms of Asheville-based Yo Mama's Big Fat Booty Band should prove a winning complement. They lean more toward funk, pairing a Prince-like inclination for R&B-inflected rock with a Sly touch for sexy rhythm. Simplified, Clay Pigeons and Mac & Juice also play. $25–$30/3 p.m. —Jordan Lawrence

05.12 DRUNKEN PRAYER, FLESH WOUNDS, APPALUCIA @ LOCAL 506

Drunken Prayer enjoys dual citizenship in Portlandia and Americana, though the latter's more of a summer home, given the band's wide-ranging predilections. Soul, rag, blues, folk and gospel all move through these tunes, while ringmaster Morgan Christopher Greer reveals himself to be the illegitimate offspring of Tom Waits and Levon Helm. His wheedling delivery borrows Waits' ambling grit while echoing The Band's skillful blend of roots idioms and beguiling narrative. Five years after Drunken Prayer's self-titled debut, they've returned with Into the Missionfield, an energetic, assured effort highlighted by the funky take on the traditional "Ain't No Grave" and the gentle Laurel Canyon folk-pop of "Brazil." $5/10 p.m. —Chris Parker

05.12 UNKNOWN HINSON, HANK SINATRA @ LINCOLN THEATRE

The line between parody and perfection is thin indeed for Charlotte's hillbilly undead honky-tonker Unknown Hinson. Though begun in the '90s as a Charlotte public access persona, the character Unknown Hinson has grown into much more, even enjoying a couple major-label releases in the mid '00s. Singing persuasively about a 20-something "Satan in a Thong" or recounting his many drunken, stupid or criminal acts ("I've Been There"), his wit's dry and earnestly tongue-in-cheek. But if he's never quite serious, his skills are no joke; tracks like "Torture Town" or "I Ain't Afraid of Your Husband" are so well-written and lovingly crafted, they're as much homage as satire. $14.50–$18/9 p.m. —Chris Parker

05.15 HORSE FEATHERS @ LOCAL 506

Horse Feathers' Justin Ringle isn't exactly known for his cheerful jingles, but he's not one to sound jaded, either. That balance is hard to pull off when you're a folk-minded Oregonian songwriter with a knack for lush melodies and dark imagery. Even so, on the aptly titled new Horse Feathers record, Cynic's New Year, Ringle explores his skeptical side while maintaining the elegant, string-laden arrangements of 2008's House with No Home and 2010's Thistled Spring. Opener Matt Bauer's music plays similarly with darkness and beauty. The Kentuckian's banjo-driven, haunting narrative tunes are a lovely and unsettling take on traditional folk music. $12–$14/9 p.m. —Ashley Melzer


TUESDAY, MAY 15

RECKLESS KELLY

From: Austin via Oregon
Since: Mid '90s
Claim to fame: Crisp, tuneful country-roots

Though they're carpetbaggers of sorts, the term is best applied geographically, not musically. Growing up, Austin transplants Willy and Cody Braun played in their dad's country swing band with their younger siblings. (Micky and Gary Braun now star in Micky & the Motorcars.) Now, Reckless Kelly skirts boundaries, pushing between earnest hat country, jangly folk and rocking Red Dirt twang as they balance heartache ballads and carpe diem party rock. Willy has a warm hearty baritone, skilled at both down-home charm and shit-kicking swagger. It's lively music that will thrill those in love with this style because they have it down, though it won't necessarily lure new listeners with originality. With Gabriel Kelly. At LINCOLN THEATRE. $12-$15/8pm.

VS.

JC BROOKS AND THE UPTOWN SOUND

From: Chicago
Since: 2007
Claim to fame: Indie retro-soul rock

In the battle of nostalgia acts, you have to hand it to the soul cats. Not only is the sound fresher, but Brooks & Co. are learning to better synthesize their varied inspirations. This combo's founder, Billy Bungeroth, sought something more adventurous than his noisy post-punk band and alighted on fellow erstwhile actor JC Brooks, who possesses the mesmerizing magnetism required of a great soul singer. His band blends ass-activating grooves and garage-tinged rock crunch; last year's Want More brings the two into better balance and focus. The Uptown Sound's vibrant energy and empowerment puts the less inventive Reckless Kelly out on their ass. At KINGS BARCADE. $10–$12/9 p.m. —Chris Parker


TUESDAY, MAY 15

SECRET MUSIC

From: Brooklyn
Since: 2011
Claim to fame: Partying, partying

Ever wonder how Relient K would have sounded had they abandoned their Christian beliefs and sung about naughty things? Have no fear: Secret Music will answer your inquiries. Sliding solo lines support the backbone while mingling with a poppy synthesizer-and-keyboard rhythm section. Although the vocals are sometimes imperceptible in the undertow of the Brooklyn party-rock bros, their danceability is unmitigated. The band's 2-month-old self-titled debut extends an invitation to get wild. With Trepak. At NIGHTLIGHT. $7/8:30 p.m.

VS.

1,2,3

From: Pittsburgh
Since: 2010
Claim to fame: A healthy bit of British buzz

The bellowing vocals of Nic Snyder crack and croon with shout-out-loud pressure. The young Pittsburgh duo has been together for less than two years but has already received backing from big-name labels Ooh La La Recordings and (currently) Frenchkiss Records. New Heaven, released last summer, moves between heavy-handed Local Natives-like indie rock, Foster the People-suggestive earnestness and measured displays of roots. Some Army opens and Left Outlet closes. At SLIM'S. $5/9 p.m. —James Hatfield

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