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: Senegal Connection, Jule Brown, Yann Tiersen, Old Bricks, Zack Mexico, Corn and the Colonels, Nonhorse, Dragged Into Sunlight, Ghoul, Batillus

VS: Rocky Votolato vs. The Polyphonic Spree



YES, PLEASE...

05.24 SENEGAL CONNECTION @ CASBAH

It's been a year and some change since the first "Senegal Connection" concert, when Kairaba made its public debut alongside its friends in The Brand New Life. Both bands embrace the music of West Africa and integrate Senegalese musicians into their midst; charismatic vocalist and kora player Diali Cissokho leads Kairaba, while tama player Mamadou Mbengue brings his explosive talking drum to The Brand New Life. "It's getting a little hard to have a date open on the same night. It's just great to be able to play with those guys and put the bill together again," says BNL drummer Daniel Yount.

As Yount hints, it has been a banner year for both bands. Kairaba released its Resonance debut CD in April, after wintering in Senegal. Meanwhile, The Brand New Life just recorded its second album, slated for release this summer, and recently opened in Atlanta for Afrobeat standard-bearer Seun Kuti. Speaking of Afrobeat, BNL has added trumpeter Sean Smith (formerly of Asheville's Afromotive) to its roster, bolstering the liquid gold sax duo of Walter Fancourt and Casey Cranford. Together, the two bands plan to reignite their friendship with a musical summit of sorts, putting Durham on high dance alert. Says Kairaba djembe player Will Ridenour, "We're going to try to bring some energy from Senegal into the room." $7/9 p.m. —Sylvia Pfeiffenberger

05.25 JULE BROWN @ BYNUM GENERAL STORE

Of Jennyanykind and several other solo projects and short-lived outfits, Mark Holland brings another of his musical alter egos—Jule Brown—to the front porch of Bynum. The series takes place at the old mill town's former General Store, which now acts as a gathering point for folks in this small, but still vibrant, rural community. Given that Jule Brown is all about breathing new, often psychedelic, life into dusty classics (think Robert Johnson and Syd Barrett swapping ideas and sharing stashes), Bynum might possibly be the ideal place to hear the band's rootsy mix of vintage and modern influences. Free/7 p.m. —Karen A. Mann

05.25 YANN TIERSEN @ CAT'S CRADLE

In the United States, Yann Tiersen is probably best known (when he's known at all) for providing the soundtrack to the acclaimed whimsical arthouse film Amélie. In a more forgiving world, however, he'd be known over here for the same things he's known for in his native France: being a genre-bounding collaborator, composer and songwriter of the highest caliber. The songs on his most recent album, Skyline, don't stay in one place for long, but the places they go are the sorts of destinations that few pop musicians could even hope to imagine all at once. With Piano Chat. $18–$20/8 p.m. —David Raposa

05.26 OLD BRICKS, ZACK MEXICO @ KINGS

This Saturday bill features two N.C. outfits fascinated by the mystery a nice wash of feedback can provide—granted they take it in different directions. On last year's City Lights LP, Old Bricks blur the pastoral beauty of their debut, filling in the space left within their hypnotic folk with subtle walls of shimmering guitar. The results retain Old Bricks' requisite twanging charm but magnify it into something modern and multifaceted. Coastal visitors Zack Mexico layer thick distortion onto mercurial surf-meets-indie rock that refracts hip-rattling riffs into a mind-bending force. Georgia's great Jane Jane Pollock opens. Free/10 p.m. —Jordan Lawrence

05.26 CORN AND THE COLONELS @ SAXAPAHAW RIVERMILL

If not for the slew of modern cars parked in the nearby meadow, it may seem like a time warp when eclectic string band Corn and the Colonels brings its lively batch of retro tunes to Saxapahaw's rustic farmers market. The quintet of acoustic alchemists cooks up a cohesive mix with guitar, bass, fiddle, banjo, accordion, washboard and kazoo—plus a pair of lead singers with the versatility to go from sultry jazz vocals to sassy Spanish. The Durham group injects its spirit into a number of dated styles, from old-time and ragtime to swing and jump blues, all spiced with a hint of zydeco and Latin rhythms. Free/6 p.m. —Spencer Griffith

05.27 NONHORSE @ KINGS

For almost a decade, Brooklyn's G. Lucas Crane has been cobbling together a makeshift stream of found sound and noise under the name Nonhorse. His work, his biography says, "focuses on information anxiety, media confusion, and recycled technology," a claim that is in every way met by the music: Fuzzy undercurrents of claustrophobic noise underpin his fascinating collages, forming a hypnotic base onto which he piles a mercurial sweep of distorted vocals, chopped-and-screwed samples and arresting sound effects. Tense and unnerving without becoming off-putting, Crane's compositions occupy a rare middle ground between provocation and accessibility. With Pam Finch, a solo set by Old Bricks' Andy Holmes and a noise collaboration between Lonnie Walker's Brian Corum and Diggup Tapes head honcho Nathan Price. $5/9:30 p.m. —Jordan Lawrence

05.29 DRAGGED INTO SUNLIGHT @ SLIM'S

The British metal corps Dragged Into Sunlight is committed to its obscurity. In photographs, the band's unnamed members appear masked, like violent criminals. On stage, the band performs under a heavy cloak of darkness and smoke. 2009's Hatred for Mankind lives up to the ominous presentation. Its charred and churning mass of black-metal riffs and death squeals make for a malevolent listen. Here, the scuzzy grime of South Americans like Sarcofago meet chilly European death and black metal. The dense drumming under it all creates a powerful undertow, as disorienting as it is relentless. Richmond's Cough and Chapel Hill's MAKE open this titanic triple-header. $7–$9/ 9 p.m. —Bryan C. Reed

05.29 GHOUL @ KINGS

In a genre sometimes defined by absurdity, Ghoul excels at ridiculousness: Wearing masks and assuming pseudonyms in a failed attempt to conceal its members' actual identities, Ghoul churns out old-school thrash metal more notable for its outfits and revivalist veracity than for most anything else. They've kept the gag going for more than a decade now, refining and redressing their atavistic blitz across several full-lengths. They're joined by Richmond's Occultist, a much more pummeling outfit that infuses its basics with the paroxysms of hardcore and sheets of noise—straightforward, still, but snarling just enough for frisson. Also, Backslider and Priapus. $10–$12/ 9 p.m. —Grayson Currin

05.30 BATILLUS @SLIM'S

Brooklyn's Batillus manages to squeeze two pieces of jagged, tangential doom onto its side of a recent 12" split with Whitehorse. The best is the 11-minute rager "Feral," a sidewinding plod that corrodes the vocals with sheets of noise and strengthens the guitars with scrims of feedback and whispers of distant ghosts that add the perfect dose of intimidation. If you like your metal to hang around and circle slowly through a room like noxious gas, Batillus is now better at finding fresh soil on this side of Neurosis than ever before. In Raleigh, they begin a long run of shows along the East Coast and through the Midwest; expect extra urgency from a squad that has plenty of patience with its prey. Shadows open. $6/ 9 p.m. —Grayson Currin


SATURDAY, MAY 26

Rocky Votolato - COURTESY OF THE ARTIST

ROCKY VOTOLATO

From: Seattle
Since: 1999
Claim to fame: Somber singer-songwriter serenades

While Rocky Votolato first made a name for himself as a guitarist and frontman for Waxwing, he found himself writing a fair share of non-electric songs that didn't fit in with the group's emo and post-hardcore modes. Indeed, even before Waxwing called it quits in 2005, it seemed pretty clear that Votolato's future was in music with a decidedly less aggressive bent. His latest album, Television of Saints, isn't much different from his earlier LPs under his own name, but if earnest and literate songcraft is your preference, then Votolato's unfailing consistency is a very good thing. With CALLmeKAT. At LOCAL 506. $10/9 p.m.

VS.

Polyphonic Spree - PHOTO COURTESY OF THE BAND

THE POLYPHONIC SPREE

From: Dallas
Since: 2000
Claim to fame: Pop pomp & psychedelic circumstance, with matching robes

Tim DeLaughter's magical musical menagerie hasn't actually released a new record since 2007's The Fragile Army. In comparison, former Spree guitarist Annie Clark, as St. Vincent, has recorded three LPs in the same span. Maybe it's just a matter of logistics, as convening the 20-piece group to make an album certainly seems like an ordeal. In that light, these folks coming together to go on tour might make this show seem like a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. But while the Spree's ebullient choral-rock majesty might hit the right notes for some, the more understated road traveled with steadfastness by Rocky Votolato makes his show seem the better way to go tonight. With New Fumes and Sweet Lee Morrow. At CAT'S CRADLE. $17–$20/8 p.m.—David Raposa

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