Run the Jewels: EL-P and Killer Mike
Run the Jewels is a new collaborative album between Killer Mike and El-P. Mike is a husky Atlanta rapper who has kicked around the majors, rapped on a Grammy-winning number and worked with Jay-Z and OutKast. Former Company Flow anchor, Definitive Jux proprietor and New York underground impresario El-P has trended away from those mainstream signifiers, using his and his friends' wide-eyed vision of what hip-hop might be to help test the limits of its definition.
Though they might seem like strange bedfellows, Killer Mike and El-P are in a dangerously good place together right now, creating one of music's most potent partnerships—and three of the best hip-hop records of the last year. They leaned on each other for their respective solo outings last year, but it's this year's Run the Jewels that finds them catapulting off one another, bruising industrial beats with a mix of Southern rap cliché flips, social browbeating and abstruse lyricism. Though they both sound like themselves, their union seems to make them go a bit harder, too, working to do more with less space. Run the Jewels isn't the masterpiece some have called it in a year of somewhat weak hip-hop albums, but it's a concise and aggressive platter that scrambles apparent geographical and subgenre divides. With Kool A.D. Friday, Aug. 9, at Cat's Cradle. $18–$20/9 p.m.
In the last half-decade, the California multi-instrumentalist Frank Fairfield has issued a handful of his own acclaimed records and archival collections of near-extinct 78 RPM singles through the fantastic roots music emissary Tompkins Square Records. But in May, he self-released the 12-song Ingleside in a limited edition of 500 simply printed compact discs. The homespun quality suits Fairfield, an ancient soul trapped in lanky, 28-year-old physical form. Though there's just one man bowing the fiddle or fretting the banjo on these numbers, they're visceral and quaking, with each note played and word sung stinging like a raw feeling. During "Cottage by the Sea," for instance, Fairfield longs for the innocent elation of childhood, a hint of falsetto curling forward and out, the imprint of prepubescent memory set free. Fairfield makes very old songs feel very new and personal, as though he's just plucked them from a back-pocket notebook. Saturday, Aug. 10, at Saxapahaw Rivermill. Free/5 p.m.
When a small clutch of Southern metal bands such as Baroness, Kylesa, Mastodon and ASG rose to wider acclaim nearly a decade ago, Weedeater sat perfectly poised as the bastard son of the sounds and scenes that had collectively spawned them. Hard-living, hard-touring party animals, Weedeater was an incontrovertible monster live, with frontman "Dixie" Dave Collins barking above his nasty bass lines until he'd actually puke and rally onstage. They've seemingly slowed their pace and partying in recent years, and their most recent LP, 2011's Jason ... The Dragon, doesn't bring the same bong-hit bravura as its predecessors. But when I saw them last year, they were still a marvel of imprecise mechanization, with a rhythm section so bloated and perfectly suited for the stoner metal task that even the weaker songs still felt big enough to exert their own gravitation field. With Lo-Pan and American Sharks. Friday, Aug. 9, at The Maywood. $10/9 p.m.
For five years, Connecticut's Landing was a rushing river of releases, offering up more than a half-dozen LPs of psychedelic sprawl and warped pop shimmy while George W. Bush was in office. But after 2006's Gravitational IV, they mostly checked out, as if swallowed by the overwhelming spans of their own output. But last year's self-titled return, which they'd been writing in the background during the interim, moves with the refinement of a band that never really checked out, in spite of the absence. They get stoned and go long, textures bobbing in and out of each other like buoys moving against the tide, or they keep it concise and crisp, playing tuneful charmers that wink with the same bleary eyes as their more expansive instrumentals. Thursday, Aug. 8, at The Pinhook. $6/9 p.m.
Knoxville quartet Royal Bangs aren't shy about sound: Though they specialize in tidy three-to-four minute tunes, they cram enough music and motion within the individual tracks to form a small symphony. But they keep it tight, taking care to keep all the layers and fills and samples directed always forward and never backward. The forthcoming Brass is their most dense and definitive collection yet; its union of head-on hooks and interwoven flourishes should fill a strange gap between garage rock and electronic music, markets that currently seem prime for mining. Monday, Aug. 12, at Kings. $10/9 p.m.
John Dee Holeman
Last week, Jack White accused The Black Keys' Dan Auerbach of ripping off his popular blues revisitations. Meanwhile, John Dee Holeman—born in Hillsborough, N.C., at the dawn of the Great Depression—has been playing blues for most of eight decades. His guitar work—an assured canter that bobs and weaves between the basic strums—is a marvel of history, and infinitely more fulfilling and approachable than celebrity gossip. Saturday, Aug. 10, at Sertoma Amphitheatre. Free/6 p.m.
Chain and the Gang
For about five years, Chain and the Gang has been the spirited and sassy new musical concern of Ian Svenonius, the punk firebrand philosopher and former member of Nation of Ulysses and The Make-Up. Chain and the Gang runs loose and wild with atavistic blues structures, guitar sinew and ramshackle harmonies delivered with give-a-fuck esprit. Like a few drunk friends posted up in some dive's corner with some amps, a drum kit and a very tall soapbox, they scold you and themselves and everyone else, but you love them just the same. With Waumiss. Wednesday, Aug. 14, at The Pinhook. $8/9 p.m.
Local audiences might recognize Wild Cub lead singer Keegan DeWitt, a longtime writer of bracing roots rock and Roman Candle collaborator. But his new gig with Nashville's Wild Cub recasts his grace with hooks and verses in fading neon, delivering electrified pop that finds a sweet spot between Passion Pit's unmitigated ebullience and The Postal Service's muted romanticism. The quintet's debut, Youth, sports a handful of hooks that could find their way to the dancefloor. With Natalie Prass. Wednesday, Aug. 14, at Kings. $8–$10/8:30 p.m.
Bill "The Sauce Boss" Wharton
Bill Wharton is a blues guitarist with a tinny, piercing tone, and a blues singer with a hoarse, aged voice; on fiery renditions of standards, the Florida bandleader plays and howls with satisfactory gusto. But Wharton's reputation stems largely from his stage show, which finds him suited in a chef's outfit and cooking a massive pot of gumbo as he performs. Nicknamed The Sauce Boss, he pours his own hot sauce into the simmer and gets back to the blues before, at set's end, serving up the onstage food. There's a shtick worth seeing, hearing and tasting. Saturday, Aug. 10, at Papa Mojo's. $15–$20/9:30 p.m.
Two-guitar Raleigh quintet Necrocosm sources its frenetic metal largely from Scandinavia, applying the early drive of Emperor to the memorable blasts of At the Gates. They thrash and lurch, roar and stop, ringing enough melodies through their melee to leave an impression. They open for thrash bros Gross Reality, releasing a new EP called Human Resign. Also, Morose Vitality. Saturday, Aug. 10, at The Maywood. $5/9 p.m.
A former Triangle songwriter now based in New York, Jason Harrod claims indirect connections to several of indie rock's biggest stars in the press materials for his new album, Highliner. The man who produced it, for instance, has worked with Sharon Van Etten and The National, while he also gets some help from members of the Danielson Famile. But just as you and your co-workers three floors down have little in common, Harrod's milquetoast folk-rock has little to do with that. Instead, the perfectly pleasant songs suggest Harrod's wandering around the erstwhile H.O.R.D.E. Festival, trying to find the second stage for an early-afternoon slot. Friday, Aug. 9, at The ArtsCenter. $7–$15/8 p.m.
All Stars Tour 2013
The lineup for the 2013 All Stars Tour comprises nearly a dozen bands, specializing in metalcore, deathcore, mutated hardcore and prickly emo. The good news is that, between Every Time I Die and Terror and Chelsea Grin, you can sample the leading lights of said subgenres; the bad news, though, is that said subgenres are mawkishly dramatic and consistently generic, making this is a marathon of very little return on investment. But if you've got Tuesday off and money to spare... Well, this is happening. Tuesday, Aug. 13, at Lincoln Theatre. $22.50–$25/2:45 p.m.