The band name Mountains certainly conveys the epic intentions of the duo comprising the craftsmanlike composers Koen Holtkamp and Brendon Anderegg. Even their shortest instrumental sprawls are epic voyages, with subplots indicated by interconnecting motifs and gradual builds toward grandeur. But whether because of the '70s bros of Mountain, the massive riffs of Canada's Black Mountain or the simple menace of a mountain's topographical hulk, the name falsely connotes a sort of toughness that this pair forgoes. Rather, their vastness is one of shimmering beauty and subtle revelation more akin to traversing the Great Plains than scaling sets of Rockies. Especially on the band's latest and best effort to date, Centralia, acoustic guitars are nestled within beds of synthesizer glow that change shape gradually, tracing changes in contour and view over time and never without warning. There's no need to tie off for safety with Mountains; these are surefooted and certain landscapes. With Feltbattery. WEDNESDAY, FEB. 20, AT NIGHTLIGHT. $6/10 p.m.
Though Menomena's career began with two incredibly adventurous and alluring albums (and a brilliant, oft-overlooked dance score), the trio's 2010 LP, Mines, felt a bit like a slog of simply attempting to meet old expectations. Those cacophonous drum breaks and enormous baritone saxophone lines still clawed inside intricate and outlandish pop anthems, but the formula felt somehow tired. But in 2011, Brent Knopf left Menomena, an exit that essentially cut the tension from the trio and put the new duo back in motion, like a rubber band whose potential energy has been set free. Concomitantly, last year's Moms felt revitalized and vibrant, even as it worked through the band's most thematically daunting lyrics to date (parents and deaths, lovers and disappointments). The songs rush and leap, climb and charm, happily proving that sometimes it's possible to salvage a sinking ship. With Guards and Righteous Brothers. WEDNESDAY, FEB. 20, AT MOTORCO. $14–$16/8 p.m.
In his solo sets, drummer Tatsuya Nakatani treats his percussion pieces—an array of gongs and bowls, snares and cymbals, sticks and bows—as extensions of himself. He bends over these instruments, pushing his body into them as he pulls astonishing tones from them, transmogrifying instrumental elements you thought you knew well into brazen new beasts. In his two Triangle engagements this week, he'll attempt to share that devotion and diligence with extended casts. THURSDAY, FEB. 14, AT MARSH WOODWINDS, eight area improvisers, all playing gongs, will follow Nakatani's direction for his aptly named Gong Orchestra. (8 p.m.) And on FRIDAY, FEB. 15, AT NIGHTLIGHT, he will join a quartet that includes saxophonist Crowmeat Bob, cellist Chris Eubank and trombonist Jeb Bishop. $5/10 p.m.
Being surprised by the sounds on a post-rock record in 2013 might be one of the biggest, well, surprises I've had lately as listener. But that's the case for last year's Waking Season, the lengthy and rewarding third album by Massachusetts instrumentalists Caspian. Though it explores the slow builds and sudden payoffs you might expect from that subgenre association, Caspian works through a core of modernity, not only augmenting its guitars with thoughtful electronics but also giving the rising action and the textures that bolster it as much attention as the coda. What's best, Caspian seems invigorated by making this music, replacing the form's usual solemn genuflection with gestures of exaltation. Junius and MAKE open. SATURDAY, FEB. 16, AT LOCAL 506. $10/8 p.m.
CUSSES, WHATEVER BRAINS, PC WORSHIP
Want to witness two ways young rock groups translate career success differently in 2013? Show up early, then, for New York's PC Worship and Raleigh's Whatever Brains, two incredibly prolific, compelling and strange bands that skewer undeniable, brain-candy melodies with broken drum loops, assailant sheets of noise and lunging dynamic sensibilities. And in an era when online image can mean quite a bit for a young act, both PC Worship and Whatever Brains use their web presences as mere depots for the strangling beauties they make. But Savannah trio Cusses, led by commanding singer Angel Bond, turn the underground tenacity of the openers into a marketing pitch, streamlining it for bulk presentation. And after releasing only one album, the band's website suggests a major-label portal, with boasts of MTV-endorsed videos and newsletter invitations. Come early and, perhaps after being befuddled by the scrambled rock of the openers, leave early, too. WEDNESDAY, FEB. 20, AT CASBAH. $7/9 p.m.
At best, bands don't make transitional albums; their style morphs so the shifts don't seem conscious, so the seams don't show as effort. But that's the exception, while Eternity of Dimming, the third album from Michigan alt-country/indie rock chimeras Frontier Ruckus, reflects the rule. Having jumped from The Avett Brothers' launching pad of Ramseur Records to the more rock-oriented Quite Scientific, Frontier Ruckus has now de-emphasized the sad-eyed twang of its earlier successes, swapping it out for an Urban Outfitters-like stylized lilt. Matthew Milia still sings so sweetly (and doles out incisive observations), but the songs that support that sound are still in flux, their aim now clearly set on the au courant pole of their sound. Mary Johnson Rockers and The Spark open. THURSDAY, FEB. 14, AT LOCAL 506. $10/9 p.m.
WOUNDED WARRIOR PROJECT BENEFIT
"My illustrious, vivacious band": That's how funk impresario Chit Nasty once described his backing outfit from stage, explaining well their sharp and buoyant party music. Those adjectives, along with diverse, also serve as apt descriptors for the talent at this benefit for the vaunted Wounded Warrior Project. Toon & the Real Laww twist and shoot through hip-hop, while Jessica Long is the bright-voiced pop singer above her bracing rock backup. DJ Shahzad spins. SATURDAY, FEB. 16, AT MOTORCO. $10–$15/9 p.m.
CHATHAM COUNTY LINE
Chatham County Line hasn't released a new studio album in three years, but that's not a symptom of dormancy: Aside from last year's live CD/DVD set Sight & Sound, they've been raiding the folk festival circuit from behind one microphone, touring Norway with that country's folk statesman Jonas Fjeld and, per a news update during one of their Scandinavian runs, recording some new songs, too. The state's most exquisite updaters of our traditional pedigree reprise their appearance in one of the state's prettiest rooms, FRIDAY, FEB. 15, AT FLETCHER OPERA THEATER. Sold out/8 p.m.
In Prypyat, Duncan Webster plays acoustic guitar and Leah Gibson plays cello. Though that sounds like the setup for a folk music duo, ensconced in the corner of the coffee shop nearest you, that's not sufficient for this pair. Rather, their songs slink and slide with the structural nebulousness of post-rock and twinkle with the astral harmonies of neo-soul. Prypyat is an intimate little band that's broadcasting big ideas. The Moon and You and Underhill Hall open. SATURDAY, FEB. 16, AT THE CAVE. $5/10 p.m.
Led by vets of Black Lips and Golden Triangle, K-Holes are, as you might expect from that lineage, a scuzzy and mean garage-rock band. But especially on last year's Dismania, their songs come lit by piss, vinegar and a flood of psychedelic substances, with wild tones splashed all over these vitriolic romps. If you like your Nuggets washed ashore by No Wave, K-Holes offer delightful menace. FRIDAY, FEB. 15, AT THE CAVE. $5/10 p.m.
What if real life worked like a band, so that, when times were tough and budgets were slim, you could go back in time, take back that job you quit and maybe even get paid more? Given the recent tedium of Bright Eyes and Conor Oberst's material under his own name, that's exactly how the reunion of Desaparecidos—Oberst's outlet of political punk anthems, which has released but four predictable songs since its reunion last year—feels. For a band that howls for revolution, isn't this a bit obvious? SUNDAY, FEB. 17, AT CAT'S CRADLE. $20–$23/9 p.m.
A Jersey Shore pioneer and an influence to The Boss and, consequently, the legion that followed him, Southside Johnny brushed with fame multiple times but has ultimately exerted his biggest influence via Springsteen proxy. And, really, that's best where it's kept: Southside Johnny's big band lays on the Jersey bravado with suffocating, wet-blanket thickness, staking his claim with a sledgehammer. FRIDAY, FEB. 15, AT CAROLINA THEATRE. $26–$46/8 p.m.