All genres are prone to eventual speciation, or to specific fractures within a general style that lead to new subgenres, niches and stylistic cliques. From indie rock's various splinter cells to rap's variegated "real hip-hop" factions, the evolutionary lines are often traceable if subtle, with the dividing characteristics sometimes as specific as a beat, an album or an era.
Rhode Island's Pilgrim and Seattle's Samothrace, then, are both doom metal acts, meaning they make slow, viscous and paradoxically beautiful/brutal music built by big riffs and lumbering rhythms and projected by stacks of amplifiers so big that they often overshadow the musicians playing them. But the young Pilgrim plays old-school doom, where the almost midtempo momentum pushes the song from start to finish without too many interruptions or abstractions. Last year's Misery Wizard bowed to Candlemass, exalted kings and legends, and described great tales of adventure—grandiose heavy metal of yore, staggering ahead in a thick Thorazine haze. Samothrace, however, takes extreme liberties with the vestiges of doom, dropping the vocals into a subterranean death rattle, shifting between extended passes of quiet and calamity like a post-rock act and treating a riff like an origin rather than an endpoint. On last year's two-track, 35-minute LP Reverence to Stone, Samothrace inched closer toward the abyss of funeral doom, a heavy metal subdivision so suffocating that hell itself seems near. Demon Eye opens. WEDNESDAY, FEB. 27, AT SLIM'S. $6/9 p.m.
Here's a happy accident: Buckwheat Zydeco and C.J. Chenier, no less than the son of the King of Zydeco, were booked to play Duke's large Page Auditorium tonight. But Buckwheat took sick, sending Chenier to scramble for a local gig. He landed naturally at Papa Mojo's Roadhouse, the Triangle's Deep South haven that's owned by Chenier's former roommate and bandmate, Mel Melton. This setting makes much sense for Chenier's music, a sweaty and intoxicating version of Zydeco updated with funk thickness and rock pizazz. It'll be a wild one. THURSDAY, FEB. 21, AT PAPA MOJO'S. $22–$25/8:30 p.m.
NAKED GODS, THE INVISIBLE HAND
In 2013, the domain of "indie rock" is happily one not dominated by dudes with electric guitars; harps coexist with Korg keyboards, and laptops conspire with drum machines. But Boone's Naked Gods and Charlottesville's The Invisible Hand punch through the present and pull from the recent past, cranking six strings through amplifiers in memory of what was called college rock. Naked Gods stretch it out, emphasizing the Southern swill of its Built to Spill-sized jams. Meanwhile, The Invisible Hand keeps it tight, turning its rock songs into enthusiastic, winning pop gambols. Spooky Woods open. THURSDAY, FEB. 21, AT TIR NA NOG. Free/9:30 p.m.
During his tenures with The Posies, Lagwagon, Big Star and R.E.M., Ken Stringfellow accumulated enough experience with inescapable melodies that he could've cashed in by starting a commercial jingle-writing company. Instead, after many years between solo albums, Stringfellow returned last year with Danzig in the Moonlight, a record whose playful title is reflected in the restless mix of styles—abrasive experimentalism, tropicalia-informed pop, jangling rockers and charming little keyboard drifters. Though experienced, Stringfellow remains refreshingly adventurous. Spooky Woods open. TUESDAY, FEB. 26, AT LOCAL 506. $11/9 p.m.
Using her singing as her chisel, Irish-born and Tennessee-based Maura O'Connell has carved a career for herself unlike that of few others. Though she still relays the folk songs of her homeland, O'Connell is an acolyte of country music and bluegrass who not only takes on the tunes of American heartbreak and hope but also backs her full, soulful singing with arrangements that nestle up to modern country. That said, her 2009 album Naked with Friends found her leaving the band behind for a set of stunning a cappella duets with pals such as Dolly Parton and Alison Krauss. Her voice is an age-old emerald, capable of glimmering alone and in a vivid, contemporary setting, too. SATURDAY, FEB. 23, AT THE ARTSCENTER. $18–$26/8 p.m.
Between the personnel and the dancers in the house, this should be a busy night offstage and onstage. Orquesta GarDel and Africa Unplugged are big bands, respectively using 13 and seven members to build empires of sound. With horns, percussion and voices, GarDel has moved swiftly from the academy to the clubs. Similarly, Africa Unplugged took shape around Atiba Rorie, a music school grad working as a conduit of West Africa's jubilant rhythms. SATURDAY, FEB. 23, AT KINGS. $10–$12/9 p.m.
SOME ARMY, SMALL HOUSES
One of the Triangle's best new bands, Some Army dresses impressionistic songs with suitable sounds—astral keyboards, distant harmonies, askance guitars smoldering alongside surface-level sparks. Philadelphia's Small Houses serves as an outgrowth of one world-wrinkled voice, suggesting the stark Americanaof A.A. Bondy. Onward, Soldiers open. TUESDAY, FEB. 26, AT THE PINHOOK. $5/9 p.m.
SOUTHERN CULTURE ON THE SKIDS
Barbecue, NASCAR and Jesse Helms: These chief North Carolina signifiers help shape the backbone of Southern Culture on the Skids, a 30-years-running Tar Heel institution that delights in exalting and/or smirking at the state's backwoods icons. Openers The Woolly Bushmen back the shimmy of sidewinding rock 'n' roll with hall-of-hallucinogens organ and a rhythm section that treats a direct beat like the holiest grail. SATURDAY, FEB. 23, AT BERKELEY CAFE. $15–$18/9 p.m.
Shawn Rosenblatt must not sleep: In a few years, he's released a mass of high-on-harmonies, big-on-rhythm pop as Netherfriends. He's toured without much of a pause, even going on a yearlong run where he played one show, wrote one song and recorded said song in every state. With Canine Heart Sounds. THURSDAY, FEB. 21, AT THE PINHOOK. $7/9 p.m.
Though they perform under her name, Kelley McRae and Matt Castelein make music that capitalizes on symbiosis. On love songs anchored by unexpired hope for the future, McRae's voice soars while Castelein drags behind. adding gravity to songs that might otherwise escape the atmosphere. SATURDAY, FEB. 23, AT BROAD STREET CAFE. Free/8:30 p.m.
RA RA RIOT
The nimble chamber-pop drama of Ra Ra Riot's most recent albums wasn't for me, but at least it came with conviction. The tension felt real. But this year's Beta Love—a dance record that makes Passion Pit seem like the inventors of electro-pop—might even disappoint longtime adherents. If you're the kind to tag bands for sell-out moves, well, here's the easiest imaginable target. Pacific Air opens. MONDAY, FEB. 25, AT CAT'S CRADLE. $15–$17/8:45 p.m.
If you are not yet of pubescent age, Mushroomhead—a troupe of bros dressed in comic book masks and uniforms alternately meant to make them look like assault victims or war criminals-in-training—is probably terrifying. But if you've ever watched a scary movie and/or listened to most any heavy metal or industrial music (or Korn, for fuck's sake), they land on the wrong side of menacing or, for that matter, interesting. Five bands open. SUNDAY, FEB. 24, AT LINCOLN THEATRE. $15–$20/7 p.m