CHELSEA LIGHT MOVING
When news emerged in late 2011 that Kim Gordon and Thurston Moore—the forever-young first couple of indie rock—would separate, their band of the last 30 years, Sonic Youth, soon went on indefinite hold. Despite the workhorse output and touring schedule of the band, from its New York infancy through its major-label tenure, no new dates or recordings surfaced.
But it soon became clear that the chasm had become a catalyst: In the last 18 months, Gordon has released a sterling string of broken-signal singles and albums with guitarist Bill Nace as Body/Head. Drummer Steve Shelley has launched a new record label, and guitarist Lee Ranaldo is busy preparing his second itinerant singer-songwriter album since the split. Moore, of course, has always been prolific, issuing noise platters and assembling one-off collaborations as though he were stockpiling a college application with extracurricular activities. Since the split, he's actually slowed and focused, touring with a quartet under his own name to support 2011's beautiful Demolished Thoughts before folding that unit into a new band under the handle Chelsea Light Moving. Supported by powerful drummer John Moloney, guitarist Keith Wood and multi-instrumentalist Samara Lubelski, Moore sounds re-energized on the band's forthcoming debut. During "Burroughs," he italicizes his voice amid a malevolent punk chug, shouting and howling as though punk's about to break yet again. Opener "Heavenmetal" includes some of his most inspired singing in years, with a dose of soul adding vulnerability to his elliptical imagery. After the 2011 split, Moore—and every member of Sonic Youth, for that matter—could have retreated into early retirement, or at least awaited a hefty reunion payday. But their distinct, tenacious pursuits of new aims only reaffirm the power of the original unit. With Talk Normal and Delicate Steve. WEDNESDAY, MARCH 6, AT KINGS. $15/8:30 p.m.
During the last decade or so, one musical gift of living in the Southeast has been the vantage it's provided to watch the ascent of the Drive-by Truckers. Though Mike Cooley and Patterson Hood have been painting guitar-embossed pictures of bad men and romantic women, poignant protagonists and tyrannical politicians for nearly two decades, their national star took its time to rise. The Triangle—a quick drive from their homebase in Athens—has served as a secondary incubator for the Truckers, a band that turns the specters and stereotypes of Southern rock into dozens of reasons to believe in family, friends and electric guitars. TUESDAY, MARCH 5, AT HAW RIVER BALLROOM. $22–$25/8 p.m.
Been a tough week? Want to get lost for an hour and simply sway? It's hard to imagine an album more therapeutic than Invisible Life, the latest from New York's Helado Negro. As though building beats from behind a dense fog, founder and foundation Roberto Lange allows his instruments and vocals to exist as one, wrapping through one another in a web of eternal texture. Tropical electronica or electronic Tropicália: The distinction is yours. Thanks to his work with Prefuse 73 and Bear in Heaven and his collaboration with siren Julianna Barwick, Lange has long seemed a footnote; Invisible Life should put his name in title font. With Auburn Kettle. SATURDAY, MARCH 2, AT MOTORCO. $8/9 p.m.
Dave Hartley is the busy bassist of The War on Drugs and an outspoken advocate for equality in the NBA. He's also the playful mind behind Nightlands, a blissed-out, one-man, retro-pop outfit that makes yacht rock safe for dancing. Oak Island, the second Nightlands LP, is a gorgeous and triumphant little record, with rubbery bass and silly beats casting delightfully light grooves beneath cascading harmonies and tessellated horns. His Danish tourmates in Efterklang trade Hartley's vibe for mechanical and sometimes magical chamber pop, with violins and horns and shout-aloud choruses. With Onoheim. FRIDAY, MARCH 1, AT KINGS. $10–$12/9:15 p.m.
SPIDER BAGS, FLESH WOUNDS
Here's a living, kicking and screaming study of what it can mean when folks say "garage rock": With two guitars, a drum kit and give-it-all-you-got vocals, Flesh Wounds sear through songs that are, at the core, ebullient R&B. They add grunge-lifted grit and a little country sadness, though it's all in direct service of that central mission. But the great Spider Bags turn their garage rock into a vision quest, finding new ways to express parties and hangovers, puppy love and adult heartbreak. They shamble in country weeds, sojourn in South-of-the-Border exotica, swivel through instrumental jams and return again and again to relentless and rollicking rock 'n' roll that's better for the trip it's endured. THURSDAY, FEB. 28, AT SLIM'S. $5/9 p.m.
The jazz quartet Tarbaby starts with incredible themes—bold bass lines that stick to your sternum, lithe saxophone melodies that bubble and bloom, piano chords that bounce between the poles. Then, navigated by incredible drummer Nasheet Waits, they abuse it all, twisting their motifs into dense dins that dissipate without warning and with grace. FRIDAY & SATURDAY, MARCH 1 & 2, AT CASBAH. $10–$24/9 p.m.
In late February, Bombadil received favorable tour press in the Spartanburg Herald-Journal, the newspaper that services the northwest corner of South Carolina. That's minor ink, but it shows that, after health problems caused them to put their adventurous and exultant pop on indefinite hold, Bombadil is working to make up for lost momentum. They'll release a new album, Metrics of Affection, in July. With Christy Smith. SATURDAY, MARCH 2, AT CAT'S CRADLE. $10–$12/9 p.m.
MARC BROUSSARD & THE DIRTY DOZEN
At his worst, young Louisiana singer-songwriter Marc Broussard uses his tar-pit voice to growl out adult contemporary pap. At his best, Broussard mirrors the melting-pot music of his native state, simmering affable songs in R&B and rock, 21st-century pop and neo-soul. He shares the stage with Louisiana institution The Dirty Dozen Brass Band. THURSDAY, FEB. 28, AT CAROLINA THEATRE. $37–$52/8 p.m.
Hilariously named Florida trio Hot Graves treat the term "crossover" like aim and anathema. Their furious mix of blitzing thrash, belligerent punk and black metal finds the middle ground of those forms, but Hot Graves handle the sound of punk drums beating up tough-guy riffs as a final destination, not a transition. With Shadows and Land Jaws. SUNDAY, MARCH 3, AT SLIM'S. $5/9 p.m.
COOL JOHN FERGUSON
Guitarist Cool John Ferguson will turn 60 in December, meaning that he's been working the same six strings for nearly six decades. A former tent-revival instrumentalist, Ferguson has recently carved his incisive electric lines into blues verve, a funky pulse backing his quick licks. SATURDAY, MARCH 2, AT BLUE NOTE GRILL. $10/8 p.m.
The word influential is often reserved for important acts or artists that spawned movements and broke barriers. Mixing metal and hardcore with bellicose rap, Hed p.e. is indeed influential, having inspired the turgid tides of nü metal that threw Woodstock 99 into flames. But MC Underdog makes Fred Durst sound like a wizard, Chuck D and/or Aristotle. What's more, it's hard to imagine a band that aims so clearly for ferocious landing more squarely on flaccid. MONDAY, MARCH 4, AT BERKELEY CAFE. $15/7 p.m.
THE RUBY SUNS
Christopher, the fourth album from New Zealand's The Ruby Suns, heads decidedly toward the dance floor, with bursts of big bass and heavy beats, manipulated vocals and criss-crossing harmonies. But leader Ryan McPhun seems not to have relented on his need for intricacy and tangents, meaning that these songs almost uniformly lose momentum as soon as they find any. Treasure the compelling moments, because they won't last. With Painted Palms. WEDNESDAY, MARCH 6, AT LOCAL 506. $9–$11/9 p.m.