Emmylou Harris & Rodney Crowell
Old Yellow Moon, the debut full-length collaboration between Americana paragons Emmylou Harris and Rodney Crowell, was nearly 30 years in the making. Crowell joined Harris' Hot Band in the mid-'70s, but despite all their harmonies, the two never created an album of their own. The bulk of Old Yellow Moon is worth considerable wait, as it finds Harris in heartbreaking form (the piano stunner "Back When We Were Beautiful") and Crowell in high spirits (the uproarious and upbeat "Bull Rider"). Its best moments, though, are reserved for those two voices, reaching out to one another like old friends and creating a sound that suggests both singers were born into this role. Harris and Crowell co-headline the bill with the Richard Thompson Electric Trio. Saturday, March 30, at Durham Performing Arts Center. $53.25–$74.25/8 p.m.
Lonnie Walker, Old Quarter
When Art Lord and the Self Portraits, the high-concept precursor of the more dance-driven Future Islands, reunited for one show in February, they asked an old East Carolina University pal to open. Since college in Greenville, Brian Corum had pushed his shuffle-and-sprint mix of indie rock and alt-country, Lonnie Walker, to ecstatic heights, with his loquacious lyrics wrapped around the increasingly tight and tense parts of his enthused backing band. Lonnie Walker has been conspicuously absent from area stages for more than six months, so Corum opened solo, relocating the same frazzled-nerve verve that epitomized Lonnie Walker's rapturous early sets. They finally return to the stage here, hopefully with the same lease of lucid energy Corum broadcast two months ago. Old Quarter lives up to the Townes Van Zandt reference of its name, pouring bracing pints of hurt from dusty bottles of country and rock. Also, Spooky Woods. Saturday, March 30, at Kings. $6/9:30 p.m.
Because LCD Soundsystem frontman and general credibility trust fund James Murphy produced their 2010 debut LP, Free Energy has long been beset by unfair expectations. Detractors have sniped their unbridled élan and undetectable irony, seemingly demanding that their love of big, dumb rock 'n' roll and instant hooks be put to some grander postmodern use. Fuck that: Free Energy use slick riffs, sufficient woodblock and several woo-hoos to make narcotic pop-rock that suggests your mom, your dad or you cruising the streets, top-down, with school out for summer. Sure, their second LP, Love Sign, deals with adult emotions and squashes claims of suspended adolescence. But for the moment, just shut up and jump in. Thursday, March 28, at Kings. $8–$10/9 p.m.
For nearly three centuries, fado has served as a syndicate of gorgeous sadness, with songs of loss and despair offered above intertwining instrumental lines of the pear-shaped, brightly pitched Portuguese guitar. But the form's acceptance and widespread popularity has taken its time, a lesson underlined by the rise of fadista Ana Moura. A personal performer who depends upon a parlor-sized intimacy even when sharing a stage with The Rolling Stones, Moura offers these mournful tunes in great cresting flutters, her back-room tone trembling just long enough for it to take off. She rose through fado's late-night club ranks to be one of the form's current and most captivating stars. Friday, March 29, at Carolina Theatre. $10–$42/8 p.m.
Carrboro singer-songwriter Wesley Wolfe came quickly from the gates, releasing two very good albums of mildly misanthropic yet somehow affable folk-rock in less than 18 months. Since September 2011's Cynics Need Love Too, however, his attention has largely shifted to his Tangible Formats label and his newfound vocation of individually lathe-cut records. But he's purportedly working on new material, and this early-evening showcase presented by WXYC 89.3 FM should give him a chance to try some of it. Ben Davis & the Jetts open with their urgent and irascible songs, which are heavy enough to be shaped like post-rock but charged and concise enough to be sized like post-punk. Also, Ye Olde Shoppe. Sunday, March 31, at Chapel Hill Underground. Free/5 p.m.
Young Rapids, Brett Harris
Based on the merits of songs alone, you should have heard Young Rapids before. Day Light Savings, the 10-tune debut from the Washington, D.C., quartet, offers an invigorated shot of complicated indie rock, with rhythms that skitter like Local Natives or The Dodos and songs that open into wide vistas, like those of The Walkmen. But the self-released disc mostly generated local-to-them press—a shame, since these songs are so fresh and fetching. They share the stage with Brett Harris, a fine pop craftsman happily back at the trade after something of a solo break. Also from Washington, Paperhaus opens. Tuesday, April 2, at Motorco. Free/8 p.m.
Teepee, Flesh Wounds
Miami's Teepee makes music much more dour than you might expect from the project's sunny geographical origins. Bottom-feeding on industrial percussion and Joy Division gloom, Teepee turns alluring melodies into inverted beacons, emitting signals of inviting darkness. Where Teepee sulks, Durham's Flesh Wounds sweat, churning out frantic and fussy two-guitar garage assaults. Also, Earthbound Misfits. Sunday, March 31, at The Cave. Free/10 p.m.
J Kutchma, Drug Yacht, Beloved Binge
This strange triptych includes the hard-luck songs of Jason Kutchma, a rock 'n' roll frontman who allows his new band, The Five Fifths, to decorate his thoughts with elegant but austere accessories. His songs are a new country manor with an eye for modern design. Drug Yacht broke up in 1998, but in the last year, the band's three dudes named Dave—Cantwell, Heller and Bjorkback—have recoiled their studded and surly bullwhips of math rock for a few shows. Opening is the delightfully quixotic and teasingly esoteric Durham duo Beloved Binge. Thursday, March 28, at The Pinhook. $5/9 p.m.
The band name RickoLus seems to be a twist on the name of its sole constant member, Richard J. Colado. But if the handle looks more like "ridiculous," let's go with that, as it says a lot about Colado's output. A multi-instrumentalist who has recorded reams of records in a shed behind his parents' house, Colado is stylistically restless, swerving from Merseybeat pep to melancholy pop within the course of a single song. That variety sometimes makes these songs flimsy, but it's fetchingly earnest, with kidlike enthusiasm eclipsing any proficiency shortfalls. Saturday, March 30, at The Cave. Free/7 p.m.
This four-band bill should sound like an audition for a major label. Arizona's Lydia adds Britpop shimmer to heartland indie ballads, coming across as the cool, dark-denim cousin of The Fray. Charlotte's Matrimony actually signed to Columbia in late 2011, and post-Mumford ascension, the content pump should be plenty primed for their busy, bubbling folk-rock risers. Most interesting here might be From Indian Lakes, who find the possibly lucrative intersection of Death Cab for Cutie sweetness, mewithoutYou intricacy and post-punk agitation. Also, Sweet Talker. Wednesday, April 3, at Local 506. $12/7:30 p.m.
Within the output of Lichens, the solo project of former 90 Day Man Robert Lowe, there are moments of transfixing beauty, enabled by drones so perfectly envisioned and realized that they seem to shut off the world around you. For the last few years, Lichens has seemed shut off from the world around it by repeating its past successes. The project has become an epitome of experimental lassitude—produce, plug, play and hope that new believers fall for the old tricks. With Curtains. Thursday, March 28, at Nightlight. $6/10 p.m.
Nataly Dawn is the light-voiced multi-instrumentalist of Pomplamoose, the Internet sensation that has, for years, made pop hits "organic" by playing them on largely acoustic instruments. In February, Dawn released How I Knew Her, her Nonesuch Records debut that drags her still-pleasant voice through a boneyard of flaccid ragtime, country, blues and bluegrass. These originals don't have what it takes to go viral. Tuesday, April 2, at Casbah. $10–$12/8 p.m.