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Music worth leaving the house for


Contributors: Rick Cornell, Grayson Currin, Robbie Mackey, Chris Parker, Chris Toenes

Thursday, May 10

The Clientele, Ladybug Transistor, Bowerbirds, Cat's Cradle

Two Merge Maypoles from opposite sides of the pond—The Clientele and Ladybug Transistor—meet in Chapel Hill. Clientele's God Save the Clientele settles them into a gentler waking dream-state, with the tempo and tone remaining at an even keel, and breathy intimacy illuminating Alasdair Maclean's lush lyrics. The Ladybug's drummer, San Fadyl, passed away suddenly from asthma on April 26, but they are soldiering on with this tour. Bowerbirds open. $10/ 9 p.m. —Chris Toenes

Friday, May 11

Pit Er Pat, Priestbird, Local 506

To these ears, Pit Er Pat's evolution has been strange but fortunate: An early EP showed promise, a first LP ennui, a second EP intrigue and a second LP more promise than ever. They're on their way: Pyramids proves Butchy Fuego is one of the more provocative drummers in indie rock today, building rhythms defined by empty space and splintered firmament, letting keyboardist/vocalist Fay Davis-Jeffers and bassist Rob Doran slip through that unorthodox matrix with playfulness and skill. This is keyboard pop, twisted, cut and glued. Speaking of strange, NYC three-piece Priestbird (nee Tarantula AD, now with more vocals) braids chamber ensemble melodrama with stoned-and-sudsy sludge. New rock polytheists? We'll see. $8-$10/ 10 p.m. —GC

The Drams, Last Train Home, Hideaway BBQ

Last year's Jubilee Dive from The Drams (featuring Brent Best and a couple of his fellow former Slobberboners) was a big, juicy, totally un-self-conscious rock record that knew when to pile word upon word and when to just growl, as well as when to paraphrase Elton John lyrically and when to quote Soul Asylum and Mott the Hoople musically. And in other sound-shifting news, Last Train Home's new Last Good Kiss finds the band moving from country-rock to country-soul and beyond. $10-$12/ 9:30 p.m. —RC

Ben Gibbard, David Bazan, Jonathan Rice, Cat's Cradle

Gibbard is a terrific talent who's parlayed his gifts into a variety of projects: Postal Service, All-Time Quarterback and, of course, Death Cab for Cutie. His acoustic strum, tender tenor and savvy lyricism make him a natural solo performer. With any luck he'll play "Carolina," a sad, leaving song written with Andrew Kinney (American Analog Set). Last year, preacher's kid David Bazan (Pedro the Lion) released his debut solo disc, Fewer Moving Parts, divided between electric and acoustic versions of his gruff, doleful tunes. Jonathan Rice's earnest Americana debut, Trouble is Real, benefits from his weathered vocals, reminiscent of Mason Jennings. Weird bill. 9 p.m. —CP

Cowboy Junkies, Carolina Theatre

It's unlikely the Cowboy Junkies will ever outrun their brilliant, languid take on one of rock's greatest songs, "Sweet Jane." But singer Margo Timmins' deep, narcotic vocals swaddle the songs in a lulling undertone, as her brothers Peter and Michael swing from the loping country-inflected sound of their Trinity Sessions debut to the more upbeat feel of Pale Sun, Crescent Moon. Their latest, At the End of Paths Taken, is another fine release infused primarily with their desperate, brooding ache and a sense of foreboding worthy of Appalachian murder ballads. Richard & Linda's talented progeny, Teddy Thompson, opens. $25-$31/ 8 p.m. —CP

Guitar Shorty, Blue Bayou Club

One of the most charismatic blues performers alive, Shorty's stage theatrics include somersaults, back flips and standing on his head, all without missing a lick. An old friend of Jimi Hendrix (Shorty married his half-sister), Shorty's blistering electric guitar work sidles easily from rock to Chicago Blues, while the politically driven title track off his latest, We The People, shows he's still got the fire in his belly. $16-$20/ 9:30 p.m. —CP

Saturday, May 12

Mono, Grails, Worlds End Girlfriend, Local 506

It naturally feels shallow to describe Japan's Mono as the sex, but—in the increasingly crowded field of quiet/soft/quiet post-rock that the band helped build—they're that good. Mono moves in graceful, long, smooth arches, their build to climax burning like intense lust finally glimpsing fulfillment. Their lovemaking isn't mechanical or rushed either, traits increasingly rare in their arena. Grails builds sprawling, emotionally impressionable instrumental anthems, though their compositions sometimes feel like dilettante affairs, or hurried psychedelic excursions through guitar fuzz, or subverted Americana super-structures. Still, they're occasionally triumphant. Also, Worlds End Girlfriend. $10/ 9 p.m. —GC

David Olney, The ArtsCenter

Now in his mid-50s, Nashville veteran (he was the leader of The X-Rays, and he's been covered by Emmylou Harris) David Olney certainly has the right to make his albums how he wishes. Indeed, he's a fantastic storyteller, drawing intriguing plotlines and holding them open with all expectation of mystery. Still, his latest, One Tough Town, occasionally overplays a Fat Possum-like grit and pulls too heavily on a Waits-like vaudevillian madness. He's at his best when he's settled like a sage, as with a slinking cover of Townes Van Zandt's "Snake Song," muted strings pushing up against a perfectly sinister sneer and a reversed, reverbed electric guitar. Smart, incisive and compelling: That's the Olney that should wow you in Carrboro. $13-$15/ 8:30 p.m. —GC

Fred Eaglesmith & the Flying Squirrels, Hideaway BBQ

While Eaglesmith hails from Ontario, his heart's in Texas, tracing the dusty rustic roads, lonesome losers and lost souls that fascinated Townes Van Zandt and his alt-country ilk. Born to a farm family, Eaglesmith released his first album in 1980 and he's maintained a hearty touring schedule for a quarter-century, even as his volume of recorded output picked up during the last decade. Eaglesmith's narratives are nicely wrought, balanced on his raw, cracking baritone and the rich, loping twang of his backing band. $18-$20/ 9:30 p.m. —CP

Sunday, May 13

Dale Watson & His Lonestars, Hideaway BBQ

With his Sun-in-the-early-'60s countenance and his "play me a real country song" demands, Dale Watson has always had plenty of Johnny Cash in him. When Watson recorded his new From the Cradle to the Grave in a cabin once owned by Cash, despite plans to the contrary, he couldn't help but channel the Man in Black's honest Tennessee thump. Frankly, I can't think of a better medium. $12-$15/ 8:30 p.m. —RC

The Polyphonic Spree, The Pierces, Cat's Cradle

Dallas 23-piece band/circus/cult/celebration The Polyphonic Spree treats life like Fox News treats the Bush administration: Despite personal, veiled misgivings over how bad stuff can get, they preach it like a gospel with love, throwing their hands in the air and exulting in the present. How else could a band turn Nirvana's "Lithium" into a humanitarian revival where the music—voices, pianos, harp, strings, drums, rock guitars—becomes the mood-elevating drug? They're touring in advance of their TVT debut, The Fragile Army. White robes optional. Show up early for the secularly angelic The Pierces. $15-$18/ 8:45 p.m. —GC

Maura O'Connell, Southern Village

With this Mother's Day show, ArtsCenter regular Maura O'Connell, she of the Irish siren voice, takes to the village green. (The event is a collaboration between The ArtsCenter and Southern Village; the rain location is The ArtsCenter.) And if the gifted interpreter once again dips into Malcolm Holcombe's song bag for his stirring "To the Homeland," tears will be shed for Moms far away when O'Connell reaches the "Miles and miles between us to fill" line. $14- $16/ 7 p.m. —RC

Monday, May 14

Gwen Stefani, Akon, Lady Sovereign, Walnut Creek Amphitheatre

On the second single from Gwen Stefani's so-so-sophomore release, The Sweet Escape, St. Louis-born, Senegal-bred Rap&B mainstay Akon might seem like the former No Doubt star's lackey. But Mr. "Smack That" did plenty more than lend a few hypeman "whoo-hooo"s and "weee-hooo"s to the track's toy-scale doo-wop: He produced the whole damn thing. Expect a much-more-than-hook-dude role from him Monday night, where he and his Sweet Escape partner have enlisted the help of UK pop-hopstress Lady Sovereign for a celebration of 13-year-old girls' wallets. $10.50-$69.50/ 5:30 p.m. —RM

Tuesday, May 15

Frog Eyes, Alex Delivery, Audubon Park, Local 506

Frog Eyes is led by Carey Mercer, the Swan Lake third and former Destroyer backer who sings or wails like a man on fire or, more still, a man who wants to set himself on fire, all nervous about the present and working hard to get better than the past. "Oh baby, I've got to know, when you sing that song ... I feel this deliverance that is gained from the RIGHT," he bustles almost unintelligibly on their latest, Tears of the Valedictorian. Mercer's melodies and missives—coiling around some of the best lyricism happening right now—come in ecstatically implied smears, huge swathes of near- constant sound streamlined into condensed, nonstop whirls of meaning. $8-$10/ 9 p.m. —GC

Deadstring Brothers, Hideaway BBQ

This Detroit quintet resurrects the sound of Exile-era Stonesy country rawk. The keyboards add a slightly different flavor to this now- popular style, giving it a little of The Band's soulful swing. But the twang trumps everything, paying ample tribute to Keith's dulcet riffs, while singer/guitarist Kurt Marschke harmonizes with tambourine/maracas player Masha Marjieh. Though their albums are good, you're better served seeing them live. $8-$10/ 8:30 p.m. —Chris Parker

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