This week's guide contains:
YES, PLEASE: Pterodactyl; The Postmarks; Randy Weeks; Ox vs. Thunderbird
EH, WHATEVER: Ted Leo & the Pharmacists; Lacona; Stars of Track & Field
VS: Allman Brothers Band vs. Allen Toussaint
LAST WEEK'S PARTY: Birds of Avalon
SONG OF THE WEEK: Drive-By Truckers' "Gravity's Gone"
08.14 PTERODACTYL @ NIGHTLIGHT
Fine ambassadors of sunshine noise, Pterodactyl finesse little bangles of harmony-swoon from a Technicolor feedback musculature. Now calling Brooklyn home, these basement urchins wowed the Oneida dudes into releasing their debut. And for good reason: Pterodactyl launch into a kosmiche-throb—a metronome anchor holding their vessel fast amid rogue waves of fuzz—until hypnosis takes over, pulse losing to free-reign cacophony. Live, in the cozy, sometimes-secret den of the Nightlight? Now that's a good sweat. With Bellafea and Glass Witch. $6/ 9:30 p.m. —Chris Toenes
08.09 THE POSTMARKS @ LOCAL 506
Pop purists so sublimely sweet the word twee chases them sometimes, Miami trio The Postmarks are led by Tim Yehezkly's breathy vocals. Sedate words on heartbreak come brightened by plucky, sometimes wistful instrumentation, so that forecasts of cloudy skies and sunburst sounds cascade into the hooks of dreams. With Kaiser Cartel and Soft Company. $8 / 9 p.m. —Kathy Justice
08.11 RANDY WEEKS @ HIDEAWAY BBQ
With a voice like Willie Nelson and peculiar phrasing evocative of Neil Young, Los Angeles legend and bandleader Randy Weeks bends the ambiguities of relationships into spry, vaguely power(-ful) pop songs. His breezy comfort with a hook is uncanny. Alas, he opens for The Swingin' Johnsons, who could have spared us that band name. $10/ 9:30 p.m. —Grayson Currin
08.12 OX VS. THUNDERBIRD @ THE RESERVOIR
A great California-made amalgam of heavy-as-hell rock bands, Ox vs. Thunderbird buries its eight rudders deep into the crests and troughs of Botch's start-stop fervor, slowing it down to a juggernaut drug stomp inspired by the bands of Matt Pike's past and present. Not brutal, but certainly insistent. With the excellent Tooth and The Fucking Wrath. Free/ 10 p.m. —Grayson Currin
08.10 TED LEO AND THE PHARMACISTS @ CAT'S CRADLE
Nearly every review of Ted Leo's music points out the New Jersey (uhh, by way of D.C.) everyguy's similarities to "blue- collar rockers" like Springsteen, Kevin Rowland, Billy Bragg and Elvis Costello. Rightly so. Even in Chisel, the '90s punk-pop outfit he founded at Notre Dame, Leo's rock was remarkably transparent and straight-forward, lacking any real subcultural claim, most often resembling a hodgepodge of the past 40 years of music recorded by, well, white people—the growl of punk, the bounce of power-pop, the "brains" of politico-folk. These parts, in Leo's music, are greater than their sum, which is altogether too scrawny, giddy and bookish to add up to much of anything. $12-$14 / 9:30 p.m. —Robbie Mackey
08.08 LACONA @ BLEND
"Vaulting ambition, which o'erleaps itself." More like Kid F, Chicago quartet Lacona stretches its reach irrespective of possible grasp: Either melding crazy, whacky, weird beats with badly written rock songs or making stripped-down, confident, late-'90s radio cuts (remember Our Lady Peace?) with quirky sonic detail, Lacona takes the ideas of the more popular "indie" bands of the last decade (Radiohead, Wilco, Belle & Sebastian) to mawkish places. They also release CD singles. In 2007. This one's optimistic. Be cautious. 10 p.m. —Grayson Currin
08.10 STARS OF TRACK AND FIELD @ LOCAL 506
Not only can Stars of Track and Field not write a great pop hook, they skirt around their tepid ones with unlovable sonic sprawl, the sort of half-handed rock hero thing Coldplay does. Except they don't do it as well. At best, Stars of Track and Field is a not-as-good Radiohead or a less-adventurous TV on the Radio. Look at me, I'm staring at the concrete! With The Cary Brothers and William Fitzsimmons. $10 / 9 p.m. —Margaret Hair
ALLMAN BROTHERS BAND
From: Macon, Ga.
Championship claim: Arguably the mantle of live recordings, 1971's At Fillmore East.
Rock and Roll Hall of Famers (class of '96) and true Southern music icons, the Allman Brothers built their sound on a blend of rock, country and blues, perhaps creating Southern rock in the process. But don't ignore the soul in that sound: The late Duane Allman lent his guitar to many a Muscle Shoals session, and brother Gregg can work a deep-soul ballad and make a Hammond organ weep. Their fondness for stretching out lives on, for better or worse, in the jamband movement, but their particular alchemy can also be heard in such places as, say, the sparkling last three minutes of Wilco's "Impossible Germany." The Allman Brothers come to WALNUT CREEK AMPHITHEATRE as they do every year. The Drive-By Truckers and Mofro open. $19-$44/ 5:30 p.m.
From: New Orleans, La.
Championship claim: You've heard "Workin' on a Coal Mine," right?
Rock and Roll Hall of Famer (class of '98) and true Southern music icon, Allen Toussaint built his sound on a blend of R&B, soul and pop, perhaps creating funk in the process. But don't ignore the country in his sound: He recorded Harlan Howard's "The Chokin' Kind," and Glen Campbell had a country-pop hit with Toussaint's "Southern Nights." A post-Katrina increase in visibility and last year's collaboration with Elvis Costello led to a greater awareness of Toussaint, but students of liner notes have been on to Toussaint and his work as a producer/ composer/ arranger/ pianist/ recording artist for decades. Allen Toussaint is at N.C. MUSEUM OF ART for the first time. $7.50-$25/ 8 p.m. —Rick Cornell
08.11 KENNEBEC @ THE POUR HOUSE
Kennebec is growing up. Formed through childhood friendship when singer Troy Smith and guitarist Jeramy Blackford grew up together in the community outside of Fuquay-Varina that is the band's namesake, Kennebec focused early on stylistic dualism—two guitars and two voices belting out ol' country boy soul. With the release of the band's debut, though, it's clear that the simplicity of old Kennebec is a shadow of the past. Troy Smith has pushed Kennebec beyond simple songwriting about love and well into the dark-hearted realm of the great Southern rock ballad.
And he's got a bright band, too: Kennebec's greatest strength is its ability to bend past its acoustic-pop origin. Hook-heavy college rock with an insistent beat sidles up to strummed acoustic numbers or gritty rock songs with squalling guitar lines. The credit, in large part, goes to the five members' mixed musical heritage, says drummer Mike Rosado. "We want people to realize that we're not one sound. There are five different people in the band with five different influences. It all comes out, the good and the bad. But that's what we're all about—letting it all out and never getting boring." With Fey. $5/ 9 p.m. —Kathy Justice
08.02 BIRDS OF AVALON @ SLIM'S
Thursday night was one of those rare Capital City moons with four really good rock bands (Birds of Avalon, Colossus, The Bleeding Hearts, Red Collar) at four different clubs. Maybe it was the mix of multiple-show pressure and the ease of a crowded hometown bar (with several audience members wearing Kings shirts), but this was the best I've seen BOA yet: Three new songs had renewed, ramshackle energy, cells charged with not-precious abandon. And how about those guitars on "Horse Called Dust"? Welcome Sir Arthur & His Royal Nights, too. —Grayson Currin