This week's guide contains:
YES, PLEASE: Jeff Crawford/Big Fat Gap, Slick Rick, Ghost to Falco
VS.: The Loners vs. The Accelerators
INTRODUCING: Jemima James
LAST WEEK'S PARTY: Colossus
SONG OF THE WEEK: Trekky Yuletide Orchestra's "Baby, It's Cold Outside"
12.23 JEFF CRAWFORD/BIG FAT GAP @ CAT'S CRADLE
One of the year's most pleasant surprises, Something for Everyone—the handmade, self-released debut LP from Roman Candle bassist Jeff Crawford—is a delightful collection of pop songs that smile and wink through autumnal sadness. Blending country warmth with an Abbey Road accessibility, Crawford makes the sort of pop music that feels fresh but familiar. He'll open for Big Fat Gap, another shining example of what Rick Cornell calls The Echo: that is, the roots of North Carolina music sprouting everywhere and coming together in bands like this. Free/ 9:30 p.m. —Grayson Currin
12.20 SLICK RICK @ CAT'S CRADLE
The patch-wearing, big-pimping, London-by-way-of-the-Bronx rapper's never shied from a sexy innuendo or a ribald rhyme. His skillful storytelling, crisp, musical delivery and comic sensibility contribute to golden age classics like "The Show" and "Children's Story." Tonight, he comes with help from Connie Price and The Keystones, Percee P and DJ Haul. RSVP for the free 9:30 p.m. show at www.scion.com/livemetro. —Chris Parker
12.22 GHOST TO FALCO @ NIGHTLIGHT
Former N.C. native Eric Crespo is the one constant of Portland's Ghost to Falco. That is, aside from his lyrical darkness, which he wraps in a parched sonic haze of feedback, textural guitar and percussion and penetrating synthesizer. Crespo's dark-hearted songcraft pipes folkish simplicity through a sludge of angst, ultimately bludgeoning ears and breaking expectations. With Horseback and Secret Boyfriend. $5/ 10 p.m. —Kathy Justice
12.22 MIDTOWN DICKENS & MORE @ LOCAL 506
This bill is as assorted as the hors d'oeuvre selection at your Christmas party: Durham's Midtown Dickens magnetizes with playful and personal acoustic ditties, while Language Arts throws back to hip-hop lore with positivity and potency. California's Lindsay Cooper bellows slinking, simplified cabaret tunes with a dash of insolence. For more on Jemima James, see Introducing. $5/ 9 p.m. —Grayson Currin
12.22 WEEKEND EXCURSION @ LINCOLN THEATRE
Technically, there's little wrong with Weekend Excursion's sonic construct, which stretches from soothing James Taylor-textured ballads about love and adolescence to angst-injected, post-Hootie anthems. Their hooks are romantic and angled, and they do what they're meant to do. But five years after their last record, Weekend Excursion clings to the pubescent melancholy with a grip that's starting to get a little creepy. Weekend Excursion still sounds like it's hoping to land a gig in a high school gym or a spot on the closing credits of Dawson's Creek. Hell, Katie Holmes is married to Tom Cruise by now. How many reunions is this? Save your money and dust off those old yearbooks for a trip through memory lane or better yet, watch WB reruns. $10-$12/ 9 p.m. —Kathy Justice
FROM: Raleigh, N.C.
CLAIM TO FAME: Reuniting as Kings bid goodbye
The Loners are irrepressible rockers. The confident, knuckle-cracking snap of the downbeat betrays a rhythmic impertinence implicit in their garage blues strut. They circle around choruses with the satisfying chug of jet-fuel funny cars, the blustery pistons giving way to a greasy, barroom crackle. You won't outflank these Raleigh rebels, who've been at it long enough to know better, and still don't give two shits either way. They've got an ornery, dirty attitude reeking of the Seeds or Standells delivered with a straight-ahead jab to the solar plexus or a last-ditch knee to the jewels. They're not proud, but they're plenty loud. At SLIM'S at 10 p.m. with The Suburban Sweethearts. Tickets are $3. Hurry over from the Hideaway after The Accelerators set.
FROM: Raleigh, N.C.
CLAIM TO FAME: Don Dixon-produced '80s labelmates of the Long Ryders
Like the charm of a coquettish smile, a clever one-liner and a saucy dip of shoulders, the Accelerators' roots rock come-on is designed for disarming finesse, not brute force. Gerald Duncan and his co-conspirators have carried on for a quarter-century, though they were most active during its first half, with three albums of catchy, jangle pop that was more Scruffy the Cat than Guadalcanal Diary. They beguile you with a sparkling hook, and reel you in with Duncan's reedy, easy-going twang. If a bit of an artifact, they still sound spry thanks to an agility that renders their challengers flat-footed targets. At HIDEAWAY BBQ at 9:30 p.m. with Bradley. Tickets are $8. Catch this, then speed to Slim's. —Chris Parker
12.22 JEMIMA JAMES @ LOCAL 506
The daughter of a New England folk singer, Jemima James grew up in a household of singing and playing. She started writing songs at the age of 13. At 27, she moved to Long View Farm Studios, the fabled rural Massachusetts outpost where the Rolling Stones would practice and acts like Aerosmith, Peter Wolf, Arlo Guthrie and Pat Metheny would record. James helped tend the farm and the studio and helped care for the mercurial talents that came to work there: She rode horses with John Belushi ("Nice guy—not that funny on a diet," she writes) and suffered Bill Wyman's complaints about the farm's English muffins. Her songwriting career led to several sessions at the farm, but—despite connections and a publishing deal—James never achieved the fame her solid songs like "Sensible Shoes" and "Precious Love" promised. James now calls Durham home, and she's once again embraced the folk basis of her rock. $5/ 9 p.m. —Grayson Currin
Raleigh's Downtown Event Center is finally picking up some slack left by Kings: Friday, the sound was tolerable, the turnout was commendable and the lineup was good. A Kings-worthy crowd trickled in as Columbus, Ohio's Slide Machine pounded out fantastic organ-driven psych fuzz like fellow 1970-philes Black Mountain and Comets on Fire. Wilmington's Thunderlip killed its trademark axe-driven sass (sleaze?). And Colossus shredded triple-guitarmonies to clenched fists and raised bottles. It's good to see the DEC stepping up its game a bit. —Rich Ivey