This week's guide contains:
YES, PLEASE: Caltrop/ Fin Fang Foom, All the Saints, Serpents/ Cough, Don Dixon & the Jump Rabbits, The April Verch, King Britt, Asylum Street Spankers
VS.: Virginia Coalition vs. Brother Henry
LAST WEEK'S PARTY: Yeasayer
SONG OF THE WEEK: Mike Doughty's "White Lexus"
01.26 CALTROP/FIN FANG FOOM @ THE CAVE
Stone walls shall crumble! Caltrop and Fin Fang Foom—two bands that treat volume like a portal—share the subterranean space of The Cave tonight, which means your ears may ring until Monday. But it's worth the price: Caltrop (whose praises we also sing on page 26) crank a slow, strong swill of the blues until it bubbles into liquid metal. Fin Fang Foom makes post-rock sound like pre-apocalypse rock, their wide four-piece sound full of cliffhangers and omens. Small room. Big sound. Enthusiastic yes. 10 p.m. —Grayson Currin
01.25 ALL THE SAINTS @ NIGHTLIGHT
Why do psych groups give their songs lyrics? Sure, they give some matter of cohesion to things, but obviously it usually doesn't matter what (if anything) they mean. Atlanta trio ATS do the bed-of-Sabbath thing well. Just float on the clouds of guitar smoke, and don't pretend you care what they're singing. Cantwell, Gomez, and Jordan and Calabi Yau—two excellent Tar Heel trios of angularity and extremes—open. 10 p.m. —Chris Toenes
01.25 SERPENTS/COUGH @ VOLUME 11 TAVERN [THIS SHOW HAS BEEN CANCELED]
Occasionally splicing creepy movie snippets over loud, hazy guitars and demonic vocals, Richmond's Cough and Asheville's Serpents sound the part of metal bands. But their melodrama suggests a wink of humor. Still, sincerely heavy. 8 p.m. —Dan Strobel
01.26 DON DIXON & THE JUMP RABBITS @ LINCOLN THEATRE
Were there a radio channel dedicated to smart, well-crafted pop-rock, Dixon's '06 release The Entire Combustible World in One Small Room would play in heavy rotation alongside Andrew Bird, Elvis Costello and A.C. Newman. Ending a six-year songwriting hiatus, it moves with slinky grace and casual sophistication while considering life through the waning illumination of a "Sunlit Room" and offering to "shine a Maglite in the eyes of fear." While he's always demonstrated a savvy pop sensibility, he infuses Combustible World with a rogue's gallery of characters whose stories coalesce in an unanswerable question. Where can you find peace? $15/ 8 p.m. —Chris Parker
01.26 THE APRIL VERCH BAND @ HOLLY SPRINGS CULTURAL CENTER
Canadian fiddler, singer and step-dancer April Verch alters tradition by preserving it, stretching her lilting Emmylou Harris-styled croon over raspy wisps of sweet fiddle that shift gently from winsome harmonies of folk ballads to the rich vibrato of down-home jazz. Part of the PineCone "Listening Room" series. $14-$16/ 8 p.m. —Kathy Justice
01.26 KING BRITT @ DUKE'S REYNOLDS THEATER
The former Digable Planets DJ now demanded around the world for his remixes and his penchant for recontextualization, King Britt will use his Sylk130 to retrace the history of Philly Soul. This is a world-premiere in the must-see Duke Performance's Soul Power series. $5-$26/ 8 p.m. —Grayson Currin
01.29 ASYLUM STREET SPANKERS @ BERKELEY CAFE
The six members of the Spankers play their unpolished roots-rock with bad manners and a splat of spunk. But while that raucous attitude infuses the band's sound with grit and gusto, they're not one-trick ponies. These roots-revivalist share a militant commitment to the twang of yore. 8 p.m. — Kathy Justice
Thursday, January 24
From: Alexandria, Va.
Since: Junior high in the late '80s; first album in 1998
Claim to fame: The completely unfortunate, completely rhyming frathouse question: "Hey, you going to the VaCo show?"
An old press release for high-school bandmates Virginia Coalition opened, "The D.C. area has traditionally been known as a musical no-man's land." That, of course, is false, but perhaps not if you're in Virginia Coalition, a band whose waxed-and-polished college rock ignores the Dischord history of its home district and embraces Charlottesville—the small city two hours west that Dave Matthews calls home—as a spiritual epicenter. Except Virginia Coalition isn't even DMB good: Their recent studio work sounds like Gavin Degraw under Edwin McCain's meaty man-wing in 1998, and their live show takes the word "jam" as an invitation to lead inane chants and avoid songs that clunk. They've been playing since the late '80s, and—at some point—someone has to wonder.... Raleigh's Brooks Wood Band has spent the past seven years tightening their own three-chords-and-feelings college rock, and they're well on their way. At CAT'S CRADLE. $10-12/ 9:30 p.m.
From: Nashville, Tenn.
Since: Well, we're talking three brothers and a pal; first album in 2004
Claim to fame: Making other people's records better
Like Virginia Coalition, Brother Henry makes music that doesn't jibe with its town's reputation: Amid the sounds of Nashville proper, the four-piece casts tight but thick power pop, a shot of soul and mid-'90s indie rock injected right down the spine. Brothers Ned and David have worked on records by people from Slaid Cleaves and David Mead to Yo La Tengo and R.E.M., and their own work professes to that quest for immaculateness and variety. After all, they bring a cello to a guitar fight, and they come out just fine. Max Indian and Jeff Crawford, both Orange County locals, somehow keep landing college kids at their gigs, using the sharp edges of Indian's loud hooks and the sweet winks of Crawford's worn rubber soul like welcoming nods. Winner by knockout at LOCAL 506. $6/ 9:30 p.m. —Grayson Currin
01.25 SIMPLE @ THE CAVE
The leisurely ringing melody of Simple's "Harper Lee" picks up steam gradually, climaxing into a tangle of drone and chewy rhythms reminiscent of Dinosaur Jr. The catchy ode borrows from Boo Radley and cadges a line from Hamlet, which isn't entirely surprising when you discover frontman Chip Smoak (ex-North Elementary) just finished his Ph.D. in American Literature. It's from their forthcoming album, Songs from a Broken Hip: "I was on a walker so there weren't any rock practices for a while," says Smoak. "We had to practice acoustic."
The trio—rounded out by drummer Eric Hermann (Pleasant/Chest Pains) and bassist Rodney Merritt (Casting Company)—has been practicing for two years, but they'll finally get Songs out in March. Expect big, hook-lined hum backed by a dynamic backbeat, pulsing beneath woozy waves of distortion, and you'll enjoy tonight. With Prabir & the Substitutes and Jen Richelson at 10 p.m. —Chris Parker
LAST WEEK'S PARTY
01.17 YEASAYER @ LOCAL 506
After The Soft Company's characteristically bouncing rendition of The Burrito Brothers' "Older Guys," I was at least open to Sony's "huge priority," art-schoolers MGMT. Still, they're proof that diversity can be a downfall, as they dabbled in as many late '70s and early '80s rock sub-genres as possible. Yeasayer moved the young crowd more effectively by using a drum circle-gone-synth rhythm section, snaking fretless bass riffing and a yelping soul-full of vocal melodies. Though initially convincing, the set became a routine, the interesting sonics repeating themselves during each song. By night's end, I was pondering the future of something called "Yeasayer's World Groove Party," a new Brooklyn quartet finding success on the jam circuit. —Thomas Costello