This week's guide contains:
YES, PLEASE: Omar, Del McCoury Band, Blue Highway, Kapow! Music & more
EH, WHATEVER: Bang Camaro
VS.: High on Fire vs. Agent Orange
INTRODUCING: Stella by Starlight
LAST WEEK'S PARTY: King Britt Sylk130 Collective Presents "Philly Soul Tribute"
SONG OF THE WEEK: Todd Snider's "East Nashville Skyline"
02.02 OMAR @ LINCOLN THEATRE
On British-soul artist Omar's 2006 album Sing (If You Want It), the nu-soul mainman injects his R&B textured songs with whip-crack snares, exuberant horns and brassy beats. He's certainly lent an ear to mainstream hip hop, borrowing its bounce and bump with élan, but the English soul god's songs mainly showcase sublimely smooth rhythms that give testament to the rich history of R&B. His honeyed vibe cuts close to classic Stevie Wonder (a fan and a guest on Omar's latest), and his silky smooth vocals give a warm energy and crackle to each cut. With Fertile Ground and YahZarah & Mixed Water. $25- $29/ 9 p.m. —Kathy Justice
02.03 DEL MCCOURY BAND @ MEYMANDI CONCERT HALL
Del McCoury's voice—a heart-piercing instrument that's somehow both mournful and joyful—is such that it gives credence to cliché: Plenty of folks would pay good money to hear the legend sing the Nashville phonebook. And his star- and son-stocked foursome are with him step for masterful step. $24-$34/ 8 p.m. —Rick Cornell
02.02 BLUE HIGHWAY @ BERKELEY CAFE
Defined by their near-ferocious picking and majestically hi-tempo licks, Tennessee's Blue Highway bristles with winsome energy while echoing the loneliness of bluegrass past. What's more, their commanding lyrics swell and swivel above the roots-twang stomp. $20/ 2 p.m. —Kathy Justice
02.03 KAPOW! MUSIC & MORE @ NIGHTLIGHT
Two Indiana acts join with two Chapel Hill standbys: Grampall Jookabox is a bit bewildering, singing disco hooks and songbird airs over zig-zag loops and sometimes letting loose with a backwoods stomper. The band's on tour with Doog. With co-ed vocals and a rubber-band rhythm section, The Nothing Noise makes nervy acoustic-jangle pop with a twittering heart, while Bu Hanan's Kapow! Music sings sweetly over playful beats and keys. —Grayson Currin
02.06 BANG CAMARO @ LINCOLN THEATRE
After The Darkness, Bang Camaro was inevitable. The vehicular signifier of high school in the name captures the band's juvenile sensibilities, as the Boston quintet resurrects the cock-rock ghosts of glam with a strong dose of Poison (smell the Aqua Net!), a dash of arena-sized riffage (feel that noize!!), and lyrics that'd embarrass the average fifth grader ("Hell bent for liquor/ I chop my breakfast on a mirror/ Swallow the razor." Rebellion!!!). With so little to say (most songs barely register more than a chorus), there's time for plenty of mindless soloing, which might be better if the licks sounded less like cheesy castoffs from Dokken or Great White. If you generally find fart jokes subtle, maybe you've got yourself a new band. $8-$10/ 8 p.m. —Chris Parker
HIGH ON FIRE From: Oakland, Calif. Metal bands trailing the smoke that hovers in the path blazed by High on Fire founder and former Sleep axeman Matt Pike are legion. Luckily, the 'heads bowing before Pike's riffs haven't engendered complacency in the man himself, as High on Fire's fourth LP, last year's relentless Death Is This Communion, is its tightest and, for that reason, one of Pike's finest moments as a bandleader. His predictable riffs were a consistent gripe in Sleep, but he's challenged himself with a beastly, battering rhythm section and shorter solos that count for more. And that voice? If his monstrous howl hadn't yet summoned a small army (it has, as the show's openers Saviours and Car Bomb will prove), we'd have cause for worry. Luckily, this three-piece herd—the clear winner—is too loud for griping. They silence almost all challengers. With a Life Once Lost at CAT'S CRADLE for $12-$15 at 8 p.m.
Claim to fame: Various associations with the first word of its name
HIGH ON FIRE
From: Oakland, Calif.
Metal bands trailing the smoke that hovers in the path blazed by High on Fire founder and former Sleep axeman Matt Pike are legion. Luckily, the 'heads bowing before Pike's riffs haven't engendered complacency in the man himself, as High on Fire's fourth LP, last year's relentless Death Is This Communion, is its tightest and, for that reason, one of Pike's finest moments as a bandleader. His predictable riffs were a consistent gripe in Sleep, but he's challenged himself with a beastly, battering rhythm section and shorter solos that count for more. And that voice? If his monstrous howl hadn't yet summoned a small army (it has, as the show's openers Saviours and Car Bomb will prove), we'd have cause for worry. Luckily, this three-piece herd—the clear winner—is too loud for griping. They silence almost all challengers. With a Life Once Lost at CAT'S CRADLE for $12-$15 at 8 p.m.VS.
From: Placentia, Calif.
Claim to fame: 1980's "Bloodstains" and (for another generation) a namedrop in a Bowling for Soup song
Skate-punk icons Agent Orange have been mixing surf and punk two decades longer than High on Fire has been a band (though Asbestos Death/Sleep were cranking amps at the start of the '90s), so it's little surprise they've got one less original member than Pike's power unit (that would be one) and followers that have once called Top 40 home (Bowling for Soup, Lit). At this point, though, innovation and progression for the band aren't much of a talking point, and their persistent touring schedule seems like an endless victory lap for founder Mike Palm with a disposable crew that can be updated whenever someone gets tired of playing the same songs to the same crowds. They've got their place, sure, but it's safely in the second tier tonight. With Nightmare Sonata and No Revolution at VOLUME 11 TAVERN at 8 p.m. —Grayson Currin
02.05 STELLA BY STARLIGHT @ LOCAL 506
The Duke trio of seniors Stella by Starlight got an unexpected big break in November, when they were selected as "The Best Music on Campus" from a pool of 1,700 bands by MTVu, MTV's collegiate network available only on campuses across the country. If you're unfamiliar with the award winners, that's understandable: Stella by Starlight—guitarist and vocalist Sonny Byrd, drummer Greg Laird, keyboardist and programmer Nathan Fowler—formed just a year ago. In that time, though, they've managed to cultivate a surprisingly dynamic approach to college pop, vacillating between the disco-lit romps of VHS or Beta and gauzy ballads that warp The Bends. Six-track debut EP The Electric Sugar never stays anywhere too long, meeting the ends of those extremes with consistently strong keyboard flourishes and well-made hooks. Decide if these guys are your college rock: They play a $6 show with Gray Young and Sleepsound at 9:30 p.m. —Grayson Currin
LAST WEEK'S PARTY
01.26 KING BRITT SYLK130 COLLECTIVE PRESENTS "PHILLY SOUL TRIBUTE" @ DUKE
Damn, has there ever been this much of a party in the usually staid confines of Reynolds Auditorium? King Britt, a mover in the neo-soul scene, was hosting a tribute with singers and his live band. What we got was pure, rippling, ecstatic soul music, mostly led by the voices of Jaguar Wright and Lady Alma Horton. The group opened with a Philly classic, Labelle's "Lady Marmalade," and the crowd's energy built. Wright belted out a touching song of her own about her family, "Remember," rousing spirits further. By the time Horton had kicked off her boots to enter the aisles, pushing folks to dance during the disco-transition of "Last Night a DJ Saved My Life," not many were left sitting in the house. The blue-backlit stage had a disco ball spraying stars on its canvas, and—for a few hours—the room was something else entirely. —Chris Toenes