This week's guide contains:
YES, PLEASE: Michael Hurley, Kate Campbell, Spring Reggae Fest, The Rosebuds, Eisley, Sorry About Dresden/ Embarrassing Fruits, Cloud Cult, Nick Lowe/ Ron Sexsmith, Anti-Flag/ Street Dogs
VS.: Ra Ra Riot vs. Weedeater
VS.: Nick Lowe vs. The Roots
INTRODUCING: Soft Company
SONG OF THE WEEK: The Rosebuds remixed: Portastatic does "Silence by the Lakeside"
04.16 MICHAEL HURLEY @ UNC'S GERRARD HALL
The second rock-ish show at the newly renovated Gerrard Hall (next door to Memorial Hall, if you're looking) presents outsider folk legend Michael Hurley, who has been recording since the mid-'60s but only appreciated at large since the mid-'90s, when a score of younger acolytes began to sing his praises. Hurley released an excellent collection on Devendra Banhart's label last year. Hurley performs at Shakori Hills this weekend, but this unique setting is worth your Wednesday. $10/ 8:30 p.m. —Grayson Currin
04.18 KATE CAMPBELL @ PHILIP'S EPISCOPAL CHURCH (DURHAM)
Kate Campbell, a gifted Southern storyteller who just happens to wield a guitar and sit behind a piano, is a leading candidate to serve as posterwoman for long-running and hard-working singer/ songwriters with followings more devoted than large. And devotion is a fitting concept to cite in conjunction with Campbell's latest release, For the Living of These Days, a collection of songs of faith and inspiration recorded with fellow revered Southerner Spooner Oldham. $8-$15/ 7 p.m. —Rick Cornell
04.18 SPRING REGGAE FEST @ CAT'S CRADLE
Originally from Ethiopia, Dub Addis delves into its native country's rhythms with a penchant for roots reggae. Similarly, Mystic Vibrations—Jamaicans transplanted to South Carolina—weaves uplifting vibes with deep roots. The Amateurs starts things off, with DJ Ras J spinning "roots and culture vinyls." $9-$12/ 9:45 p.m.—Chris Toenes
04.19 THE ROSEBUDS @ MUSEUM OF NATURAL SCIENCES (PLANET EARTH DAY)
The gloomy dark wave burble of Night of the Furies will never warm my heart like "Kicks in the Schoolyard," which sounds like the Undertones getting its ass kicked by Buddy Holly's Crickets. The 'Buds versatility is impressive nonetheless. From the stripped-down bounce of its debut to the moodier reverb-drenched shimmer of 2005's Birds Make Good Neighbors to last year's Furies, Ivan Howard and Kelly Crisp haven't stood still. What connects the albums are pretty, well-crafted melodies encasing this wistful hope—to escape the past like a mending heart trying to slip its melancholy noose. With Mommie, Beemones (Burt's Bees employees playing The Ramones), The Rail Readers, Viswas Chitnis and Kickin' Grass. The Rosebuds play at 4:45 p.m. Free/ 1:30-7 p.m. —Chris Parker
04.20 EISLEY @ CAT'S CRADLE
Four siblings and a cousin, Eisley became a family band in 1997, when the youngest member was just eight years old. Although it can still be a bit precious on occasion, the angelic-voiced DuPree sisters combine considerable melodic strength and a Where The Wild Things Are imagination. Bright indie rock with surprisingly dark accents. With The Myriad, Vedera and the Envy Corps. $12-$14/ 7:30 p.m. —Spencer Griffith
04.20 SORRY ABOUT DRESDEN/ EMBARRASSING FRUITS @ THE RESERVOIR
Sorry About Dresden doesn't play often, but its guitar-rich thump and punk-ish crunch still cuts to the quick: Eric Roehrig's churn/burn vocals have gathered enough steam and salt over the years to make the band's old(ish) material shine brighter. Catch them tonight with Trekky Records' Embarrassing Fruits, a band whose dive-bomb guitars and Southern slant recall mid-'90s Chapel Hill glory. Free/ 10 p.m. —Kathy Justice
04.21 CLOUD CULT @ LOCAL 506
While playing the role of "the Grandson of Jesus" during a track from Cloud Cult's latest, Feel Good Ghosts, Craig Minowa sings, "Take my words with a boulder of salt." On Feel Good Ghosts, an album where Minowa and company try several dozen tricks (rap, vocoders, bigger beats, panned pianos) and land maybe three of them, that's probably sage advice. Still, when Cloud Cult walks the more favorable side of the divide between cloying and charming, it's as magnetic as any band in indie rock, combining chugging acoustic guitars, strident strings and charging rhythms into sweeping melodies that gather converts and disciples in a vision of the world that's been stricken by the death of a son but healed by the individual quest for happiness. A fantastic live experience. Just remember the salt. With The Forms and Sweater Weather. $8/ 9 p.m. —Grayson Currin
04.23 NICK LOWE/ RON SEXSMITH @ THE ARTSCENTER
In the past year, Yep Roc has presented two sides of Nick Lowe. There was the recent 30th anniversary reissuing of Jesus of Cool, Lowe's post-pub-rock masterwork. It came on the heels of last summer's At My Age, an album of soul and crooner pop Walton-on-Thames style, with Lowe as the Jesus of Even Cooler. Joining Lowe on the bill is Ron Sexsmith, who writes captivating melodies with an ease that most mortals experience only when composing shopping lists. $25/ 8 p.m. —Rick Cornell
04.23 ANTI-FLAG/ STREET DOGS @ CAT'S CRADLE
The music's not complicated or particularly original, but punk's never been so much about original thinking as a rebellious, in-this-together spirit. Both bands share this quality in spades: Anti-Flag cops freely from the Clash and skate punk, while the band called Street Dogs hits like Dropkick Murphys with more Naked Raygun and less alcoholism. Also, The Briggs and Fake Problem. $16/ 7:30 p.m.—Chris Parker
SUNDAY, APRIL 20
RA RA RIOT
From: Syracuse, N.Y.
Claim to fame: Energy and endurance
Ra Ra Riot brings cello and violin to the four-piece indie rock show, though the band depends more on élan than tension for grand effects. While traces of fellow string-bearers Cursive certainly line the band's big hooks, Ra Ra Riot's immediacy hinges on quick rhythms and an impatience with indie-rock aloof. Cellist Alexandra Lawn springs about the stage as she plays, and frontman Wesley Miles often encroaches the audience's space. In fact, after co-founding drummer John Ryan Pike was found dead last June, Ra Ra Riot hired a replacement at the behest of Pike's family and hit the road perhaps with even more fervency than before. L.A. headliners The Little Ones are mounting a buzz for a crisp, affable jangle, though that crispness may translate into stiffness post-Ra Ra Riot. At LOCAL 506 with A Rooster for the Masses. $8/ 9 p.m.VS.
From: Wilmington, N.C.
Claim to fame: This concert is April 20. The band is Weedeater.
Weedeater—a band that advertises its love of volume and substances in its name—is the day's dealer. Not that this 4.20 engagement really changes anything: Weedeater is among the most convincing, risky stoner metal bands in the country every day of the year, combining the mighty weight of drone and the torpid thrust of slow thrash in buzzed-ear anthems. Frontman "Dixie" Dave Collins comes from Southern stoner metal aristocracy, having done time in Buzzoven and Bongzilla and claiming a cousin in Cape Fear mainstays Sourvein. His voice is scratched from wear, smoke and whiskey, barking imprecations over mighty drum slaps with an enthusiasm that's contagious. Debauchery and bleary eyes seem like a daily ritual for the lifelong road dogs in Weedeater. Question is, can you hang on a Sunday? At VOLUME 11 TAVERN with H.O.W., Medusa Stone and Isabelle's Gift. 8 p.m. —Grayson Currin
WEDNESDAY, APRIL 23
From: Suffolk, England
Claim to fame: Penning "(What's So Funny 'Bout) Peace, Love & Understanding"
From early '70s British pub rock (cutting his teeth with Brinsley Schwartz) to the new wave/ punk explosion (producing seminal albums by Elvis Costello, the Pretenders and The Damned), Lowe has seen it all. Power pop nuggets like "Cruel to Be Kind" and "So It Goes" keyed his early solo career, and his keen wit made him an ideal collaborator for Costello. Lowe's narrative gift has sung over a string of solo albums during the last two decades burnishing a warm, torch country style bubbling with subtle sophistication. Lowe's smooth croon and limber melodies are tough to grapple, and his knowledge of the game ensures well-crafted artistry. At THE ARTSCENTER with Ron Sexsmith. $25/ 8 p.m.VS.
Claim to fame: Great live band, the best 'fro in music, and launching Scott Storch
The Roots are relentless. Though the press lost the plot chapters ago while chasing the scent of some store-bought, robo-ing rappers, the story and sound stayed strong in the wake of the band's '99 breakthrough, Things Fall Apart. Black Thought's menacing, narrow-eyed vocal swagger may be conscious, but it still seeks to decapitate. Missing the goodtime undercurrent that infuses much of its music, the stark tone of 2006's Game Theory may have cost The Roots commercially. Still, that's no reflection of quality. Try to name a hip-hop act that's remained as vital as this crew, now going on its tenth album, Rising Down, due next week. At DUKE UNIVERSITY'S MAIN QUAD with Third Eye Blind and Carbon Leaf. Free/ 6 p.m. —Chris Parker
04.19 SOFT COMPANY @ THE CAVE
Chapel Hill sextet Soft Company began as a creative outlet for new Triangle resident Missy Thangs. Eventually friends convinced her to post some songs she'd recorded on her home computer. Tentative, and wishing to remain mysterious, she dubbed her alter-ego, Missy Thangs, only to be surprised by the positive response.
"It transformed because people wanted to hear the music. I hadn't thought that far ahead," she says. Her second attempt at putting a band together triumphed, cadging members of familiar local acts Erie Choir, Hotel Motel and Spacelab.
"I ended up with these ringers," says Thangs. "It's become this crazy new sound. I've had to do a lot of new arrangements. It's pushing my songwriting and arranging skills to the max."
The psych-inflected keyboard-driven sound isn't complicated. It's catchy and straightforward by design, like a two-minute pop song, but with plenty of idiosyncrasy. The band is finishing up a six-song EP with Greg Elkins, due this summer. With Americans in France and Seth Kauffman. 10 p.m. —Chris Parker