This week's guide contains:
YES, PLEASE: Big Fat Gap, Cool Jazz Festival, Twin Tigers, Destroyer, Meat Beat Manifesto/ Raz Mesinai's Badawi, International Noise Conference
EH, WHATEVER: Bret Michaels, Tapes 'N Tapes/ White Denim
VS.: Josh Ritter vs. American Music Club
INTRODUCING: Rat Jackson
SONG OF THE WEEK: Destroyer's "Foam Hands"
4.25 BIG FAT GAP @ CAROLINA INN
Kicking off The Carolina Inn's Fridays on the Front Porch series, local bluegrass stewards Big Fat Gap gather six who are individually accomplished instrumentalists, with the banjo and fiddle playing as the standouts. Together, the band mates interact, feeding off of each other, sounding tight and comfortably virtuosic. Free/ 5 p.m. —Andrew Ritchey
4.26 COOL JAZZ FESTIVAL @ FUTURE NEW HOPE PARK
Contrary to its name, the fifth annual Cool Jazz Festival is not limited to cool jazz: bebop, Latin jazz, big band swing and modern fusions intermingle throughout the festival. Starting off with accomplished middle and high school bands from the area, the day unfolds with great local acts and ends with a performance by Grammy-nominated Durham singer Nnenna Freelon. Make sure to check out the John Brown Quintet at 5 p.m.—listening to them will make you feel "with it." Admission to the future New Hope Park in Hillsborough is free, though there's a $3 parking fee. Visit www.co.orange.nc.us/recparks/jazz_fest.asp for a complete lineup. 9 a.m.-7 p.m. —Andrew Ritchey
4.26 TWIN TIGERS @ NIGHTLIGHT
Big, chiming, louder-than-everything-else-in-the-band guitars still register when they're coaxed correctly (or left alone to overtake the room). Athens' Twin Tigers occasionally uses this theory, even if the band's other stuff veers toward milquetoast radio rock. $5/ 9:30 p.m.—Chris Toenes
04.27 DESTROYER @ CAT'S CRADLE
In 2004, Dan Bejar—a sometimes member of The New Pornographers and the co-architect of the superb supergroup Swan Lake—released Your Blues, a sweep of self-referential, associative images and ideas sung over MIDI-built symphonies. It was fantastic, and he's only built up since: This year's Trouble in Dreams is a rock record all the way, his lyrics about "craving new experiences," "common scars" and every night "being a stand-off with the fucking horizon" crashing upon big, charging drums, meaty basslines and epic guitars. The eight-minute "Shooting Rockets" is a heroic conquest of major-chord piano clang and acid-soaked electric lead, and "Rivers" is a jangle that comes clattering down into one of Bejar's signature "Da-da-da" choruses. Go ahead: It's finally OK to pump your fists to Dan Bejar. With Work Clothes and Andre Ethier. $12/ 9:30 p.m. —Grayson Currin
Correction (April 23, 2008): The print version incorrectly referred to Dan Bejar's 2002 album, This Night; the correct album is 2004's Your Blues.
4.28 MEAT BEAT MANIFESTO/ RAZ MESINAI'S BADAWI @ CAT'S CRADLE
Meat Beat Manifesto's Jack Dangers needs no intro to the enlightened techno or industrial fan, as he's been lumped in with both camps. Raz Mesinai crosses borderlines himself, having crafted a dub-breaks style that incorporates Middle Eastern melodies. His Badawi project has, not surprisingly, become aligned with the dubstep set, and he's recently hooked up with that genre's Kode 9. Both MBM and Badawi are proof positive that cross-pollination still works in electronic music. $15/ 9:30 p.m. —Chris Toenes
04.29 INTERNATIONAL NOISE CONFERENCE @ NIGHTLIGHT
Miami's diabolical troupe The Laundry Room Squelchers bring their International Noise Conference—which has been traveling across America since February—to town. The setup is simple and tempting: 17 acts (including Lee Counts of American Band, Bryce Clayton Eiman and Clang Quartet) selected by former Nightlight owner Ryan Martin and Clang Quartet itself get 15 minutes to bring their most distinctive sounds. No drones, laptops or mixing boards are allowed. Expect harsh bursts from pedals beaten, twisted and flailed. Free. —Grayson Currin
04.24 BRET MICHAELS @ HI-5
Like Spiderman, Bret Michaels is a cartoon superhero whose long blond locks and six-pack abs took him from Harrisburg to Hollywood, farther than his musical talent ever could. His pop-metal hair band, Poison, was Mötley Crüe for the developmentally challenged. The move apparently prepared him for a second career in reality TV, and while Michaels may seem like a catch compared to Flavor Flav or Scott Baio, he's not. Though he wants to be a "Menace to Society," he's closer to a wart you can't afford to lance. And, dude, give Axl back his bandana. $25/ 8 p.m. —Chris Parker
04.24 TAPES 'N TAPES/ WHITE DENIM @ LOCAL 506
In its salad days, Tapes 'N Tapes seemed a playful, slipshod, oft-inebriated indie rock band singing nothing songs about one's name not being Horatio. Hype hit upon the band's nice-enough full-length debut, The Loon, just before SXSW 2006, though, and the band hit the market full-blast, inking a multi-record deal with XL and instantly losing the élan that made The Loon charming at all. On this year's Dave Fridmann-produced Walk It Off, Tapes 'N Tapes doesn't sound like it's having fun. The Modest Mouse/ Pavement/ Pixies distillations now hit like soft punches delivered deliberately, sharp hooks dulled by the responsibility of making it and the attention this new platform brings. With White Denim. $12/ 10 p.m. —Grayson Currin
SATURDAY, APRIL 30
From: Moscow, Idaho
Claim to fame: A smile and charisma make believers.
The beaming Josh Ritter doesn't employ unfamiliar images or sonics to make his point. He just puts customary touchstones in provocative, thoughtful contexts, allowing his strident, charming, boy-next-door voice to do the rest. On last year's The Historical Conquests of..., for instance, Ritter interred a couple named Adam and Marie in an underground bunker holding a nuclear warhead. Adam fears the love will only last underground, so he nearly convinces himself to push the button, to preserve their love, or at least make it outlast the rest of the world. The track unfolds over strings, horns and a gentle finger-picked acoustic guitar. Elsewhere, Ritter lets his heart run wild with pop songs and his mind run free with references you'll spot. Again, nothing fancy, just fairly perfect. With Ingrid Michaelson at CAT'S CRADLE. $15-$17/ 9:15 p.m.
AMERICAN MUSIC CLUB
From: San Francisco
Claim to fame: Major labels killed 'em; Merge rebirthed 'em.
The winking Mark Eitzel doesn't employ unfamiliar edges or sonics to make his point. He just puts customary touchstones in provocative, thoughtful contexts, allowing his voice—an occasional sing-song monotone that rarely oversells source material—to do the rest. During "On My Way," for instance, he begins with simple images: Neptune with a weapon, feminine fingers holding a set of too-brief postcards, scenes of rot and squalor and fighting, all played over lilting nylon-string guitar. Tired but hopeful, he delivers the chorus before resigning his voice to reverb that washes into a funnel of feedback slow-burn, like Yo La Tengo wrestling Low. Elsewhere, Eitzel's AMC creeps through songs about the failure of love and glides through songs about being a tourist in New York. Split decision. At THE ARTSCENTER. $12-$14/ 8:15 p.m. —Grayson Currin
04.26 RAT JACKSON @ THE CAVE
There's no more Rat Jackson than there is a Pink Floyd, though brothers Curt and Will Arledge do take on the outsized fictional personas of Tad and Chester Jackson. As Tad warns in the roadhouse blues blister "Pussy Fantastic," "My firehose is set to make you whet your appetite."
"We're definitely not very rock 'n' roll in our personal lives," says bassist Rusty Sutton. "We wanted to be in a band that put across that kind of attitude."
Still, Rat Jackson's hard-rock swagger and rootsy ruckus suggest the Black Keys getting Back in Black. The four members of Rat Jackson are childhood friends who have played for years with different names and styles before taking their current incarnation two years ago. "We had this horrible name, The Zombie Attack, and kept getting booked for death metal shows," Sutton remembers. With The Dry Heathens and Blackhook. 10 p.m. —Chris Parker