This week's guide contains:
YES, PLEASE: The Kingsbury Manx, The Dry Heathens, The Loners, The Homewreckers, Carlitta Durand & Fat Snacks, Annuals, Jessica Lea Mayfield, What Laura Says, Fan-Tan, Transportation, The Travesties
VS.: Max Indian, Modern Skirts vs. Hammer No More the Fingers, Pattern Is Movement
INTRODUCING: Boat Burning
SONG OF THE WEEK: Pattern is Movement's "Right Away" and Hammer No More the Fingers' "Shutterbug"
01.30 THE KINGSBURY MANX @ THE PINHOOK
The 14 tracks on Fifth, the sequentially named new record from Chapel Hill's The Kingsbury Manx, sit exquisitely at the edges of cold and warm, bleak and beautiful, peaceful and tortured. Due in April on new imprint Odessa Records, Fifth is of a singular piece, a focused though sprawling collection of tunes that tease with jangle on morphine drip, or dread on weekend vacation. You'll hear few records more generous and graceful this year, guaranteed. Similarly, Schooner has a batch of new songs, and you should hear them tonight. Several DJs spin the show into the late night. 9:30 p.m. —Grayson Currin
01.31 THE DRY HEATHENS, THE LONERS, THE HOMEWRECKERS @ THE PINHOOK
You'd be hard-pressed to find a better showcase of Triangle rock muscle. Opener The Homewreckers' jagged garage-punk rages like a four-alarm fire catalyzed by the Santa Ana winds of singer/ guitarist Jill Homewreckers' dry salty sneer. The Loners' chunky rockabilly-blues-punk rumble sounds old school—roof-caving grooves and guitarist Eddie Taylor kicking up dust in the detritus with a steely throb and a slithering rock howl that demand you take a seat. The Dry Heathens crowns the bill, offering frontman Darren Sink's manic vocal wail amid distortion-drenched slabs of guitar and rubbery bass strong enough to carry the melody by itself. 10 p.m. —Chris Parker
01.31 CARLITTA DURAND & FAT SNACKS @ JACK SPRAT
Coming off of the heels of Yahzarah's busy 2008 (The Prelude EP, The Foreign Exchange's second LP), the gentler side of the Triangle's urban music scene is starting off briskly in 2009: The enigmatic Keisha Shontelle overcame her agoraphobia and performed last week in Durham, and now frequent Little Brother collaborator Carlitta Durand will share her whispering falsetto with the faithful in Chapel Hill. It's a little too early to start throwing the term "R&B renaissance" around, but if these ladies keep up the pace, we might get lucky and end up with a catfight on our hands. Durand is joined by backing band Fat Snacks. Also, Edgar Allen Floe. $7-$9/ 10 p.m. —Eric Tullis
- Jessica Lea Mayfield
01.31 ANNUALS, JESSICA LEA MAYFIELD, WHAT LAURA SAYS @ CAT'S CRADLE
The ambitious widescreen pop of Raleigh sextet Annuals chases the expansive vistas explored by The Flaming Lips, coming across like Rushmore's Max Fischer covering Sufjan Stevens: somewhat precocious but well-staged. That said, fans of lush, overflowing orchestral-tinged pop with a splash of adventurous quirk will find plenty here. What Laura Says conjures a dreamy pace, rich in harmonies and gently lilting pop aesthetics with a sultry sway that shimmers like road haze. Both will have a tough go upstaging Jessica Lea Mayfield, whose evocative country-blues drawl and unvarnished lyrical paeans shake your soul like cardiac arrest. Read an interview with Mayfield and download her song "For Today." $10-$12/ 8:30 p.m. —Chris Parker
01.31 FAN-TAN, TRANSPORTATION, THE TRAVESTIES @ LOCAL 506
A reunion of sorts: Mike Walters, who served as the Triangle's keyboard circuit-bending wizard for years, departed for New York and now plays with three other Triangle ex-pats in Fan-Tan, a dark, post-punk band with shimmering guitars and sharp beats. Imagine The Editors at dusk. The Travesties include many of Walters' old bandmates in Jett Rink, that glorious rave-up led by Viva Cohen until 2007. Cohen takes the frontspot here. Transportation rocks you like a boat or a blowtorch or a Badfinger, depending on the moment. $6/ 10 p.m. —Grayson Currin
THURSDAY, JAN. 29
- Modern Skirts
MAX INDIAN, MODERN SKIRTS
From: Carrboro, Athens
Since: 2007, 2004
Claim to fame: Local songwriting pals and out-of-towners that pal around with R.E.M.
Throwback guitar pop double-header with a touch of contemporary styling: The hook-laden, sun-soaked sing-alongs of Max Indian lend themselves to comparisons with the cheerier works of The Beatles and Big Star, though the lyrics dig a bit deeper than their rather innocuous arrangements suggest. With members of Roman Candle, The Old Ceremony and SpencerAcuff, the faces of Max Indian are as familiar in Orange County music circles as those of Modern Skirts in Athens. Winning over crowds in another of the South's prominent local scenes with anthems steeped in classic power pop but dusted with fresh flavors, Modern Skirts has also scored opening slots for R.E.M., whose Mike Mills, along with Cracker's David Lowery, helped produce the recently released All Of Us In Our Night. At LOCAL 506. $7/ 10 p.m.
- Hammer No More The Fingers
HAMMER NO MORE THE FINGERS, PATTERN IS MOVEMENT
From: Durham, Philadelphia
Since: 2006, 2001
Claim to fame: Albums produced by J. Robbins, praised by Pitchfork
Modern indie rock affair with a hint of retro influence: On the heels of its self-titled debut EP, Hammer No More The Fingers earned well-deserved blog buzz for unpretentiously rocking out in a way that's simple but not dumbed down, with lyrics that are quirky without being nonsensical. Tearing apart jittery pogo bounce with shards of guitar, the trio's long-awaited, J.Robbins-helmed LP drops in April. Pattern Is Movement, which scaled back to a keys-and-drums two-piece in 2008, extends its chamber pop through synthesizer sprees and skittering percussion underneath Andrew Thiboldeaux's vocal yearn. Mod- and soul-lovin' Prabir and the Substitutes opens with infectious energy. At TIR NA NOG. Two excellent local-meets-touring-band bills tonight. Free/ 10 p.m. —Spencer Griffith
01.31 BOAT BURNING @ NIGHTLIGHT
With its textural, intertwining improvisations for cello and Fender guitars, Boat Burning currently creates some of the Triangle's most interesting experimental sounds. You may be surprised, then, to learn that the band emerged from Amps Do Furnish a Room, a collective that originally formed to cover Television's landmark debut, Marquee Moon, in its entirety. Tackling the spiraling guitar machinations of Marquee Moon, of course, is a bit different than pursuing the structure of a Christopher Cross tune, and those challenges translate to Boat Burning: Guitars flicker by one another, melodies emerging from sheets of noise and tessellating amid drums that drive or shuffle. Imagine Ash Ra Tempel palling around with Rhys Chatham's original Guitar Trio accomplices, and you get the idea. Just don't get used to the sound. Every time the band gets stable, they work to damage what they've done.
"The thing to avoid is anyone getting into their comfort zone," says Andy Fekete. "So we have a dictate in the band: If anyone feels like we're doing the same thing, tear it up. Explode it." Boat Burning plays with Odist, Douglas Ferguson and Clang Quartet. 10 p.m. —Grayson Currin