This week's guide contains:
YES, PLEASE: Sgt. Dunbar and the Hobo Banned; Medications, Edie Sedgwick, Proof; Pink Flag, Whatever Brains; Robert Millis; Talibam, Jerkagram; '70s Soul Jam; Mike Roy & Rob Watson; Amanda Palmer; Secondhand Freespace
EH, WHATEVER: Val Emmich
VS.: These Are Powers vs. Asobi Seksu
RE-INTRODUCING: Corrosion of Conformity-Blind
SONG OF THE WEEK: The Guggenheim Grotto's "Her Beautiful Ideas"
03.25 SGT. DUNBAR AND THE HOBO BANNED @ THE CAVE
Guitar, trombone, typewriter and singing saws align to create the high energy, driving sound of Sgt. Dunbar and the Hobo Banned. Composed of multi-instrumentalists, the ramshackle loping of the nine-piece solidifies into a pounding assault of chaos like a runaway horse carriage. While light and uplifting at times, the sound tends to offer an eerie darkness. The group is part of the Elephant 6-inspired, B3nson Recording Collective, based out of Albany, N.Y. Chapel Hill locals Robobilly! open with a world of robots and zombies. Using banjo and trumpet as glue, the band fuses a wickedly demented sense of humor with a garage punk aesthetic, singing, "I'm gonna love you 'til I'm shot in the head," on "Zombie Love." The small stage at The Cave will overflow with big sounds and personalities. 10 p.m. —Andrew Ritchey
03.26 MEDICATIONS, EDIE SEDGWICK, PROOF @ BERKELEY CAFE
The modulated angularity of Medications betrays its D.C.-punk roots, but the corners are sanded to fit within the trio's richer melodic constructs. The band is led by frontman Devin Ocampo and bassist Chad Molter, who build on the approach of their old Dischord band, Faraquet. Windy, yet graceful, they ebb and flow to an interior logic that ignores traditional verse-chorus-verse. They haven't released an album in almost four years. Edie Sedgwick is the drag alter-ego of Justin Moyer (El Guapo/ Supersystem), who pens funky oddball dance-punk paeans to pop culture icons ranging from "Haley Joel Osment" and "Lucy Liu" to "O.D.B." —Chris Parker
03.26 PINK FLAG, WHATEVER BRAINS @ TIR NA NOG
What comes off as a bit too precious on record reveals itself as a perfect balance of mirth, melody and misanthropy for Pink Flag on stage. The three-femme band is one of the Bull City's best new acts, juxtaposing chiming guitars with noisy shocks, taut rhythms with playful hooks and scene politics with personal motivation. What comes off as gnarled and aggressive on record for Whatever Brains reveals itself, well, as just that on stage: Whether covering Bowie or The Urinals or popping off one of its own anthemic digressions on irritation and forever-badass defiance, Whatever Brains howls its harmonies and turns its rhythms into picture wounds. It's a great preamble to your weekend. Free/ 10 p.m. —Grayson Currin
03.27 ROBERT MILLIS @ NIGHTLIGHT
As one half of the duo Climax Golden Twins, Millis explored rarely heard sounds from often remote cultures. He compiled Victrola Favorites: Artifacts from Bygone Days, a collection of rare international records. Millis' work lends itself to the visual: The colorful images portrayed in the music of, say, masked ceremonies or classical Turkish songs, plead for more illumination. Here, alongside a solo musical set, he screens My Friend Rain, a film collage from Thailand, Burma, Indonesia and Laos, recorded with Alan Bishop of the Sun City Girls. The line between caretaker and purveyor of exotica is fuzzy, but Millis does raise things to light not found on most "world music" compilations out there. $5/ 10 p.m.—Chris Toenes
03.28 TALIBAM, JERKAGRAM @ NIGHTLIGHT
With a trip down the East Coast, a wave of Brooklyn bands pushes against the tide of touring acts returning to the borough from South by Southwest: Two-piece Jerkagram cascades drums through unlikely patterns—a cymbal roll where it doesn't belong, a big rock fill where you'd expect nothing—beneath one guitar that favors long tones alternately reflecting Comets on Fire's acid-drenched maximalism and Glenn Branca's stately minimalism. Like free jazz kids rollicking through a field of poppies, Talibam works as if on a killswitch, flipping from blistering skronk to playful theatrics at moment's notice. Watch for drummer Kevin Shea, as he's a joy to witness. American Tourist and Cool Ethan open. $5/ 10 p.m. —Grayson Currin
03.28 '70s SOUL JAM @ DURHAM PERFORMING ARTS CENTER
In the soul music world, there are subgenres based on hybrid sounds (country-soul), geography (Southern soul), label (Motown) and even, well, depth (deep soul). As for the four '70s-survivor groups gathering at this jam—The Stylistics, Delfonics, Manhattans and The Main Ingredient—it's mostly a matter of feel (although those first two can definitely be filed under Philly soul), so we'll call them smooth soul. Hard to put into words, but you'll know it when you hear it, on such transistor-radio faves as "You Make Me Feel Brand New," "La-La (Means I Love You)," "Kiss and Say Goodbye" and "Everybody Plays the Fool." $35-$49.50/ 8 p.m. —Rick Cornell
03.28 MIKE ROY & ROB WATSON @ THE POUR HOUSE
As co-leaders of The Whistlestop, a rootsy gospel outfit whose music praises everybody from Roger Miller to Levon Helm, Mike Roy and Rob Watson share their spiritual sides without a flinch. On a new record aptly titled Lullabies & Family Songs—credited to the duo and not the Whistlestop and whose release is celebrated at this show—Watson and Roy open up even more and invite you right into their homes. It's a testament to the pair's warm delivery and anything-with-strings skills that you'll feel right comfortable. The Kennebec Duo and Kenny Roby & The Mercy Filter open. $6-$8/ 8 p.m. —Rick Cornell
03.29 AMANDA PALMER @ THE ARTSCENTER
The driving force behind gothic piano duo The Dresden Dolls, Palmer released her solo debut, Who Killed Amanda Palmer, in September. Ben Folds produced and played one song on it, with additional help from East Bay Ray and St. Vincent's Annie Clark, among others. While the arrangements are grander than her usual fare, the songs are cut from the same cloth. Indeed, the dozen tracks comprising the album were originally songs that didn't make the cut with the Dolls and result in an uneven effort. However, Palmer remains a wonderfully animated live performer, unsurprising given her background in theater. $18-$20/ 8 p.m. —Chris Parker
04.01 SECONDHAND FREESPACE @ LOCAL 506
Even when the old system works (find a label, tour incessantly, hopefully get famous, which is mostly what happened to Concord, N.C.'s The Avett Brothers), bands, labels and trends now depend on the Internet to market themselves and be heard. No news here, but tonight, several media-meets-music experts gather on the Local 506 stage to discuss a world of pitchforks, tweets and torrents: Lindsey Kronmiller of Merge, Mike Robinson of Annuals, Jed Carlson of Reverb Nation and David Rose of musician resource knowthemusicbiz.com share tonight's panel, moderated by Heather McDonald of about.com. Don't be an April fool by pretending your band doesn't need the 'net. The free panel starts at 7:30 p.m. —Grayson Currin
03.30 VAL EMMICH @ THE POUR HOUSE
It's a thin line between love and hate, but it's even thinner between pop perfection and dreck in Adult Contemporary. Emmich has been circling that border like a plane in a holding pattern for years, flashing occasional pop smarts amid overly sentimental and polished poesy. A dim shadow of Jason Mraz, Emmich enjoyed a major label cup of tea before returning to the indies where he released his latest, Little Daggers. Frothy enough to hide its lack of substance, it's perhaps not surprising Emmich has parlayed his clean-cut good looks into several TV roles, including turns this year on Ugly Betty and 30 Rock. With Sons of Williams. $8-$10/ 8 p.m. —Chris Parker
THURSDAY, MARCH 26
THESE ARE POWERS
From: Brooklyn, N.Y.
Claim to Fame: Noisy no-wave reminiscent of ex-Liars bassist Pat Noecker's old band
This art-punk trio produces a prickly, undulating racket whose lack of all but the barest melody is compensated for by electro-addled rhythms that burble and throb, threatening destruction like magma beneath the crust of Mount Vesuvius. It might be possible to dance to this, but you'd have to be a little spastic to match Powers' occasional monuments to sonic bombast. While the band samples chalkboard-scraping rumble, it's mostly content to trundle along, carting jibber-jabbering clatter at a steady, vaguely haunting pace. Frontwoman Anna Barie is the focal point live, shrieking, moaning and writhing on the floor to convey an eerie malevolence. At NIGHTLIGHT with USA Baby. $5/ 10 p.m.
From: New York
Claim to fame: Japanese singer Yuki Chikudate's girlish ethereality against big-canvas soundscapes
The remodeled Asobi Seksu unveiled a new approach on last month's release, Hush, mothballing the guitar-heavy shoegazer roar for something more genteel and elegant. Swaddled in icy synths (though guitar makes apperances) and grand, billowing arrangements, Yuki Chikudate's vocals soar, affecting a cloudlike airiness that's part Liz Fraser (Cocteau Twins) and part Emma Anderson (Lush). It's a dramatic move for an act that's committed eight years and two albums to a distorted MBV-like shimmering swoon. Not unlike its original British counterparts who also moved on to dreamy pop, Asobi Seksu pulls it off while slaying all comers, thanks mostly to Chikudate's gorgeous vocals. At LOCAL 506 with Tyvek. $8-$10/ 9:30 p.m. —Chris Parker
03.28 CORROSION OF CONFORMITY-BLIND @ VOLUME 11
"When it rains, it pours," says former Corrosion of Conformity frontman Karl Agell. Returning from extended musical hiatus, Agell and founding CoC drummer Reed Mullin have fired up all the engines. Mullin has united with former CoC bassist Mike Dean and guitarist Jason Browning, of H.R.'s solo group, for the new band Righteous Fool. Meanwhile, Agell has got Leadfoot off the blocks with a couple of old mates returning to rejoin him and guitarist Scott Little in the Southern-fried metal outfit.
But the most exciting news is Mullin, Little, Browning and Agell are resurrecting CoC's seminal 1991 album, Blind. Agell's only album with the band offers a signature blend of portentous Sabbath-y throb, grimy Southern boogie and scabrous guitar thrash that buries CoC's punk origins in a metal sarcophagus, offering a template for '90s alt-metal. When singer/ guitarist Pepper Keenan (currently touring in Down) booted Agell, Blind tracks "were basically excluded from the regular CoC set," says Mullin. "And a lot of people still want to hear them."
While Mullin and Agell harbor no illusions, they are hopeful their Blind-era CoC (sprinkled with a few well-chosen covers) takes off. "If it evolves into something bigger, we're happy to do it," Agell says. "But we're going to bite off one piece at a time." With H.O.W., Broadslab, The Ghost of Saturday Night. $12-$15/ 8 p.m. —Chris Parker