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The guide to the week's concerts


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This week's guide contains:

YES, PLEASE: Freedy Johnston, Tad Dreis, Black Hollies, Violet Vector, The Huguenots, Joe Romeo & the Orange County Volunteers, Patrick Wolf, Ear Pwr, Adventure, Ex-Monkeys, Wood Birds, Wild Fictions, Embarrassing Fruits

VS.: Malebolgia vs. Abigail Williams

VS.: Casiotone for the Painfully Alone vs. Dex Romweber Duo

SONG OF THE WEEK: Sons of Bill's "Joey's Arm"




Freedy Johnston tackles everybody from Cole Porter to Matthew Sweet on his latest, all-covers release. But it'll always be his own words that resonate, going back to his '92 breakthrough, Can You Fly. There's "Well I sold the dirt to feed the band" (alluding to his sale of an inherited farm to finance Can You Fly's recording) and "We drew our hearts on the dusty coffin lids," a poignant short story in nine simple words. And Johnston remains the master of the sneaky but lasting melody, earworms dressed in camouflage. Tad Dreis, a local Freedy-ish singer-songwriter who's become quite the melody craftsman himself, opens. $10-$12/ 8 p.m. —Rick Cornell


There isn't enough paisley in the Southeast to outfit this three-headed dog of flower-power pop-rock adequately. Locals The Huguenots and Violet Vector & The Lovely Lovelies smile with semi-twee sing-alongs, giddy and bright, even as their hooks pop and jab. But boy howdy, do these Jersey boys, The Black Hollies, make the wallpaper crawl. Guitars crunch and fizzle and squirm all at once, while a haze of harmonic vocals crawl like thick fog—airy but potent enough to pack into a striking chorus. Occasionally, the band will shake off the double vision for a loose garage-rock rattle, but when they let the psychedelic take effect, it's a lava-lamp ooze that answers all of their Satanic majesties requests. $6/ 9 p.m. —Bryan Reed


He may not be a child of the '60s, but Joe Romeo's heart clearly resides there, channeling a buzzing garage-pop vibe that doesn't sound dated despite its four-decade vintage. Romeo's raspy vocals have a nice swing, and his backing band—those regal Orange County Volunteers—fields the vibrant hooky cuts like Ozzie Smith's glove. Whether evoking the Hollies as he counts his gray hairs and wonders how to behave ("Fight for You") or disembarking on a bluesy Animalistic groove in pursuit of irresistible, poisonous fruit ("Ancient Love"), Romeo is as casually familiar and comforting as an informal front porch microbrew klatch. Tonight, Romeo & the Vols play two sets. Donate kindly. Thursday, they play The Pinhook at 11 p.m., headlining over The Tomahawks. Cover is $5. —Chris Parker


Too often, the substance of the songs by London's Patrick Wolf gets swept aside for his public persona: For many, Wolf is a fey if Romanesque and pretentious 25-year-old who can't decide between ornate chamber arrangements and driving dance tunes, an ambiguously bisexual fashionista whose candor with the press sometimes shocks. Perhaps "Hard Times"—the anthem of Wolf's latest, The Bachelor—will change that: A lament about recession-and-war-time anxiety and the paradoxes of world leaders who cause it, "Hard Times" has a generous, empathetic folk music heart, wrapped in luxurious samples and a charging guitar line that takes Springsteen and The Arcade Fire for a swim across the Atlantic Ocean. With Living Things, Plastiscines and Jaguar Love. $10-$12/ 8 p.m. —Grayson Currin

Ear Pwr
  • Ear Pwr


Subtlety is not Ear Pwr's strongest suit: Clad in loud colors, armed with a glowing suitcase, brandishing a megaphone, the duo hypes crowds like a couple of ravers who decided to quit dancing at others' all-night parties and do their own thing. The pair recently hopped from Asheville to B-more's rich club scene, where they joined Carpark's esteemed roster. This is their second Triangle CD release party, and it includes Adventure, the 8-bit kick of one Benny Boeldt. As with like-minded soul Dan Deacon, expect freaky stasis but not too many actual dance grooves. Come early for Raleigh's Ex-Monkeys, who work a trip-hop/electro-rock thing quite solidly. 10 p.m. —Chris Toenes



Magnolia, the embracing debut from Austin's Wooden Birds, fits like a favorite pair of jeans. Comfortable, familiar and having faded into dependability, these songs of Andrew Kenney—the longtime leader of the New York-based American Analog Set—forego that old project's textural exploration for a welcome fit of orthodoxy and intimacy. Kenney's chic voice leads tunes that suggest a more cosmopolitan Iron & Wine, a brighter Low or a less bleary-eyed Hayden. Either way, the gentle clip of his croon and cleanly rendered guitar on "Hailey" and the diffusive, elegant harmonies of "Choke" suggest a college DJ scoring a sunrise or a sunset. Oklahoma's Other Lives make moody chamber music, strings lifting and lowering the lid on acoustic laments. Signed to Radiohead-releasing TBD Records and featuring ex-Kunek members, they're tonight's Okie openers. 10 p.m. —Grayson Currin


"We got our own secret society/ The password is, 'Fuck all y'all," sings Chris DeWitt, one half of Wild Fictions, a new brother/sister District of Columbia duo. Wild Fictions recall the educated charm and ramshackle warmth of Bishop Allen's early works, accompanying sharp melodies with minimal instrumental support ("synth and drums, but mostly just tambourine," jokes the band.) The DeWitt kids sing with the casual confidence of lifelong friends who built their own secret society. They'll open for Embarrassing Fruits, a Chapel Hill Trio whose lackadaisical aplomb drives chiseled, attractive indie rock licks and hooks on this year's excellent Community/Exploitation. It's too hot to be bothered. These bands are mighty cool for a June night spent underground. Donations/ 10 p.m. Also, Wild Fictions play The Pinhook Thursday, July 2. —Grayson Currin




From: Winston-Salem
Since: 2000
Claim to fame: Throwing this birthday party for turn-of-20th-century-anarcho femme Emma Goldman (no sarcasm)

Malebolgia's got more blasts than a World War II artillery field: The long-standing but slow-writing Winston-Salem band lines its classic death metal with torrents of blast beats from one end to the other, inserting only enough pauses to allow precision-driven drummer Kevin Hedgecock and robot-mouthed vocalist Joseph Darling to come up for air. But it's the guitars on the quartet's first full-length, this year's Requiem for the Inexorable, that sit the best. Sheets of discord slide past one another, fast flicks of riffs skating over the top of slick beds of feedback. Meanwhile, Raleigh's Worse Than Birth sees Malebolgia's Dante reference and raises them the gore. WTB's a wiry, voracious beast, churning black metal, grindcore, spazzcore and pure shit-talk into a somehow hooky death metal battery. With Arbitrary at MARVELL EVENT CENTER. $3-$4/ 8 p.m.




From: New York City
Since: 2005
Claim to fame: Like Pink Floyd had Pink, being led by a girl name Abby

This five-band bill has about as much potential as a bag of cheap convenience store fireworks: Named for a central figure in the Salem witch trials (and temporarily featuring a female keyboardist), Abigail Williams is the Paramore of United States black metal bands, meaning there's a slight chance they could take an old sound and make it new to the masses. Arch, epic, competent and very well-produced, the band's jams sound like Emperor on a big budget and with triumph in mind. Atlanta's Daath and New Orleans' Goatwhore might be two of the South's least important major metal acts, though: Daath's technically focused death metal is surprisingly staid, while the sweaty trash bombs of Goatwhore are disappointingly elementary and aged. Again, fireworks: Tonight could be great, or you could find yourself setting up a new Twitter by hour two. With Abysmal Dawn and S.W.W.A.A.T.S. at VOLUME 11 TAVERN. $14-$17/ 8 p.m. —Grayson Currin




From: San Francisco
Since: 1997
Claim to fame: A sly, melancholy tone scored by canned beats and his namesake plinky synth

Nobody beats auteur Owen Ashworth for truth in advertising: He delivers just what he says, offering paeans to the bereft in a flat, deadpan croon, much like a heavily sedated Conor Oberst. The matter-of-fact vocals particularly lend themselves to the coyly downbeat lyrical sketches, choosing not to telegraph the pain but let the aching desperation of the situation settle slowly. That detachment also allows for distance between the songwriter and his subjects, meaning that Ashworth—unlike most of his peers, who reach beneath your shirt as they try and grab your heart—makes for a fine conveyor. The lo-fi sonic approach affords greater focus on the lyrics, too, which is where most of his appeal lies. With Cryptacize and the excellent Veelee at LOCAL 506. $8/ 9 p.m.




From: Chapel Hill
Since: Early '80s
Claim to fame: Starting seminal rockabilly duo the Flat Duo Jets, who deeply influenced The White Stripes

Whatever Romweber lacks in lyrical heft he quickly compensates for with slashing, soul-shaking guitar that rattles and rolls with the feral intensity of Jerry Lee Lewis. He slices and dices styles at the crossroads of blues, country, rockabilly and punk, like Freddy Krueger shilling for Ronco's Veg-O-Matic. The manic fretwork might have you checking his wrist for a hospital admittance bracelet. But then sister Sara provides an autonomic combination foot-tap/head-bob, and your eyes glaze over to the mesmerizing groove. Romweber's recorded material only hints at the fury of his performances, which easily cut pasty keyboard sadsacks into sushi-size chunks. Oh, to spend another night alone... Part of Duke Performance's brilliant Music in the Gardens series at the SARAH P. DUKE GARDENS. $10 for general public and free for students/ 7 p.m.—Chris Parker


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