This week's guide contains:
YES, PLEASE: Kasey Chambers & Shane Nicholson, Amy Ray, Starlight Mints, JP Inc., The Beatings, In the Year of the Pig, Poison the Well
VS.: Tin Star, Bringerer vs. Future Islands
VS.: The Low Anthem vs. How I Became the Bomb
INTRODUCING: The Revolutionary Sweethearts
08.13 KASEY CHAMBERS & SHANE NICHOLSON @ CAT'S CRADLE
On 2008's Rattlin Bones, a collaboration between Australian thrush Kasey Chambers and her husband, Shane Nicholson, released domestically by Sugar Hill, the pair surfaced a number of different sounds while working within a trad-leaning setting. That Chambers is comfortable with bluegrass, folk and bare-bones country is no surprise; those were all key components of her outback musical upbringing, and they've echoed to varying degrees across her Aus-country solo records. But still, the ease in which Chambers and the multi-instrumental Nicholson (banjo, resonator guitar and mandolin, for starters) embodied those styles, and others, impressed anew. And everything worked, from honey-dipped honky-tonk and classically picked bluegrass to primal stomps and a heavenly slice of banjo-nudged gospel titled "Woe Is Mine," which could have been penned yesterday or 75 years ago. $20-$23/ 8:30 p.m. —Rick Cornell
08.15 AMY RAY @ CAT'S CRADLE
Just three weeks after Amy Ray finishes this short solo jaunt up the East Coast, she'll return to the road with the Indigo Girls, her long-standing, best-selling, folk-leaning duo with Emily Saliers. Ray, 45, remains one of the hardest working songwriters in the country, constantly traveling toward her audiences while testing the limits of what she's known and done. To wit, last years' Didn't It Feel Kinder explored a bristling, swampy mix of rock, soul and funk, abetted by ex-Butchies Melissa York and Kaia Wilson and heavier-than-usual producer Greg Griffith. It's a brash, unapologetic batch of songs that don't forsake the hooks or honesty of her more famous band. Bellafea and Humble Tripe open. $12-$15/ 9 p.m. —Grayson Currin
08.16 STARLIGHT MINTS, JP INC. @ CAT'S CRADLE
Starlight Mints represent a hodgepodge of sounds, collected and arrayed all over each other like a thrift store bargain bin. Quirky enough to recall David Lowery and with enough pop sensibility in its crazy quilt to draw frequent Flaming Lips comparisons, the Mints' arrangements aren't so much expansive as heavily gilded. All manner of strings, horns and keyboards join bass-drums-guitar to layer bouncy, off-kilter, hook-rife songs bonded by a slightly askew lyrical worldview. That fits opener JP Hanson nicely. Hanson released several albums as Pleaseeasaur before rechristening himself JP Inc. for Album of Distinction, featuring 36 themes songs for yet-to-be-created shows. Also, Parachute. $10/ 8:30 p.m. —Chris Parker
08.16 THE BEATINGS, IN THE YEAR OF THE PIG @ NIGHTLIGHT
"Stockholm Syndrome Relapse," by the co-ed Boston quintet The Beatings, testifies to the sexual tension possible in primal rock 'n' roll: Above a pained, Pixies-like throb and guitars ripped straight from an Archers of Loaf tape reel, a man and a woman howl a perfect hook about abandonment and addiction. Malevolent but magnetic, it's a delightful gutpunch. Chapel Hill quintet In The Year of the Pig funnel two Teutonic drummers, two shrapnel-string guitarists and one broken bass into a sweaty display of stamina and stress. Make is the new heavy psych outfit from Scott Endres, formerly of *SONS. $5/ 9:30 p.m. The Beatings also play The Pour House in Raleigh on Tuesday, Aug. 18, with District Drive. Free/ 9 p.m. —Grayson Currin
08.18 POISON THE WELL @ THE BREWERY
Here's hoping more bands emerge from this decade's metalcore mire to make something as stylistically and structurally inventive as The Tropic Rot, the latest from Poison the Well, a turnover-prone quintet from South Florida. PTW moved from an independent to a major and, for the last two albums, back to a small subsidiary of Warner Music Group. Dynamic and earnest but largely free of bathetic melodrama, The Tropic Rot shifts between lucid pop moments (the first half of "Are You Anywhere") and scorching post-rock grandeur (that song's second half). Mostly, though, it lands just beyond the middle with well paced, smartly constructed epics, like the harmony-helped "Antarctica Inside Me." All told, it's a record that will make you recall some conceptions. If only there were more like it... With Vanna, Embracing Goodbye, Titan and The Lineage. $10-$12/ 7 p.m. —Grayson Currin
THURSDAY, AUGUST 13
THE LOW ANTHEM
From: Providence, R.I.
Claim to fame: Bunkering in the same stylistic cabin as Bon Iver and titillating bloggers before signing to major-label affiliate Nonesuch
I'm considering taking up Klingon so there might be something new to say about the legions of country/ folk/ roots acts overrunning indie rock like lobbyists on Capitol Hill. This trio strikes a loping antediluvian stance lit by candles, pulled slowly by ponies, and haunted by the ghosts of The Band and Woody Guthrie. The ragged, laggard acoustic strum is accompanied at turns by harmonica, gospel-inspired harmonies, and haggard, aching organ peals, while frontman Ben Knox Miller whisper-croons about his stocks of weapons and provisions as he awaits a girl's return—or the apocalypse. All in all, it's well executed but telegraphed with a familiarity that inspires my mostly undeserved contempt. At LOCAL 506. $8-$10/ 8:45 p.m.
HOW I BECAME THE BOMB
From: Murfreesboro, Tenn.
Claim to fame: Their late arrival to VH1 Classic's '80s party, but getting down like they just don't care
Just because it's all been done before is no excuse for failing to try. In such a felonious atmosphere, How I Became the Bomb's new wave nostalgia gets off with only a citation, even in spite of the forged British accents. Bristling keyboard-driven pulses buoy keening hooks that Echo the Bunnymen and find a Cure. That promise is generally fulfilled thanks to energetic arrangements that jump from the speakers. Even if cloyingly familiar at times, the band's personality is entertaining enough to compensate. Where The Low Anthem sounds straitjacketed by their unyieldingly downbeat influences, HIBTB's vibrance shakes the cobwebs from those old records. With The Dry Heathens and Prabir & the Substitutes. At SLIM'S. $5/ 9 p.m. —Chris Parker
FRIDAY, AUGUST 14
- Tin Star
TIN STAR, BRINGERER
Since: 2008, 2002
Claim to fame: Variations on laid-back indie pop
Tin Star's delicately crafted fare floats Jamie Miyares' gossamer vocals over careful interplay between her twinkling keys and the glistening guitarwork of partner Louis Botta, who played in William Christ Superstar with drummer Bart Moyers. Moyers also sits behind the kit for Bringerer, led by Ron Liberti, former frontman of recently reunited early Merge act Pipe (see page 32). Here, Liberti tones down the early '90s aggression in favor of short, relaxed pop blasts. Simeon rounds out the triple bill, shifting from steadily driving rock anthems to lazily drifting pop, contagious bits sprinkled throughout. At THE CAVE. Donations/ 10 p.m.
From: Baltimore via Greenville
Claim to fame: Synthpop outfit that pirates with Wham City
If Future Island's throbbing, persistent beats and quirky synthesizer bleats don't insist on packing the dance floor, Sam Herring's commanding stage presence should. Once the husky frontman (who's a tad reminiscent of Jack Black, really) gets fired up, his antics are hilarious, his energy contagious. Lonnie Walker freely jumps between and blends its Americana, punk and indie rock sensibilities—often in the same song—while Brian Corum howls his seemingly unedited thoughts that—upon closer examination—pack poetic potency. New York duo Javelin shifts between keen electropop and big, danceable grooves that don't really go anywhere but do shift streams frequently enough to keep things interesting. At BERKELEY CAFE. $6/ 10 p.m. —Spencer Griffith
08.16 THE REVOLUTIONARY SWEETHEARTS @ SLIM'S
Though its three members have played together in various configurations for years, Raleigh's Revolutionary Sweethearts—drummer Rob Lackey, and guitarists/ singers/ songwriters Richard Flickinger and Brandy Tanner—fell into place only a year ago. In the past 12 months, the Sweethearts have mined the middle ground between Lackey's and Flickinger's backgrounds on the heavier side of indie rock and Tanner's predilection for pop songcraft.
"Rich plays baritone guitar, and part of that is because he's a big Evens fan," says Lackey, referring to the Washington, D.C., duo of Minor Threat/ Fugazi figurehead Ian MacKaye. After seeing an early Evens gig, Flickinger was so inspired by MacKaye's warm, wide tone with a baritone guitar that he decided to begin writing with one, too. Though the instrument's plucky grace fills the Sweethearts' sound in much the way it does for The Evens, calling the Raleigh trio a rehash would be reductive.
"We do have some poppy side coming from Brandy," reminds Lackey, who also drums in The Rosebuds. Tanner approaches hooks casually, neither reaching too far for them nor avoiding them at any expense. The result isn't far from the rootsy indie-pop of Camper Van Beethoven, whose Our Beloved Revolutionary Sweetheart LP provided the trio's handle.
As The Revolutionary Sweethearts take the Slim's stage a year wiser, coincidentally, so does Flickinger. It's his birthday party, and he requests your presence. $5/ 9 p.m. —Bryan Reed