This week's guide contains:
YES, PLEASE: Malcolm Holcombe, The Moaners, Spinto Band, Generationals, Galactic, The Hood Internet, Mike Doughty, The Sundowners, Black Heart Procession
EH, WHATEVER: Cartel
VS.: Thursday vs. Electric Six
VS.: James Husband vs. Pinback
SONG OF THE WEEK: Benji Hughes' "Tight Tee Shirt"
10.23 MALCOLM HOLCOMBE @ THE ARTSCENTER
You can't look away from western North Carolina's Malcolm Holcombe when he takes a stage. He's got a chair that has no delusions of containing him, a stare that looks a mile past you even as it lasers through your core, and a guitar that can moan the most desperate country blues and hum the most joyous mountain love tune. Oh, and he's got songs. Man, does he have songs, with his latest batch assembled as For the Mission Baby. And like its predecessors, the new one trails the wood smoke of burning emotion. $15/ 8 p.m. —Rick Cornell
10.24 THE MOANERS @ NIGHTLIGHT
Having grown from the primitive blues-rock of their debut, Dark Snack, into the more dynamic, more diverse sounds of their most recent LP, 2007's Blackwing Yalobusha, The Moaners have shown the type of evolution—expanding their palette without losing their voice—that ought to whet a label's appetite for number three. A strong foundation with promise for future development, refinement and judging by the duo's career thus far, improvement? Should be a sure thing. For Yep Roc, though, it must not have been enough: The duo is slated to release its third record via boutique label Holidays For Quince. Looking forward ... With The Toddlers and Weatherkings. $5/ 10 p.m. —Bryan Reed
10.25 SPINTO BAND, GENERATIONALS @ LOCAL 506
Delaware sextet The Spinto Band is an overenthusiastic teen with self-esteem issues. While the bounding calliope of indie pop melodies is endearing, the pace is manic and a tad overeager to please. While they've an undeniable gift for a hook, the number of ideas and their feverish rush diminishes the songs' impact. It's a clear case of less-would-be-more, so let your ears fall fondly to Park the Van labelmates The Generationals. The Louisiana band produces groovy, sample-driven indie-soul-pop with jangly guitars and a dreamy synthetic shimmer that cries new wave. Think General Public renovated into a hipster loft. With Pepi Ginsberg. $8/ 9 p.m. —Chris Parker
10.25 GALACTIC @ CAT'S CRADLE
Adventurous New Orleans party outfit Galactic—a mix of brass band tones, hip-hop beats and bravado and rock bombast played by jazz dudes that can rip—parted ways with longtime lead singer Theryl deClouet in 2004. That decision has done nothing but allow Galactic all the space it needed to grow: Last year's From the Corner to the Block reached into electronic music textures, allowing drum journeyman Stanton Moore to explore rhythm outside of his basic kit and the rest of the band to build a sort of sanctuary for post-rock kids looking to celebrate. Unfairly relegated to the jam band ghetto, Galactic's imagination is bigger than the left or the right side of that divide. The Hood Internet plays Raleigh for free (twice, maybe: see www.indyweekblogs.com/scan for details) Saturday, but, if they're really like the Internet, can we count on fresh content daily? $18-$20/ 9 p.m. —Grayson Currin
10.27 MIKE DOUGHTY @ THE ARTSCENTER
Nearly a decade detached from his genre-blurring '90s band Soul Coughing, Mike Doughty now trades more in a simpler solo style than that of his former act's quirky near-hits. Doughty has no shortage of takes on every singer-songwriter's favorite topic—girls, of course—though elsewhere he riffs on American pop culture ("Busting Up a Starbucks," for instance) and relating tales of the addictions that nearly defeated him. With longtime touring pal Andrew Livingston on bass and cello along for this "Question Jar" tour, Doughty will respond to questions and requests plucked from the aptly named jar. New York's Porter Block opens with buoyant pop and lustrous harmonies. $16-$18/ 8:30 p.m. —Spencer Griffith
10.28 THE SUNDOWNERS @ BUSY BEE CAFE
The Drughorse Collective is a vintage-leaning Chapel Hill pop-rock cartel featuring current and past members of Roman Candle, Max Indian, The Old Ceremony, Mount Moriah, Beloved, The Tomahawks, Luego and the other two dozen bands in which kingpin Jeff Crawford has played a part. Encapsulating the Collective's signature sound, The Sundowners drench harmony-laced vocals and layers of guitar in reverb, treated with a touch of roots feel thanks to steel guitar embellishments and a luxurious bed of organ. Expect a set culled from the catalogs of the aforementioned bands, along with some choice covers. Free/ 9 p.m. —Spencer Griffith
10.28 BLACK HEART PROCESSION @ CAT'S CRADLE
Maybe the most appropriately named band in music, San Diego's Black Heart Procession exudes melancholy with the regularity with which most people exhale. "When I remember these times, I try not to cry," croaks Pall Jenkins over a distant piano on "Drugs," the wrecking ball of a centerpiece from this year's fantastic Six. But that darkness is so lovely, decorated by a band that moves with the care of a classical chamber ensemble, even when they're playing the bone-dry rock 'n' roll that counters slow, gilded pieces like "Drugs." San Jose's ragged The Mumlers open. $12/ 9:15 p.m. —Grayson Currin
10.22 CARTEL @ LINCOLN THEATRE
Combined, the four bands on this bill account for nearly 70 million MySpace plays, thousands of T-shirts draped across high school girls and Hot Topic mannequins nationwide, hundreds of trite lyrics and dozens of ridiculous promo photos. Bad artistic decisions are nothing new for these guys, though: Headliners Cartel took part in the ill-advised Dr. Pepper-sponsored Band in a Bubble MTV reality series two years ago, rushing to complete its sophomore album in less than three weeks. Be that as it may, frontman Will Pugh's wavering vocals match the ultra-high stylings of Fall Out Boy's Patrick Stump, and the predictable arrangements empty an already spare cupboard of programmed beats into a mess of triple-guitar redundancy. Three years wouldn't have resulted in something that much better. With This Providence, The Summer Set and The Bigger Lights. $15/ 8 p.m. —Spencer Griffith
SATURDAY, OCT. 24
From: New Brunswick, N.J.
Claim to fame: First Victory Records band to score metal-core success, then fail on a major
It's hard to age gracefully, because getting old just isn't that attractive. Leaving behind music smelted in adolescent angst for ambitious epics that attempt more than revving the engine doesn't help. While Thrice made an effective transition from Sturm und Drang theatrics to a textured, tempered attack, Thursday's latest, Common Existence, isn't as striking without the dark ink, leaving little but colorless impressions. While Dave Fridmann (Mercury Rev, The Flaming Lips) is a master of dreamy, heavily layered neo-psych productions, there just isn't much that's distinctive about next-generation Thursday. It's not difficult to imagine them spending middle age on the oldies circuit reprising past glories. With Fall of Troy, The Dear Hunter, Midnight Masses. At LINCOLN THEATRE. $17-$20/ 7:30 p.m.
From: Detroit, Mich.
Claim to fame: "Gay Bar" and "Danger! High Voltage" welcomed disco back in the guise of electroclash
Wrinkles wear a lot better when the visage's not so self-serious, which is why Thursday could learn something from Electric Six. While casually disregarded as a one-hit wonder for "Gay Bar," these guys have a sense of humor that makes them a much more enjoyable hang. They're not too proud to record "Gay Bar Part Two," and there's an irrepressible irreverence on tracks like "Formula 409" and "Lenny Kravitz" (which professes confusion as to "why anyone really likes" the namesake star) that's difficult to resist. Their live performances possess a similar carefree enthusiasm. We dare you to have as much fun as singer Dick Valentine. With The Gay Blades and Millions of Brazilians. At CAT'S CRADLE. $12-$14/ 9 p.m. —Chris Parker
TUESDAY, OCT. 27
From: Athens, Ga./ Stockholm, Sweden
Claim to fame: Of Montreal member's poppy solo project finally takes center stage
James Husband may be more familiar as James Huggins, multi-instrumentalist for Of Montreal, founding member of Great Lakes and regular contributor to Elephant 6 acts Elf Power and The Essex Green. But he's compiled his own semirespectable catalog of '60s-flavored psychedelic pop, too. Less ornate and more concise than his bigger bands' material, Husband's first official release—two previous homemade full-lengths were available at Of Montreal shows—is due (today actually) on Polyvinyl. Its 12 songs were recorded between 2003 and 2008, but they are united in the hefty debt owed to psych-pop progenitors ranging from the Beatles and Gary Numan to Robert Pollard. At LOCAL 506. With Sugar & Gold and The Ex-Monkeys. $8/ 9 p.m.
From: San Diego
Claim to fame: Dark fare dressed up in intricate textures and catchy melodies
Zach Smith and Rob Crow craft hypnotic indie pop with a heart of pure, Old Testament-inspired blackness. (What is it with sunny San Diego breeding such Donnie Darkos?) When they're on, most notably with 2004's Summer in Abaddon, the shifting tempos, dense layers of keyboards and guitar lines, visceral bass and propulsive beats—some man-made, some computer-generated—crank tension until the songs burst into climactic choruses chockablock with crisscrossed harmonies. The band's fourth full-length, 2007's Autumn of the Seraphs, suggested the formula has limits, however, so Pinback's upcoming 2010 release feels like a make-or-break proposition. If they're road-testing new stuff, consider us interested. At CAT'S CRADLE. $14-$16/ 9:15 p.m. —John Schacht